The Broken Girls by Simone St. James is a mystery thriller that follows a journalist as she writes a story about an abandoned girls school being restored, which also happens to be on the property where her sister was found dead twenty years before.
2014. Fiona’s sister Deb was murdered and dumped in the sports field of an abandoned girls school twenty years ago. Someone has bought the property and plans to restore it so Fiona decides to write a story about the restoration. She wants to find the person who bought it and find out why they want to reopen it. While touring the school with the son of the woman who now owns it, Fiona is there when they discover a body down in a well. The young girl has been down there for 60 years and is believed to have been a student. Now Fiona wants to dig deeper and find out who this girl was and what happened to her. She is also starting to wonder if her sisters boyfriend, who is in prison for her murder is actually guilty of the crime.
1950. Katie, CeCe, Roberta and Sonia are living at Idlewild, an all girls school in Barrons, Vermont that is meant to house troubled girls. They are roommates and close friends, almost like sisters. They all dream about leaving the school and having freedom. One day, one of the girls is leaving to go on a family visit, hoping that these relatives will take her in. She never returns to the school although she was seen getting on the bus back to Idlewild. Her suitcase is later found in the woods, but the school and police decide that she has met a boy and run away with him.
The girls also believe the stories about the school being haunted by a girl named Mary Hand who shows you the one thing that you don’t want to see. She wears a black dress and a veil and roams the property. The story is that the teenage Mary got pregnant but was too scared to tell her parents. On the night that she gave birth, her parents found out abd helped her with the delivery, but the baby died and they took it away and buried it in the garden. Mary was distraught and thought her parents killed her baby and one night they locked her out of the house on a cold night and she ended up freezing to death.
This was almost like four stories in one. You have 1950 Barrons, Vermont and Idlewild school. Four close friends and one day one of them leaves for the weekend and doesn’t come back. Then you have 2014, Fiona is looking into the restoration of the school and still grieving twenty years after her sister was murdered and dumped on the property, which is also where a body is found, of a young student who has been in a well for 60 years. You also have the haunting ghost story of Mary Hand and what happened to her or if she is even real. And last, there is also the mystery of what really happened to Deb in 1994 and if the guilty party is really paying for his crime.
First, I loved the whole ghost aspect of the story. I love stories about ghosts and hauntings and all that stuff. I enjoyed watching this story unfold and finally find out what happened to Mary and whether she was real or not. I would love to have a novel just about this.
Second, I also really loved the 1950s flashbacks. I don’t know what it is but I love novels, especially mystery thrillers that have flashback chapters. I loved getting to know the four girls and the reasons that they were sent to the school in the first place.
Third, I love that it takes place in Vermont. That is where I was born and raised and where I still live. It’s rare that Vermont is mentioned in books, let alone a while book taking place there. Barrons from what I have been able to find out is a fictional town but the novel also mentions Burlington quite a few times, Fiona even goes there to investigate things. I live in Burlington so that was incredibly cool, in my opinion.
I really enjoyed the characters in this book. The girls from 1950 were a fun bunch if girls. They made me laugh at some things they did. I also felt for each and every one of them when they told their stories. Most of the girls in the school shouldn’t have been there, but their families didn’t know how to deal with them so they just shipped them off for someone else to handle. I loved getting to know Katie, Sonia, CeCe and Roberta. I felt for Fiona. She loved her sister so much and her life was drastically changed when she lost her. She didn’t know what to do with herself and she still lived in the past and grieved for Deb every single day. I enjoyed the relationship that Fiona and her father had. He had been a journalist as well and they just clicked so well. I also liked the romance between Fiona and Jamie, although at times I thought that Fiona was a little cold with him or in the way she thought about their relationship.
I enjoyed the current story as well. I wanted to know what happened to Deb and what the deal was with someone buying the school that had been abandoned for so long. I went on the ride right along with Fiona. I was surprised by every new thing that she uncovered and I tried to piece everything together right along with her. I was very satisfied with the outcome in the end.
This novel really threw me for a loop at times. I honestly wasn’t expecting the ending for Debs story. I really thought it was going to end a different way. Mary Hands story wasn’t really all that surprising but I still enjoyed it so much. The murder of the Idlewild girl was such a shock to me for some reason. I really thought that I knew what happened and why, but the truth really wasn’t what I was expecting. The end was also a nice surprise, I didn’t see that coming at all. I really loved how everything came together and all the lose ends were tied up. The ending was perfect and I couldn’t be more satisfied.
I gave The Broken Girls 5 stars and highly recommend it to anyone who loves mystery thrillers or a good old ghost story.