The Drowning TreeThe Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A crazy ex-husband, a sister’s betrayal, a distant friendship, a mystery lost in a glass from the past…this is a story of corrupt family histories, murder, and madness. I loved it!

“It is the reflection of the sun, striking her for the first time in her life She might be bound for death, but in this moment—the moment in which she chooses life over shadows—she is more alive than she has ever been.”

When Juno McKay finds her friend Christine dead, she seeks to unravel her best friend’s final months. Her quest for answers will lead her back into a world she left behind at the birth of her daughter and into the past of a power family.

“You have to stick with what you see and follow where your eye leads you.”

Christine sought the answers for questions that no one really wanted asked: and they all center of Penrose College’s founding family and a stained glass window whose origin is lost in time. As Juno retraces her old friend’s steps, she discovers that old secrets have a way of endangering the present; and that Christine was up to more than just researching a stained glass window of dubious origin…she was also deeply meddling in Juno’s own past.

“Why does Dante have to go down into hell to find his way out again—just because he lost his way in the middle of his life? Do you think that means that when you’re at your lowest you have to go lower? To face your demons?”

Quickly this tale of history and literature becomes a race against the clock for Juno. She must untangle Christine’s, Juno’s own, and the Penrose family’s past in order to save her own life.

ATMOSPHERE. If I had to pick one word to describe this book, it would be “atmosphere.” Carol Goodman does not just tell a story, she shows you every poignant detail and gives you chills from her eerie imaginings. A woman is not just found dead. Instead, she is found under the lily pads in underwater statue grave yard.

“…and a plume of yellow hair rising like smoke…no, not rising…I’m still reading the scene below the water as if it were a reflection of something above the water. In reverse. The woman’s arms, hanging down toward the bottom of the creek, seemed to be raised above her head as if she were fending off an attack. One white hand moves languidly in the current as if waving at the passing crow of fish.”

An asylum is not just a building for housing madness.

“‘It looks like a castle in a fairy tale,’ Nathan Says. ‘Yeah,’ I say pulling back onto the road, ‘the evil witch’s castle.’”

One does not just drive onto college property, either.

“When I pass under the gates—beneath the wrought-iron motto ‘Spectemur Agendo’ (‘Let us be judged by our actions’)—the transformation from decaying factory town to hallowed groves of academia is complete.”

Mrs. Goodman did an excellent job of artfully combining the may moving pieces of mystery, history, and literature to create this vivid story of murder and madness. My only complaint is that sometimes the descriptions were a little too artful and the imagery caused the story to drag on longer than the plot necessitated. However this is definitely a book worth the read for anyone who loves a side of murder with their academia!