by Simone St. James
Genres: Suspense thriller
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. . . .
Mix a little paranormal woo-woo with a murder-mystery and you’ll hook me. The Broken Girls by Simone St. James did just that. But the icing on the cake was Idlewild Hall, a gothic, menacing looking boarding school that once was home to troubled girls in the 1900’s. Hells yes! Turn on the light and grab a cup of cocoa before settling into this story.
The Broken Girls is the first novel I have read by St. James, but I fully intend to read her again. The story opens with a young woman being chased in the woods. The reader doesn’t know who is chasing her but I was hooked.
The story takes place in a small town of Barrons, Vermont and centers around Idlewild Hall and is told from multiple perspectives in both the past and the present. This gothic suspense will sink its claws into you.
Present Day 2014: Idlewild Hall sits abandoned in a state of decay but for Fiona Sheridan, it is a place of nightmares. Her older sister was left on the grounds after being strangled by her boyfriend Tim, who now sits behind bars. Fiona now in her thirties is plagued by questions and often ends up on the old road leading to the hall. On one such early morning, a trek through the woods to the field where her sister was found brings a surprise. Someone has purchased Idewild Hall. What begins as a quest for answers, disguised as a journalist piece for the local paper soon has her caught up in a decades-old murder-mystery and seeing ghosts. Her investigations also stir up trouble in the small town where some feel things should be left well enough alone.
I liked Fiona. She is tenacious, clever and driven by her need for answers. With the help of her boyfriend James, a local police officer who just happens to be the son of the police chief involved in her sister’s case, she begins interviewing the new owners when a grizzly discovery is made.
Idlewild Hall 1950: St. James take us into the hall and introduces us to four young girls. Katie, CeCe, Roberta, and Sonia. The four are roommates in 3C and although very different they open up and lean on each other. I thought the changing POVs was brilliantly done. It allowed us to hear each girl’s reason for being a student at Idlewild. Katie is the pretty one. She is smart, clever and the leader of their little group. CeCe is the bastard daughter of a wealthy man who sometimes sends her gifts. Roberta finds peace playing field hockey. Sonia is the smallest of the girls and suffers from what would be called PTSD today. Her story weaves in the horrors of WWII and was cleverly done.
“Mary Hand, Mary Hand, dead and buried under land…
Faster, faster. Don’t let her catch you.
She’ll say she wants to be your friend…
Do not let her in again!”
Both past and present share a ghost story and it was creeptasic. I got chills each time this spirt made an appearance and St. James wove her brilliantly into the tales. I will not share more, as I do not want to diminish the suspense, terror, and chills for you dear reader. Just know it is one of the most chilling hauntings I have ever encountered.
I originally thought I would give this 4.5 cups of coffee, but as I sit here days later I realized just how fantastic the story as a whole was. Fiona’s sister’s murder, the events that took place at Idlewild Hall, the friends, and the freakin’ ghost. It was all rather clever how St. James allowed this tale to unfold, weaving history, politics, and originality into the story.
Fans of gothic page-turners will want to grab a copy of The Broken Sisters for their bookshelf.Do you love Gothic page-turners? Murder? Ghosts and old boarding schools? Grab The Broken Girls by Simone St. James. #mustread #suspense #murder #paranormal Click To Tweet
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