Bellweather Rhapsody

Bellweather Rhapsody

5.0 4
by Kate Racculia
     
 

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"For its darkness and its glee, I loved this novel." —Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore A high school music festival goes awry when a young prodigy disappears from a hotel room that was the site of a famous murder/suicide fifteen years earlier, in a whip-smart novel sparkling with the dark and giddy pop culture

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Overview

"For its darkness and its glee, I loved this novel." —Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore A high school music festival goes awry when a young prodigy disappears from a hotel room that was the site of a famous murder/suicide fifteen years earlier, in a whip-smart novel sparkling with the dark and giddy pop culture pleasures of The Shining, Agatha Christie, and Glee

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 02/24/2014
This rich brew of a novel from Racculia (This Must Be the Place) mixes together murder, music, and eccentric humor. In 1982, in Clinton’s Kill, N.Y., a new bride murdered her husband, then killed herself, shortly after checking into Room 712 of the Bellweather Hotel. In 1997, high school drama queen Alice Hatmaker checks into the same room to perform at the statewide music festival, along with her talented twin brother, Rabbit. Alice’s roommate is virtuoso flautist Jill Faccelli, whose overbearing mother, Viola Fabian, runs the festival. As a snow storm looms, Alice finds Jill hanged in one of the rooms. But when she returns with help, the body is missing, replaced by a note reading, “NOW SHE IS MINE.” Only Minnie Graves, who witnessed the original murder-suicide when she was 10 and has returned to the hotel as a young woman to confront her demons, believes Alice’s story. Together, she and Alice try to find out what happened to Jill. Racculia thus sets the stage for a novel of dueling wills, marked by textured characterization and an ebullient storytelling style. Agent: Bonnie Nadell, Hill Nadell Literary Agency. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-03-16
Racculia (This Must Be the Place, 2010) delivers an experience worth rhapsodizing about as a group of teenagers and their adult chaperones descend upon a hotel in the Catskills for a statewide music festival. The once-elegant Bellweather Hotel has seen better days, but the staff does its best to keep up appearances as they roll out the somewhat threadbare red carpet for the best high school musicians in New York State. It's 1997, and 15 years ago, a grisly murder-suicide occurred in Room 712—the room now assigned to Jill, a child prodigy whose mother is the festival's acting director, and Alice, a seemingly arrogant choral student. Alice's bassoonist twin, Rabbit, is also among the attendees, and he's hopeful the next few days will yield opportunities for a bit of adventure and some honest disclosure. Alice has always been the dominant sibling, but their relationship undergoes a not-so-subtle change within hours of their arrival. Introverted Rabbit inadvertently becomes a hero among his peers when he stands up to their derisive conductor, a Scotsman who's a few fingers short of a full hand and whose interest in the twins' angry, gun-toting chaperone strengthens as the two discover similarities. Alice is bewildered by Rabbit's quick rise to popularity, and her feelings of abandonment increase when she finds Jill's lifeless body hanging from an orange extension cord. Although authorities investigate, they can't find a corpse, and Jill's mother claims she's merely hiding somewhere in the hotel. Her disappearance provides fodder for the teenage rumor mill, but life goes on: Rehearsals continue while angst-ridden teens and adults, all with hidden secrets, are swept up in a crescendo of memories and emotions. Racculia's droll wit and keen understanding of human nature propel a story that's rich in distinctive characters and wholly engaging. A gem.
From the Publisher
“Delightfully odd . . . Racculia, clearly a fan of Agatha Christie, stuffs the Bellweather with a fine cast of misfits and dreamers and foes . . . The pleasures of this great yarn are not just its full heart but its clever head. A” — Entertainment Weekly

“Warm, entertaining and thoughtful, and a glorious celebration of music . . . Fans of Racculia’s first book, This Must Be the Place, will recognize her quirky style and her great affection for her oddball characters.” — Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“A rollicking story . . . Racculia’s exuberant voice inspires laugh-out loud moments while also bringing to life broken people who find solace in each other’s heartaches . . . [Bellweather Rhapsody] hits all of the right notes for a darkly awesome summer read.” — Wisconsin State Journal

“An entertaining and enthralling yarn . . . This is the stuff that dreams and nightmares are made of: what one is willing to go through—or not go through—when you’re infused with a dazzling talent.” — PopMatters

Bellweather Rhapsody is funny and exuberant, twisty and captivating. Racculia tells the truth here, about art and life and the many trajectories that talent can take. She’s also written the most resonant descriptions of music—how it really works in the head and the heart—that I’ve ever read. For its darkness and its glee, I loved this novel.” Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra s 24-Hour Bookstore

“Witty and smartly moving, Kate Racculia’s Bellweather Rhapsody offers a heart-thumping mystery of music and murder, wherein the past repeats itself, and in doing so becomes malleable again: just as an orchestral score can be rearranged to new effect, so an unsolved crime sometimes returns to shock and surprise anew—and in both cases the outcomes are as unpredictable as they are suspenseful.” — Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods

"[A] deft mix of horror, high school drama, locked-door mystery (or, rather, locked-hotel mystery), twin-seeking-twin closeness, adult (and teen!) romance, and some truly adult violence and guilt. At its heart, Bellweather Rhapsody as about talent: what it means to have it, what it means to lose it (if that’s possible), how on earth you’re supposed to wield a magic you can barely understand before you’re even old enough to drive, and what kind of adult you might turn out to be if you fail." —Book Riot

“This rich brew of a novel from Racculia (This Must Be the Place) mixes together murder, music, and eccentric humor. In 1982, in Clinton’s Kill, New York, a new bride murdered her husband, then killed herself, shortly after checking into Room 712 of the Bellweather Hotel. In 1997, high school drama queen Alice Hatmaker checks into the same room to perform at the Statewide music festival, along with her talented twin brother, Rabbit. Alice’s roommate is virtuoso flautist Jill Faccelli, whose overbearing mother, Viola Fabian, runs the festival. As a snow storm looms, Alice finds Jill hanged in one of the rooms. But when she returns with help, the body is missing, replaced by a note reading, ‘NOW SHE IS MINE.’ Only Minnie Graves, who witnessed the original murder-suicide when she was ten and has returned to the hotel as a young woman to confront her demons, believes Alice’s story. Together, she and Alice try to find out what happened to Jill. Racculia thus sets the stage for a novel of dueling wills, marked by textured characterization and an ebullient storytelling style.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Racculia (This Must Be the Place, 2010) delivers an experience worth rhapsodizing about as a group of teenagers and their adult chaperones descend upon a hotel in the Catskills for a statewide music festival . . . Racculia’s droll wit and keen understanding of human nature propel a story that’s rich in distinctive characters and wholly engaging. A gem.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Part ghost story, part mystery, part coming-of-age tale, and part love sonnet to music, Racculia’s second novel (after This Must Be the Place) is dark and delightful, with memorable characters inspired by both literature and pop culture. It will grab readers and keep them with multilayered plotting and writing that ranges from humorous to poetic.” — Library Journal, starred review

“A musical mystery that strikes nary a false note. Encore, encore.” — Booklist

Library Journal
★ 04/15/2014
It is time for the 1997 Statewide Music Festival at the decrepit Bellweather Hotel in New York's Catskill Mountains. The Hatmaker twins, bassoonist "Rabbit" and his singing-diva sister Alice, are attending with their chaperone Mrs. Wilson, a former piano prodigy. Longtime concierge Hastings is there to welcome them and the other high school musicians, along with volatile orchestra conductor Fisher Brodie and savage Statewide Music director Viola Fabian. Aside from the festival, the Bellweather is best known for a murder/suicide in room 712. The event was witnessed by Minnie Graves, who arrives the same weekend—which happens to be the tragedy's 15th anniversary—to face her demons. As a snowstorm bears down on the hotel, the star flutist disappears from the same room. Is it a prank or worse? VERDICT Part ghost story, part mystery, part coming-of-age tale, and part love sonnet to music, Racculia's second novel (after This Must Be the Place) is dark and delightful, with memorable characters inspired by both literature and pop culture. It will grab readers and keep them with multilayered plotting and writing that ranges from humorous to poetic.—Nancy H. Fontaine, Norwich P.L., VT

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780544129917
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/13/2014
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
537,126
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile:
870L (what's this?)

Read an Excerpt

The Hotel Bellweather
Clinton’s Kill, New York

 
Minnie graves is a bridesmaid.
   She hates it.
   Her bangs are crispy with Aqua Net. Her ponytail is so tight her forehead aches. Her feet throb in shoes that are a size too small, Mary Janes dyed special to match the totally rancid dress Minnie’s big sister, Jennifer, picked out just for her. There’s a thing called a crinoline and she has to remember to always cross her legs and it’s a total pain in her twelve-year-old ass. And it’s pink. “It’s not pink, it’s cranberry wine,” Jennifer said, but Minnie, whose big brother, Mike, tells her about all the horror movies he watches, thinks she looks like someone dumped a bucket of pig’s blood on her.
   Minnie’s mother told her that, when the wedding started, Minnie would forget the crinoline itched and just be happy to see her big sister get married to Theodore. But Minnie’s mother lied: Minnie spends the entire ceremony glaring laser-beam eyes at Theodore’s stupid stomach, thinking it’s really appropriate that he’s named after the fat chipmunk. The priest talks forever, and then, because she is part of the poofy-dress brigade, Minnie can’t go with the rest of her cousins for cheese and crackers and little hotdogs wrapped in bacon—she actually has to stay and take pictures with these morons, and act like she’s happy and everything is totally awesome, and pretend she doesn’t know what she knows about her big sister. What she saw in the mirror this morning. She smiles so hard her cheeks hurt as bad as her smashed toes.
   The photographer wants to take pictures of the bride and groom by themselves. Minnie is free; she doesn’t wait for her parents or her brother, she just walks away. She thinks that if she stays a second longer she is going to throw up or haul off and punch someone, because she feels hot and itchy and awful and she doesn’t know how to talk about it. She stomps across the hotel lobby, away from the ballroom where she can hear the rest of her family gobbling those bacon hotdogs and blabbering—probably about how beautiful Jennifer looked, and wasn’t Theo handsome.
   They are all so stupid. Minnie feels like crying, they’re so stupid.
   At the elevators, she pushes the triangle pointing up. It turns yellow under her thumb. She doesn’t really care where she goes, she just wants to get away, so she steps in and pushes the first button she sees. Seven. It’s cracked. When it lights up the cracks glow like little bolts of lightning and Minnie wonders how many times you have to push a plastic elevator button to crack it. She steps on the heel of one shoe, then the other, and nudges them off her feet.
   The car is small, with mirrors on all sides.
   When Minnie blinks she sees Jennifer this morning. Standing with her back to the bathroom mirror, looking over her shoulder at a low bruise the size of a cantaloupe, the right spot for a kidney punch.
   “Since when don’t you knock?” Jennifer says. “Beat it, Bug.”
   “Did I do that?” Minnie asks, because they shared a bed last night, and Minnie has been known to run hurdles in her sleep.
   Jennifer’s reflection tilts its head and her eyes are sad when she says, “No, honey.” And Minnie notices the bruise is yellowish on the edges. Bruises don’t turn that color until a few days after you fall, or run into a table, or wipe out on your skates.
   Minnie doesn’t know why but her stomach aches. This feels—important. Important, and scary, and Jennifer—who has never told her little sister a single private grown-up thing—says she can’t tell anyone about it, okay? It doesn’t matter. Theo loves her. She knows Theo loves her. He promised her he’ll never do it again, and she believes him.
   “Now beat it, Bug. For real.”
   In the elevator, Minnie blinks and blinks but she can’t see anything except bruises reflected to infinity.
   When the doors open, she bolts into the hallway and feels afraid. This is the biggest hotel she’s ever been in. Not that the Holiday Inn where they stayed when they visited Hershey Park was much competition for anything, but the Bellweather is so big, so in the middle of nowhere, it’s scary. She knows she’s in the tallest part, the tower, but there are hundreds of rooms and empty ballrooms and swimming pools (more than one!) and long dark halls with dark doors.
   Stepping into the Bellweather for the first time was like being swallowed. A nice old man with a bow tie gave her a piece of candy and leaned down to say “Welcome to the Bellweather!” while her parents checked in, but it didn’t really help. He offered to take her and Mike on a tour, to the auditorium, the library, the shops, and the indoor squash courts, whatever those were; he was super-excited about showing off but Minnie didn’t want to go. She still can’t shake the awful feeling that the lobby, with its brick-red and gold and white curlicue carpet and red and gold fabric on the walls, is the stomach of some giant animal, that the old crooked chairs facing each other in half circles are rows and rows of teeth.
   And it smells. It smells like Pledge and broccoli and Grandpa, and the first thing Mike said when they got to their room was “Come play with us, Danny!” And she really did haul off and punch him then, because he knows how scared she is of that movie. He went to see it last Halloween at the drive-in. It’s her own fault, she realizes; she asked him to tell her about it. “It’s the scariest thing you’ll ever see,” Mike said, wiggling his eyebrows. “There are these two little twin girls, about your age, and their dad chops them up with an ax and you see them, like, all bloody, with their parts strewn all over the hall. And they haunt the hotel and they’re really lonely, so when this kid Danny shows up on his Big Wheel—well, they just want to play with him. But ghosts don’t play very well with the living.”
   She didn’t know which was scarier, getting chopped up with an ax or having no one to play with for eternity but your sister.
   She shivers and looks down the hallway. It stretches on and on in either direction, the lights on the walls low and flickery. Minnie realizes she is holding her shoes, one in each hand, and thinks they’re the only weapons she has.
   Against what? A little boy on a Big Wheel? Two little girls, hacked to pieces with an ax?
   No, she tells herself. Don’t think about that. That’s just a movie. It’s not real. It didn’t happen.
   She calms down for a second, but only for a second, because now that she’s not afraid of little girl ghosts she’s remembering that her sister just married a jerk. “Theo is an asshole,” she tells the hallway.
   She smiles a real smile for the first time all day.
   “Theo is a total asshole,” she says, a little louder.
   Something thumps nearby and she starts, giggles.
   “Theo is an asshole!” she shouts.
   A door in front of her explodes and a man, his chest a bursting red balloon, flies out and crumples against the opposite wall. He lands with his face turned toward her and his eyes are bright blue and open, bloodshot with shock. There is a smell of hot metal, and Minnie, stunned, squeaks. She takes a step backward.
   Then she takes a step forward.
   Minnie Graves, who has never in her life had cause to be frightened of anything not contained on a television or movie screen, who has a surfeit of imagination and twice as much curiosity, convinces herself none of this will hurt her. She only knows that she wants to see this man up close, to discover what has ejected him so violently from room 712. Her bare feet are silent and the carpet is soft, and she crouches by the man’s body. He reminds her of her Uncle Bill: younger than her parents, older than her sister or Theodore. He is wearing a tuxedo with a sort of wide belt the color of Smurfs. His chest is a pile of red meat, bright against his white shirt. Minnie has to squint to look at it, like she’s looking straight at the sun.
   He’s not dead the way Grandma Harris was dead last April. He’s not dressed neatly or lying with his hands crossed over his chest, cheeks too pink and waxy.
   He is still warm. He’s leaking parts of himself. Minnie’s head fills with cold white static.

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