A journalist uncovers the dark secrets of an abandoned boarding school in this chilling suspense novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Sun Down Motel.
Vermont, 1950. There's a place for the girls whom no one wants—the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the ones too smart for their own good. It's called Idlewild Hall, and local legend says the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their friendship blossoming—until one of them mysteriously disappears....
Vermont, 2014. Twenty years ago, journalist Fiona Sheridan's elder sister’s body was found in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And although her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of the murder, Fiona can’t stop revisiting the events, unable to shake the feeling 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 renovations links the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past—and a voice that won’t be silenced....
St. James (Lost Among the Living) graduates to hardcover with this creepy supernatural thriller set in small-town Vermont. In 2014, journalist Fiona Sheridan's interest in finding out the truth about her sister's murder which occurred 20 years earlier near Idlewild Hall, an abandoned girls' boarding school is revived by the news that the property is being restored by a mysterious out-of-towner. Fiona's boyfriend and the police in his family, however, don't want her digging too deep. Flashback to 1950, when four roommates at Idlewild build deep friendships while dealing with the sinister presence of Mary Hand, a veiled ghost whom generations of students claim haunts the garden where her dead baby is buried. Mary is a pervasive but subtle influence who makes everyone in both eras feel "so horribly afraid." All the characters must also cope with human-produced horrors such as torture and neglect. The two story lines converge on a satisfyingly settled if unhappy ending. Readers will want to see more in this vein from St. James.
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The Broken Girls
Very suspenseful! Highly recommend this book!
Not a fan of The Broken Girls
The Broken Girls by Simone St. James is a dual time-line novel (2014/1950). In Barrons, Vermont at 3 a.m. Fiona Sheridan is back on Old Barrons Road near Idlewild Hall where her sister’s body was found twenty years ago. Everyone tells her it is time to move on, but Fiona has unanswered questions. Tim Christopher, her sister’s boyfriend, was convicted of the murder and is in prison serving his sentence. When Fiona finds out that Idlewild Hall has been purchased and is being renovated to turn it back into a girl’s boarding school, she decides to write (freelance journalist) an article about it. While touring the school with Anthony Eden, son of the new owner, a body of a teenage girl is discovered in the old well. Who is she and how did she end up there? Fiona dives into the past to discover what happened to this poor girl. If she happens to turn up information in her sister’s case, all the better.
In 1950 Idlewild Hall is a girl’s boarding school for troubled girls (too independent, rebellious, illegitimate, traumatized, unwanted). CeCe, Sonia, Katie and Roberta room together and, as they get to know each other, become close friends. The lessons are boring, the teachers are rigid, and the luxuries are few. The school is rumored to be haunted by Mary Hand and one room seems to be more sinister than the others. Then one of the girls disappears-never seen again. What is going on at Idlewild Hall? Will Fiona get the answers she seeks?
I had trouble wading through The Broken Girls. I believe the author had too many ideas and, instead of picking, she put them all into this one story (murder, 1800s ghost, modern killer, a girl from a concentration camp and so much more). I found the pace to be very slow which made the book seem twice as long. I found the book disjointed with abrupt transitions. It jumps around faster than a Mexican jumping bean. Fiona Sheridan was not a likeable main character. She came across as obsessed and unsympathetic (I kept hoping the killer would make her the next victim). Much of her sections are devoted to her endless questions and speculation (it was repetitious). I found the story from the 1950s to be more fascinating than the Fiona’s. The author could have done a book just on the four girls story (and kept Fiona out of it). There are a couple of interesting moments in the book, but I mostly found the story to be predictable (mystery readers will have no problem predicting how the book will turn out). I wanted to feel the suspense and the scare factor, but I did not. I do want to warn readers that there is foul language in the book. I realize I am in the minority regarding my feelings on The Broken Girls. That is the beauty of books. Every reader has a different perspective. If you want to see if The Broken Girls is for you, download a sample from your favorite retailer.