Lena Gereghty had a rough go of it in medical school, where burnout and mounting debt drained her motivation. When her Aunt Clare, a renowned specialist in medieval botany, offered her an internship in Italy, Lena pounced on the chance to escape and heal. For two glorious years she felt purpose, joy and even a flickering of renewed passion for medicine.
Alas, those halcyon days suffer an abrupt end at the beginning of debut author Kit Mayquist’s Tripping Arcadia when floundering family finances draw Lena back to Boston. Her father was injured at and fired from work, and her parents desperately need her help. She’s primed to take the first position offered, despite a parade’s worth of red flags at the weirdest job interview ever—assistant to Dr. Prosenko, family physician for the powerful Verdeau family..
Lena soon realizes the Verdeau family secrets go far beyond rich people-eccentric into the realm of downright depraved. While she’s ostensibly meant to help the doctor tend to Jonathan, heir to patriarch Martin’s massive fortune, Lena is soon on duty for debauched parties at the family’s Berkshires mansion. The outfits are stunning, the food plentiful, the drugs slipped into attendees’ drinks so liberally that there’s a room just for treating overdoses.
Lena struggles with culture shock heavily tinged with disgust and frustration: Martin is often cruel yet never challenged; Jonathan is quite ill yet drinks heavily; and his sister, Audrey, is magnetically appealing yet aloof. But Lena’s well paid so she goes along, despite becoming increasingly horrified at what she learns about the Verdeaus.
As Lena plots poisonous revenge (who says internships aren’t useful?), Mayquist embraces the gothic genre with delicious glee, peeling back a shimmery overlay of glamour to expose the rot beneath. With Tripping Arcadia, he has crafted a tale that thrums with eat-the-rich vibes and the exhilarating prospect of a have-not prevailing over the have-everythings. Its reckoning with the state of work in a capitalist society will energize readers, and they’ll be rooting for the flawed yet captivating Lena through every creative twist and dark detail.