Penguin Publishing Group | March 2018 | 336 pgs
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

In 1994 Vermont, Deb Sheridan was strangled and dumped in the middle of the former sports field on the abandoned grounds of Idlewild Hall (a former girls' boarding school which was closed and abandoned since 1979) on Old Barrons Road. She was twenty then. Her boyfriend, Tim Christopher, had spent twenty years in the prison for the crime though he'd claimed he was innocent. Fiona, Deb's younger sister was seventeen then and the murder had torn the family apart. Despite twenty years have passed and Tim was put behind bars, Fiona who is now a journalist with Lively Vermont, still harbours doubts about the truth surrounding Deb's death since no footprints or tire tracks were found and there was no logical way how Tim could dump Deb's body without leaving any traces. Her curiosity is further sparked when someone is restoring the abandoned Idlewild Hall. Who is the new owner and what's the motive for this restoration project? Fiona Sheridan is keen to find out, after all it is near the site where her elder sister's body was found. 

In 1950, Katie Winthrop, Roberta Greene, CeCe Frank and Sonia Gallipeau are students of Idlewild boarding school. Most students are enrolled there for a reason and they aren't entirely good - they are either sent there for misbehaviours, complicated family issues or no one wants them. Nevertheless, the four girls bonded quickly regardless of their personality differences or their personal baggage. They are the Idlewild girls who aren't intimidated by talks and rumours except for one thing - they are all scared of Mary Hand; a specter who is believed to haunt the Idlewild ground and that her baby was buried in the school's garden. As they live in fear surrounding Mary Hand's rumours, it was until Sonia's disappearance that allowed the other three girls to set their fear aside to look for the truth regarding their missing friend. What really happened to Sonia? 

These two different incidents in two different timeframes may not seem to have any connection but they do in a way, as Fiona found out towards the end as she searches the truth surrounding Deb's death and then stumbled upon a truth of the past along the way. There are many dark sides to this story - the creepiness of Mary Hand and her hauntings, the horror of the Nazi and the women's concentration camps back in the 1940s (this is Sonia's story but I'd leave it to you to find out yourself) and finally, the evil minds of the human beings who would do anything for their own benefits. 

Simone St. James excels not only on the storytelling part but also skillfully connecting the two events and made this both a creepy and suspenseful read as a whole. Needless to say, the book held my attention throughout my reading journey and I'm glad to say I've found a new favourite author after having read her two previous books (Silence for the Dead and An Inquiry into Love and Death). 

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12 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    That’s two glowing reviews of this book today. I’ll definitely be reading it!

  2. Melody Says:

    Jenny - It was good! I hope you'll enjoy it.

  3. Kay Says:

    Glad you enjoyed it, Melody! I did too. My thoughts on it will be up later next week. I tried this author's first book last year and didn't think she was for me. However, I've changed my mind. I plan to go back and consider her previous books and look forward to what comes next for her.

  4. jenclair Says:

    I didn't read St. James' earlier books until after reading (and loving) The Broken Girls--which such a great ghost story. I will look forward to her next book, but don't think I'll try any more of her earlier books.

  5. Melody Says:

    Kay - I'll be curious on your take of it, Kay. I haven't read all her books yet, but the two I read previously I enjoyed them very much.

  6. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - Me too. I read this book first and it had me searching for her earlier books. I'll read her other books at some point, I suppose, but most of all I want a new release by her. :)

  7. Lark Says:

    I'm so jealous! I'm still waiting for my hold of this book to come in at the library. And I'm so glad you love St. James, too. She's one of my favorite authors, too. :D Have a great weekend!

  8. Melody Says:

    Lark - I hope the library copy will arrive quickly! Looking forward to your thoughts on it. You too have a great weekend. :)

  9. I loved this book too! Mary Hand freaked me out a few times. So creepy! I've read a couple of her previous books and liked them, and I thought that The Broken Girls had a different "feel" to it. Less Gothic Romance, maybe?

  10. Melody Says:

    Diana - Yes, Mary Hand was creepy. This book does has a different "feel" to it, but it's my favourite so far. :)

  11. Iliana Says:

    Everyone is loving this and I need to get to it! So glad you enjoyed it Melody!

  12. Melody Says:

    Iliana - It was a great suspense with a creepy feel. I hope you'll read it soon, Iliana. :)

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