Book: The Broken Girls
Author: Simone St. James
Publication Date: March 20, 2018
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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. . . .
The Broken Girls was one of the choices for February’s Book of the Month, with the added bonus of it being an exclusive early release for BOTM subscribers. I always appreciate it when subscription boxes include a book before it’s released to the general public, and I was really excited after I read the description for The Broken Girls. I immediately added it to my cart and read it right away when it arrived!
First, I would like to point out that this book is not heavily paranormal. Yes, there are paranormal elements, but it is not the main focus. It is spooky and atmospheric, but you will still find it weighs more on the investigative side of a murder case.
The Broken Girls is told in parallel timelines; jumping between the past (1950) and the present (2014). In the past, the chapters alternate between the four teen roommates at Idlewild Hall boarding school: Katie, Cece, Roberta, and Sonia. These girls are the best of friends, and they are considered “troublemakers” or “cast offs”. Then, one of them disappears.
Flash forward to 2014, and our main protagonist, journalist Fiona Sheridan, investigates the reconstruction of Idlewild Hall. Fiona tries to find the link between her own sister’s murder that happened near Idlewild 20 years ago, to the disappearance of the Idlewild student in 1950.
With that being said, lets talk about the good and the bad:
- I liked that we got a glimpse into each of the four roommates at Idlewild. Each girl took on a “role”, and we learn that the reasons they ended up at the boarding school range from family drama to things much more evil.
- The legend of Mary Hand brought a fun, creepy element to the story. I was worried it would make things cheesy, but it was done very well.
- There are so many mysteries within mysteries within mysteries in this book. The author leaves lots of bread crumbs and clues for you to follow, whether it be in the past or present.
- Fiona is pretty badass. I love that she didn’t fall into the “unreliable narrator” trope, even though in the beginning she acts a little off.
- Actually, all the women are pretty badass!
The Bad (but not really that bad, tbh):
- Fiona’s sister’s murder plot line felt a bit weak and overshadowed by the other mysteries throughout the book. Also, the outcome of that was rather predictable.
- Fiona’s boyfriend is a cop, and I had to roll my eyes a few times at his behavior. He wasn’t a very well written character, and fell into many “cop tropes.” (He did have some redeeming qualities, so not all hope is lost.)
- There was a lack of chemistry between Fiona and her boyfriend. I think the story would have been great if he wasn’t even in the picture, but I understand why it was needed.
This was such a fun page turner that I recommend you read right before bed to get all the spooky feels. I gave it 4 stars because I was totally hooked from beginning to end.
Note that the link provided to Book of the Month is my personal referral link. If you choose to subscribe using my link, I receive a free book credit. 🙂