The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
Published by Berkley on March 20, 2018 (expected)
Genre(s): fiction, historical fiction, mystery, suspense
Format & Pages: e-book, 336
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The “clever and wonderfully chilling” (Fiona Barton) suspense novel from the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare…
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. . . .
When I first saw the description for The Broken Girls, I was thoroughly intrigued. It was only after being approved for a copy from NetGalley that I discovered there was a supernatural ghost story element to it. Ghost stories are not my cup of tea, so after putting it off for some time, I went into this a bit wary and uneasy, ready to set it down at any given moment.
What I found within these pages surprised me in the best way possible. The supernatural aspect I was so concerned about wound up being so carefully written and thoughtfully integrated that it enhanced the story instead of taking away from it. The tinge of creepiness it added was enough for me to avoid reading this before bed without being overtly scary and served to add to the story’s atmosphere.
In the end, The Broken Girls was an engrossing page-turner. I raced through it, with short chapters that made for fast reading and easy to pick up in small chunks of time, I found it difficult to put this down and was constantly thinking about the story when I wasn’t reading it. Alternating between the past (following four girls who attended the haunted Idlewild boarding school), and the present (following Fiona, the journalist who’s sister was murdered near Idlewild’s ruins), both timelines were fighting for my attention. Each were compelling in their own right and they ultimately came together in a satisfying conclusion.
In The Broken Girls, St. James has crafted a story with incredible atmosphere and heart. This is the first book I’ve read by this author but it certainly won’t be the last.
*Thanks to the publisher for providing an arc of this edition via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.