The Broken Girls by Simone St. James Book Review
The lowdown from Goodreads
Publication Date March 20, 2018
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 by Simone St. James Book Review
The Broken Girls is like the most wonderful episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? arrived in novel form. First, it’s a ghost story that switches between past & present. You already know I am all over that. Switching time periods keeps my attention & I can’t wait for the two timelines to intersect. Second, the story takes place at a super creepy school for troubled teen girls that is LEGIT haunted, and I don’t mean, lights flickering & cool breezes. There is a girl who haunts the property & generations of girls have seen her. Lastly, a present-day journalist can’t stay away from the dilapidated school.
Years ago, Fiona’s sister is murdered on the property. When she hears someone has the intent to re-open the school, she begins to investigate the structure & land before it changes. Even though her sister’s boyfriend is in jail for the murder, there are some facts that don’t add up.
The Ghost of Mary Hand
If I see a girl wearing a black dress & veil I am running so fast & I DON’T RUN. Mary Hand is the ghost who haunts the property. Rumor has it she was locked out of the school & froze to death. She can be heard asking you to let her in. Yep, good luck sleeping tonight! Another rumor has it that her baby was buried in the garden, the same garden where the girls are forced to attempt to grow plants. Fun times! The scariest thing about Mary Hand is she knows your deepest fears & secrets & makes you relive them!
Ghosts, Fear & Whispers
Much like the terrifying Pennywise, Mary Hand does not play around. Quietly, she’s whispering in your ear while playing field hockey making you recount your family’s saddest day. Suddenly, she’s forcing you to remember the time your mother tried to drown you when you’ve tried to so hard to forget. Hidden in the school textbooks are all sorts of stories, sightings & myths about the ghost of Mary Hand. Everyone has seen her or heard from her. Mary’s ability to know YOUR fear is what makes her so powerful & frightening. Mary Hand is a nightmare.
The Broken Girls
The present broken girl is Fiona. Her older sister’s death rocked her family & they’ve never recovered (who would?). Fiona gathers the facts to ensure she knows exactly what happened the night her sister was murdered. It has consumed most of her adult life, and if she doesn’t give it her all right now, the school, the landscape & the scene of the crime will be changed forever.
The Broken Girls of the past are the true stars of this story. These are girls who need extra love, someone to talk to & another chance. Instead, they are stuck in this crazy haunted school tormented by Mary Hand & the ghosts of their families. As the story comes together, these girls play such a large role in the novel & I loved getting a chance to learn more about each of them. These girls are not broken. Like Fiona, they are strong-willed, smart & determined to have a fulfilling life after they leave Idlewild Hall.
I am Really Into This book. I can’t recall reading a book like this where it satisfied my love for ghosts without being too paranormal. It’s a thriller that switches between past & present & I LOVE that in a book. The different narrators really keep me on the edge of my seat. The Broken Girls also centers around real relationships between women that stand the test of time & I love that as well. While Are You Sleeping was likely my favorite book of 2017, The Broken Girls is in the lead for 2018. Please read it soon; I want to talk about it!
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After years of writing and collecting rejections, Simone St. James’ debut novel, THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE, won two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America and an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada. AN INQUIRY INTO LOVE AND DEATH was nominated for another Arthur Ellis Award, and SILENCE FOR THE DEAD was shortlisted for a Goodreads Choice Award.
Simone spent twenty years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to write full-time. She lives just outside Toronto, Canada, with her husband and a spoiled rescue cat. She is addicted to sushi, old 1970’s gothic novels, rainy days, coffee, and Sherlock on the BBC. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Pinterest (though not all at once). Her next novel, releasing in 2018, is THE BROKEN GIRLS.