It all starts out as a Shakespearean comedy : Young maiden Cressida sets out to cross the forest on a midsummer's night. Then, as the name of the town and of the novel lets on, tragedy takes over.
Of course, Oates not being cast in the Lehane or Connelly mold, the plot then moves away - far, far away! - from any cheap-thrill murder mystery and 'Carthage' turns into a dense chronicle about US prisons, smalltown America, deviant behaviour inside the US army, and outsidership.
Oates continually plays with narrative voices and points of view, rendering this quite a challenging read, apart from its 500-page format.
It's not as enthralling as 'The Accursed' but it's still very, very well worth the trouble!