Tripping Arcadia

by Kit Mayquist

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lena is a med school drop out who has come home to help support her family during their financial crisis. After landing a job as assistant to a wealthy family’s private doctor, Lena soon realizes she’s now a part of a world full of secrets and is a society separate from anything else she’s experiences before.

When I picked up this book I hadn’t heard of it before. This was a suggestion by a bookseller who hadn’t read it, but told me she had heard good things. So I figured what the hell. This decision did not disappoint.

This was such a wild ride! It wasn’t an epic or grand adventure, but it was full of so much drama and intrigue. They author did a really good job leaving you with a constant sense of foreboding, but in a way you couldn’t quite name. The plot follows main protagonist Lena as she navigates this new world of wealth and debauchery the likes of which she couldn’t fathom. And this just makes her angry.

What I truly loved about this book is that it blurs the line of “hero” and “villain.” Do the ends justify the means? Lena was such an interesting character to follow because it’s so difficult to fully side with her actions and choices. Every character in this book had things they were hiding or motivations that weren’t always apparent in the moment. Morally ambiguous characters are always so much fun.

Lena’s relationship with the other characters followed the same pattern of ambiguity as well. It is incredibly difficult to see what direction each was going in as well as how healthy or toxic they may be. Here is actually where my only real issue with the narrative is though. There is such an emphasis on her family early in the book, but they sort of fade in to the background a bit throughout the story. They still drive a good deal of her motivation, but their presence in Lena’s life feels pretty minimal early on. To be fair though, they are still around from time to time and the author does make it known that Lena’s attention is definitely elsewhere.

While this book is in no way a ‘dark academia’ story at all, I do feel like fans of that sub-genre would really enjoy this book. The sinister undertones to almost everyone’s motivations give a very similar feeling while reading this book. Highly recommend.

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All Bookshop links support my local indie bookstore. I am not an affiliate and get no payment from sales.

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