Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: ghosts, war crimes, violence, death, murder.
Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
“Mary Hand, Mary Hand, dead and buried under land…
Faster, faster. Don’t let her catch you!
She’ll say she wants to be your friend…
Do not let her in again!”
This is the third book I’ve read this year about a ghost story in Vermont… authors, what are you trying to say? Also, what does that say about my reading tastes, lol?
The Broken Girls is a dual timeline novel, with the first plot set in 1950. Four girls (Katie, Roberta, CeCe, and Sonia) attend Idlewild Hall, a boarding school for troubled girls in Barrons, VT (a fictional town). As roommates, these girls form a strong bond, determined to someday make it out of creepy, haunted Idlewild. However, when one of these girls goes missing, the other three promise that no matter what, they will find her.
The second timeline is set in 2014, where journalist Fiona decides to cover the story of the renovations of the dilapidated Idlewild. After closing in the 1960s, the building’s local legend fended off buyers and developers with it’s eerie atmosphere and rumors of seeing the ghost of Mary Hand. While Fiona was interviewing the son of the latest buyer, they were interrupted by the discovery of a body in a dry well. As the identity of the corpse becomes known, and Fiona’s own past intertwines with Idlewild’s, she dives into the background of the school to solve the cold case.
I absolutely loved St. James’ novel. Not only is her writing descriptive, but she creates such imagery that you can believe in someone seeing a ghost. I also really enjoyed the twists and turns that brought all the characters together, and didn’t see the ending coming. St. James has excellent pacing, fast enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, but suspenseful enough not to give everything away all at once. For a paranormal novel, it’s not too outlandish or scary, so even those sensitive to graphic scenes would be able handle this novel.
I’ll also add that I listened to the audiobook, and it’s narration was fantastic. I found myself wanting to listen to the audio even when I wasn’t multitasking, as I usually do. Rebecca Lowman lends her voice to the characters, and her soothing tone easily took me into the story setting.
Published: March 20, 2018
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
TL/DR: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James is a historical fiction meets ghost story about four girls in the past, and one woman in the future, who want to bring the ghosts that haunt them to rest.
Read it? Yes, and if you’d rather listen to the audiobook, I highly recommend that too!
Recommend it? Yes, if you can handle scary but not grotesque novels. Best for adults or mature readers.
Buy it? YES, especially if you love a good ghost story.
If you liked this novel or review, check out these similar reads:
- The Invited by Jennifer McMahon
- Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
- The Ghost Clause by Howard Norman