Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Review: Dreams of Arcadia by Brian Porter

 Genre: Mystery


Dreams of Arcadia is the story of Nate Holub, a Houston veterinarian with two teenage daughters. Nate accepts a job in his late father’s hometown but wonders if a city boy truly has what it takes to be a country vet. As he struggles to adjust, he reconnects with his family and discovers that his father’s accidental death thirty years earlier was much more complicated than he realized.

Nate probes the past, afraid of what he might find. He encounters a resentful cousin, a wary town patriarch, a reclusive uncle and his long-sequestered daughter, a beguiling hidden garden, a mysterious illness, and a war widow who shows him that love is still possible. He is drawn to the Holub family farm, where he seeks refuge in nature and tries desperately to reach Viola, his inscrutable grandmother. The farm is a place that haunts his memory, a place where dark family secrets dwell.

Dreams of Arcadia is a plot-driven mystery story, but it could also be viewed as an allegory for our ultimate reliance on the natural world, for the healing power of nature. The setting is a colorful and culturally distinct region of Texas settled by Czech and German immigrants, not the Texas of popular imagination.”


“Brian Porter lives in College Station, Texas, where he works as a veterinary pathologist. He previously worked in private veterinary practice and once taught high school chemistry. Dreams of Arcadia is his first novel.”


While the majority of this book takes place in the non-existent DeLeon County, Texas, it could be several counties within a couple hundred miles to the west or northwest of Houston and be a good fit. Several story threads keep things interesting, from the obvious one (is the protagonist Nate going to manage the transition from being a vet for mostly dogs and cats in Houston to one that deals primarily with cows out in the country), to the mystery that quickly comes to light regarding the whole story behind the death of Nick’s dad thirty years before.

I found the contrast between living in the city compared to rural farm country as well as the struggles a divorced father goes through as presented in this story to be credible and thought provoking. The relationship between Nate and his extended family who still live in this rural area where Nate’s dad grew up as well as the complication that can happen in a place so small that it seems like everyone knows everyone else keeps the story interesting as well. All in all, this was a unique and engaging story.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK


Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

Review is based on an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) and I can’t gauge the final product in this area.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

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