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 is the first book I read through the ‘Penguin First to Read’ program. I have read one other book by her in the past, The Haunting of Maddy Clare, and I enjoyed it immensely so I was super excited to be chosen to read an advanced copy of this book.
First off let me say that there a few plot devices that I am always a sucker for in books and this book had one of my favorites. Creepy and potentially haunted institution? Check. In this case it was boarding school, Idlewild Hall, that the girls attended. It was suitably creepy and mysterious and filled with all the conflicting personalities that you would expect in a place where people were forced to live together and most of them against their will. The book bounces back and forth between this setting and the present. The four main characters for these parts of the book are all very well written and you find yourself really feeling sympathetic for them. There is one scene in particular, set during a detention period, that really gave me the chills.
While the past is a ghost story, the present is a murder mystery staring reporter Fiona Sheridan. She is another character who is also very believable because she is not perfect and has plenty of flaws. I found myself very engaged with finding out the truth about her sister right along side her.
I read this book very quickly because I found it hard to set down. Part ghost story, part historical fiction, part murder mystery; it had everything I look for in a book and I am sure that anyone who picks it up will enjoy it as well. A perfect read for those cold and rainy fall days!