Monday, March 11, 2019

Review: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Broken Girls 
by Simone St. James
Release date: March 20th 2018
2018 Berkley
Kindle Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0451476203
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

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.

My Thoughts
The Broken Girls was an interesting mystery with a bit of a paranormal twist that I wasn't expecting. While I love paranormal stories, I don't usually like them mixed into a murder investigation like this, but for whatever reason, it seemed to work without being tacky.  When rumours that an old, run-down boarding house about to be renovated actually become reality, it can't be helped that an old murder from twenty years ago is brought up in the media drawing further attention to the project because the old murder happened on the house's grounds.  Naturally, being old and run-down, stories persist about it being haunted. Now this is definitely my kind of thing to read. 

The story actually alternates between two time periods, 2014 and 1950.  The first is told from Fiona's point of view, which is kind of the one I found the most interesting simply because Fiona's sister was the one murdered twenty years ago and I found her story fascinating.  I liked how her grief wasn't pushed aside but rather acknowledged as real even though it's been so long. I also liked how it's woven throughout her friendships and in her relationship with her dad, a famous journalist himself.  The moments when they confront their grief as they discover new clues in their hunt for the truth are well-written.  I liked how the author doesn't just gloss over how difficult it was for everyone and how life was like when something like that happens.

The other story line, in 1950, was told from multiple perspectives, but it was woven quite seamlessly into the first which made the jump back and forth quite easy.  And while I found the first story line more interesting, that isn't saying much because I pretty much devoured this book in several hours. You were able to understand the points of view of the four girls who were friends and roommates and of course, their secrets were revealed as the story progressed, woven into the first story line, as clues were discovered.  Quite well done actually.  And there are a lot of secrets to discover, some of which I figured out and one main one which I didn't.  I still love that element of surprise, makes the reading experience so much richer.

Interesting enough, the paranormal aspect to this story actually became my favourite part of the book.  It definitely gave it a gothic feel, making the whole thing feel spooky.  The atmosphere kept me immersed in the book and I loved the mystery feel of it.  However, I will have to say that I was kind of disappointed in the end  as I felt too many coincidences were happening, and it felt like the author was losing control of the story, like a runaway train with you trying to jump on.  I'm all for coincidences, but when too many are used as plot points, it gets old, fast, and then the writing gets all mixed up and confused.  

The Broken Girls is a good, entertaining story with a gothic feel. I enjoyed the characters and thought the story flowed quite nicely, until the end, with a nice paranormal aspect thrown in for good measure.  Definitely recommend this book for those of you who like dual story lines, good writing, interesting mystery, and an intriguing mystery.



  1. first time hearing of this one and while I don't dabble as often in the genre anymore, I sounds GOOD! Thanks for sharing!

  2. great review and it does sound like one i would enjoy
    sherry @ fundinmental