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These Broken Girls by Simone St. James: A Book Review

These Broken Girls
Author: Simone St. James
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery and Suspense, Paranormal
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Pages: 334
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis: 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…

      My Review: In 1950, four teenage girls become friends at Idlewild Hall, a boarding school for troublemakers and illegitimate children. When one of the girls mysteriously disappears, her friends decide to investigate. Over the decades, the boarding school slowly becomes discontinued and eventually abandoned. However, in 2014, Idlewild Hall is being renovated by a wealthy benefactor. Journalist Fiona Shaw wants to write an article about Idlewild Hall’s restoration because in the 1990s her sister was found dead on the school grounds. As she searches for clues to her sister’s murder, Fiona unlocks the hidden secrets of the school’s past.

    These Broken Girls is told in third person that switches from the past in 1950 to 2014. I thought the past storyline was more intriguing than the modern storyline. I found the past characters to be very compelling, and I loved each of them. Each of them had a distinct personality. One of the girls was the leader, another was tomboyish, one was a follower, and the fourth was very quiet. Each of them had a tragic past that is slowly revealed to the reader. However, they bonded and helped each other through their most difficult moments. These characters were very realistic and engaging and I could not wait to see what happened to them.

  Fiona was not as intriguing as the characters in the 1950s. There were times in which I wanted to skip her story and move on to the chapters set in the past. Fiona still has questions surrounding her sister’s murder and wants to know the truth. She is very persistent in finding her sister’s murderer. She is in a relationship with a cop but does not want to be tied down. Besides these details, there is not much character development to Fiona. There are moments in which she shines and uses her wits, but information comes easily available to her.

  Overall, These Broken Girls explores love in various forms. The novel’s main themes are families and friendships. The story starts out slow, but quickly picks up speed towards the end. The Gothic setting made for a spine-chilling and bloodcurdling read. One thing I did not like about this book was the ghost character of Mary Hand. There were moments in which her character did not make any sense. The ghost element did not enhance the story and should have been eliminated from the novel. I have to add that I was very impressed with Mrs. St. James’s latest novel. I have read all her works and was getting tired of them because she kept using the same formula in her novels. However, These Broken Girls was a very refreshing read because it had a different setting and plot. This latest novel restored my hopes with Simone St. James, and I’m excited to read her next work! This novel is perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Karen White, and Susanna Kearsley!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



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