Saturday, March 17, 2018

ARC Review: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Broken Girls
Author: Simone St. James
Publication: Berkley (March 20, 2018)

Description: Vermont, 1950. There's a place for the girls whom no one wants--the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It's called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it's located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming--until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she's tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister's death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister's boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can't shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past--and a voice that won't be silenced. . . .

My Thoughts: THE BROKEN GIRLS was an amazing mystery filled with secrets. Fiona Sheridan is a freelance journalist living in Vermont. The year is 2014 and she is still haunted by the death of her older sister in 1994. Her sister's boyfriend and local golden boy Tom Christopher was convicted of the murder but Fiona still has questions and spends a lot of time at the site where her sister Deb was found - the playing fields of long-closed boarding school Idlewild which was where troublesome girls were sent.

When Fiona learns that Idlewild Hall was purchased and is going to be restored as a new boarding school, she decides to write a story about it. Idlewild Hall has always had rumors of being haunted and even the local kids were afraid to explore it. When a body is found during the restoration, Fiona becomes even more determined. First, to find out who the girl was and then to learn the secrets buried at Idlewild Hall.

The story is told in two main sections. One section tells the story of four girls who were roommates in 1950 and what happens when one of them goes missing. The girls were throw-aways from their families. Katie was raped at thirteen which embarrassed her family enough to send her away. She is smart, beautiful and a magnet for trouble. Roberta went mute after she saw her Army veteran uncle about to commit suicide. Both situations, Roberta's issues and the uncle's attempted suicide were also embarrassing. CeCe is the illegitimate daughter of a rich powerful man and his housekeeper who was sent to Idlewild Hall after her mother tried to kill her. Sonia is a orphan and a survivor of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp.

The second section takes place in 2014 when Fiona begins her investigation. She's dating the son of the retired police chief but his family is against the relationship. Cops and journalists aren't supposed to be that close. The former police chief is a firm member of the good old boys club that is known for doing favors for friends rather than following the letter of the law.

I really enjoyed this story. I liked the way the two time periods (or three if you count 1994 when Fiona's sister Deb was murdered) were all interwoven. The book was filled with secrets that were gradually revealed. The characters were all engaging. The ghost that haunted Idlewild Hall and showed people their worst moments added a wonderful creepiness to the whole story.

I highly recommend this book.

Favorite Quote:
Sonia's chair jerked: Katie, kicking it from the desk behind. Sonia had never seen a girl who got bored as fast, or as dangerously, as Katie. Roberta had the ability to be still, and CeCe rarely got bored at all, but behind Katie's tilted, dark-lashed eyes lurked a restless intelligence that sometimes looked for trouble.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. I really liked this book too. It was my first book by Simone St. James.

    Excellent story line - loved the dual time line.

    The ghost did add a creepiness, but didn't take over.

    Great review...thanks for sharing.


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