My Rating: 5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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…
I can’t say enough good things about the plot of this novel. The chapters alternate between the past and the present, keeping the reader on their toes and slowly putting all the puzzle pieces together. I enjoyed the ghost story elements much more than I expected and was continuously impressed with how eerie I found this story. St. James does a fantastic job of ultimately tying the two storylines together and making this mystery about some much larger themes. I’m really hesitant to share too much about this book’s plot because it is just so surprising and I don’t want to spoil anything!
I was really impressed with all of the characters in this novel. Fiona is strong, smart, and determined to uncover the truth. She’s definitely a flawed protagonist, but I think that makes her all the more compelling. I particularly enjoyed the relationships between the four roommates during the 1950 storyline. Their friendships felt so real to me and I loved seeing them lean on each other and work together to solve their own mystery. The men in this story are very much pushed to the sidelines and were really only around to support Fiona in her investigation.
Honestly, I think the title of this book is awful. There is probably a adjective to describe these girls and the struggles they’ve endured then calling them “broken.” I think that word oversimplifies the incredible journeys they undergo in this novel. I also think the representation in this book could be stronger. All of the characters are white, heterosexual, and able-bodied and I think St. James could have done a better job of diversifying her characters.
Overall, I loved this book! I was really impressed with how well St. James blended the ghost story with the more modern mystery storyline. I think this book would make a fantastic movie. This book won’t be out in the U.S. until March, but I would highly recommend this book, particularly to fans of ghost stories, Hitchcock films, and anyone who loves Tana French’s books. This was my first book by St. James but it definitely won’t be my last.
This book is…
a page turner
Publisher: Berkley Books
Page Count: 336
Available here from Book Depository.
Are you excited for The Broken Girls? What mystery have you read recently?