I can’t really handle horror and scary stuff, but I don’t regret reading Bellweather Rhapsody at all. Racculia did an amazing job creating an all-star cast that is both witty and dynamic, and the interwoven plot lines are simply captivating. There’s so much going on in this book, but each story holds its own weight. This is a story that gave me chills and goosebumps, and I’m thankful everyday that I didn’t get nightmares after reading it. (And now I have to relive the story again to write this… eek!)
In winter of 1982, twelve-year-old Minnie Graves witnesses a murder/suicide in room 712 at the Bellweather Hotel. Fast-forward to fifteen years later, musical twins Rabbit and Alice Hatmaker – along with many other high school musical hopefuls – gather at the Bellweather Hotel for the annual Statewide festival. When Alice’s roommate, the young prodigy Jill Faccelli, vanishes from room 712, the old ghost tale is revived and Bellweather erupts into chaos. Among the suspects are Natalie Wink Wilson, the Hatmaker twins’ chaperone; Fisher Brodie, the orchestra conductor; Harold Hastings, the Bellweather concierge; Viola Fabian, Jill’s mother and the new director of the Statewide; and Minnie Graves, who has come back to face her nightmares again. Can they solve the mystery before it’s too late?
What can I say? Bellweather Rhapsody caught my eye right from the start with its pretty cover and the table of contents (which is styled after a programme for a play). I got to thinking of each character as an “actor” with his or her own role in the performance. And there’s minor characters in this story – everyone is in the spotlight at some point, which made me feel more attached to each character.
Rabbit and Alice Hatmaker are my favorite characters in the story. In addition to their fairy tale-esque names, their contrasting personalities also make their interactions with each other and with the other characters very interesting. Whereas Alice is a talkative, ambitious diva, Rabbit is quiet, indecisive, and very reliant on Alice. Although they have that unbreakable twin relationship, they each have their own secrets that are just waiting to be revealed.
Aside from the twins, the other characters span the personality paradigm from psychopathic, obnoxiously loud and offensive, filled with contempt, and slightly deranged. Some characters seem normal from the beginning and grow increasingly weird, while others start out weird and grow inreasingly weirder. But this is the good kind of weird that shapes each character and makes the story more fun and dramatic. (Or as fun as a ghost story can be…)
The pace of Bellweather Rhapsody is just right, although the climax at the end was more fast-paced and felt like a whirlwind of confusion and chaos that I still don’t fully understand (but that’s okay!). Racculia set the scene with “the ghost story” at the beginning, so the undercurrent of foreboding really upped the tension throughout the entire book. Also, Racculia uses the music camp setting to its utmost potential by pulling out every single bit of ambition and greed from her characters… so this is quite an unforgettable performance!
Bellweather Rhapsody brings horror fiction to a new level with its goosebump-worthy plot and its colorful characters. While this is not a book that will make you check under your bed every night and beg your mom to put a night light in your room, it’s disquieting in its own sense. On the musical performance scale, it’s not as scary as Sweeney Todd but a little scarier than The Phantom of the Opera. I demand an encore!