book review: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

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THE BROKEN GIRLS by Simone St. James
★★★★☆
Berkley, March 20, 2018

 

The Broken Girls is a delightfully chilling mystery-meets-ghost-story, set in Vermont (my homeland!) in two parallel timelines – one in 1950, and one in 2014. The past timeline tells the story of four girls who are roommates at a desolate boarding school called Idlewild, where unwanted and illegitimate girls are sent by their families and then neglected. There are also rumors of a ghost called Mary Hand who haunts the school grounds, and one day, one of the four friends vanishes. In the present, journalist Fiona Sheridan attempts to come to terms with her sister’s murder, which occurred 20 years ago near the ruins of Idlewild.

Interestingly, there aren’t a whole lost of twists and turns in this book. In lieu of shock and awe, Simone St. James lends her efforts to weaving together several seemingly unrelated plot threads, and she does so expertly. This is a book for readers who like satisfying conclusions and neat resolutions – I didn’t have a big ‘wow’ moment, which I tend to enjoy while reading this genre, but the storytelling was superb, and I had fun reading this book from start to finish.

Naturally I love when books are set in Vermont, and St. James delivered with the atmosphere. Though the town of Barrons and Idlewild Hall may be fictional, the dark, bleak tone of a rural Vermont winter was captured perfectly. It’s the ideal setting for a ghost story in many ways, and St. James took advantage of that to create a ghost who’s as intriguing as she is haunting. The research St. James put into this novel is also admirable, particularly regarding the Ravensbrück concentration camp, a chilling piece of history which features into one character’s backstory.

The characters themselves are very well developed, though my main complaint about this book was the heavy focus on Fiona’s relationship with her police officer boyfriend, which lent itself to a somewhat cliched ‘his parents disapprove because cops and journalists can’t mingle’ sort of narrative. But the girls in the 1950 timeline though were vivid and compelling enough to make up for this for me, and I didn’t mind Fiona herself.

Anyway, since I started this on Saturday morning and finished it on Sunday afternoon, The Broken Girls is the perfect book to get lost in for a weekend if you’re looking for something quick, eerie, and compelling.

I chose this book as my February Book of the Month selection.  If you’re interested in checking out this great subscription service, feel free to use my referral link!  The Broken Girls will be published on March 20, 2018.

9 thoughts on “book review: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

  1. YAY I’m glad you liked this, idk why but when I got it in the mail I had a sudden burst of doubt that it would be terrible because I hadn’t looked into it as much as previous BOTMs?? I feel much more confident now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’M PRETTY SURE YOU WILL LIKE IT. New England + ghosts + WWII history, what’s not to love?? Tbh I felt the same way though, this is so mean but I really do judge books by their covers and I hate this cover so I was like ‘this book is gonna be Bad, isn’t it’ rip

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL I am not huge fan of the cover either, maybe it’s the font?? But it really doesn’t do the story justice, I wish the art was something a bit darker or creepier.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think it’s the corny burnt edges that get me….. WHY!!!! That combined with the font is just tragic rip. And I like the background image a lot, they were working with something good and they just dropped the damn ball

        Liked by 1 person

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