Cover Image: The Broken Girls

The Broken Girls

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Not what I wanted, not what i asked for. Dnfed after 40 pages. ..........................not for me at all. Thanks.

Was this review helpful?

With an overflow of female-centric thrillers, it always refreshing to find a unique read that offers beautiful storytelling and a chilling narrative that effectively acts as a page turner. “The Broken Girls” by Simone St. James offers multiple character perspectives in two different times including three roommates at Idlewood Hall, a boarding school for troubled girls in the 1950s and a grieving sister who has a strange connection to the boarding school property over 27 yrs later ... just as the hall is being restored. A perfect read for those wanting to curl up and get lost in a captivating read.

Was this review helpful?

The book goes back and forth two timelines, sort of three, and has a supernatural element woven in. However, I felt like none of those elements were in depth enough to pull me in. It was good enough to red through with just a little glossing over, so it's fine for a fairly easy and enjoyable afternoon read,

Was this review helpful?

My review is on my blog located here:

Was this review helpful?

A haunting mystery filled with the perfect amount of chills and thrills!

Mary Hand Mary Hand, Dead and buried under land. She’ll say she wants to be your friend. Do not let her in again.

This book was a bit of a genre potpourri.... a dose of mystery, a measure of thriller,a shot of historical fiction, a sprinkling of the paranormal, and a pinch of romance! All these genres were blended seamlessly creating one heck of a book! This book definitely caught me by surprise, I really was not expecting to like it quite as much as I did... I was completely entranced by the words on the pages throughout this entire book... bravo Simone St. James!

The story was told from duel timeperiods and multiple points of view... this was done flawlessly, there was never any confusion as to time or perspective... something about Miss St. James writing just transported me completely to 1950 and 2014 Vermont....

1950 four roommates, for“misfits“ sent away to boarding school at Idlewild Hall... when one of them goes missing, the other three are the only ones convinced that there was foul play at work.... what I loved about this part of the story is we got all four of the girls perspectives, and really got to know them and their backstories... The bond that forms between these girls was unbreakable, kind of ironic when the world saw them as broken.... three smart savvy girls determined to seek justice for their friend...

2014 Fiona is still haunted by the murder of her older sister Deb... still uncertain that the right person was convicted of The crime and still drawn to Idlewild Hall where her sister’s body was found... when somebody begins to renovate Idlewild Fiona is driven to write a story about the renovation.... but as she begins to dig into the history of Idlewild she finds herself with more questions than answers... what I love most about this part of the story was Fiona herself, she was so fierce and determined, I could just feel her love for her sister coming off the pages!

Two very different stories woven together with threads of Idlewild Hall, Family, friendship, love, and a ghost... I really enjoyed both storylines equally... I was mesmerized by the past and compelled by the present... so many twists and turns that took me by surprise... so many times during this book I found myself literally sitting on the edge of my seat.... all the characters in this book were so well developed, so real, I felt as though I would know them if they were walking down the street.... although I must admit Fiona was my favorite, I really had a soft spot for her and really wanted her romance with Jamie to work out! Don’t panic if you don’t like romance, this was a very small part of the story, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

A captivating and compelling story that I would absolutely recommend to anyone who enjoys a good thriller! Don’t let the ghost scare you off!

*** A huge thanks to Berkley for my copy of this book ***

Was this review helpful?

Haunting, captivating, chilling, and brilliant—in a story about a place where society sent the misfits, the unwanted, the forgotten, and the ghosts, I found a story about how these forgotten women discovered their voices. To me, the voices of the girls in this novel were like a symphony—they were the voices of girls who were mistreated but powerful when they found one another, and they’ll stay with me long after reading it.

About the Book

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.

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 the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past--and a voice that won't be silenced. . . .


Sometimes I read a book and I struggle to do it justice in my review. This is one of those books for me, because I don’t know how to highlight all of the wonderful aspects of the story in a single review. The intricate weaving of Fiona’s investigation in 2014, her sister Deb’s murder in 1994, and the girls of Idlewild Hall in 1950 is masterful. Each story is so compelling, that I looked forward to reading more.

As the story progresses, I felt pulled towards the story in 1950, which became my obsession along with Fiona’s. And when the pieces of the three stories come together in the end, it was so perfect that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t understood that this was how it would all end. Of course this is how the story will end! It was perfect—I felt pensive and elated, energized and peaceful.

Fiona can’t let her sister’s murder twenty years earlier go. She’s completely haunted, and in a way Fiona has never truly lived her life. Remaining in her small town, she still wants to understand why Deb was left for dead in that yard for the abandoned boarding school for girls. I loved Fiona, and in her own way she is one of the broken girls from the title, though she lived. Fiona is passionate but fragile—I loved the way her mind followed the story and put the pieces together.

The Idlewild girls from the 1950s will totally steal your heart! Katie is beautiful and tough, but maybe not as strong as she seems. Cece is loyal and caring, and consistently underestimated. Roberta is strong and loving, hiding demons that haunt her. And Sonia is small and quiet, but she has a strength that others don’t realize. Their friendship and stories are mesmerizing and dark.

These are girls who society decided are problems. They are written off as troubled, but as you learn more about them, they haven’t done anything to be considered that way. Their crime is being born in a time when society didn’t accept them and support them. Sent to Idlewild where they can quickly be forgotten by their families, these girls are not ones to brushed aside. A group of lost, broken girls find strength through their pure friendship, love, and support. I will think about these four girls for years to come. They were the best part of the book for me—their stories and the melding of their voices are so beautiful.

I missed The Broken Girls the first time around, but I was fortunate to get a chance to read it this time for the paperback release! If you didn’t order this book yet, now is the perfect time. I absolutely LOVED this book!

Was this review helpful?

Surprising and heartbreaking, I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this story. It was the mystery I didn't know I needed.

Was this review helpful?

I picked this one up because I do love psychological thrillers and I had heard so much about it. I am definitely on the fence about my reaction. The book is set in 1950, as well as 2014. There is a ghost story aspect to it and that is what has me undecided. It was a great thriller, but personally, I could have done without the ghost story.

Was this review helpful?

Just the right amount of spooky!!

Highly recommend this one, excellent book well written and characters that stay with you!

I ended up listening to the audiobook and Rebecca Lowman's narration was great and really brought out the emotion!

Was this review helpful?

While this book was creepier than what I usually read, I enjoyed it. Simone St James came to the bookstore, and after hearing her speak I was dying to read her latest. It did not disappoint.

Was this review helpful?

Wow what a chilling read with so many layers to the story. Wonderful characters who fully developed through out the story. Interesting to read how the girls communicated thought the writing in the text books from generation to generation. Love the alternating time line. I will be recommending this to all my reading friends. Thank you so much for this ARC.

Was this review helpful?

This book was my first paranormal/thriller and it did not disappoint. I loved that it had the right amount of everything! The mystery involving the French student 40 years ago, the sights of a ghost in an old boarding school. This well written book will keep you hooked because you go back and forth in time trying to solve this mystery and wondering who’s this ghost creeping around.

Was this review helpful?

I have to say this book surprised me a lot more than I thought it would. I think I ended up putting it off for so long because it was classified as part historical. I am not a huge fan of historical reads. This however has mention of historical things but isn't focused on that.

So this story is about Fiona who is a journalist who lost her sister years ago. Even though the case was solved and the man found guilty was put in jail, Fiona can't stop revisiting the site where her sister was killed. Eventually she finds out the place is getting renovated and she decides to write a story on it. She soon discovers there is a lot more to it then she initially thought. A bunch of secrets from the past begin to unravel.

I have to say I really enjoyed that not only was the story told from different perspectives but that it was told from different time periods as well. You have the story told in 1950 and the story also told in 2014. I really enjoyed seeing how the two ended up connecting. I think this really adds to the story. It gave a lot of depth to the story. Plus it was nice getting to learn more about these different characters and reading the things they experienced.

I have to say I think the only thing I wasn't a huge fan of was the paranormal aspect of the book. I can understand why it was added. It did add to the creepy factor of the book but at the same time I found myself zoning out when those parts were mentioned. I wasn't super invested in them.

Also I thought Simone's writing was very well done. She's very descriptive and I never felt bored of the story. She did a great job bringing Idlewild Hall to life and giving it the creepy vibes everyone was so freaked out by. I will definitely be checking out more books from her in the future.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this book. Mystery, thriller, supernatural? Count me in. I really enjoyed the different perspectives from the four girls and Fiona, in the present. There were a few twists I did not see coming, and some I did. But, it didn't matter. I loved the book regardless.

Was this review helpful?

In 1950 Idlewild Hall, located in the Vermont countryside, is a boarding school for troubled girls. In 2014 it's an abandoned (and some say haunted) murder site. A personal connection compels journalist Fiona Sheridan to investigate when she hears an elderly lady has purchased Idlewild with plans for a full-scale renovation. As she follows clues to one twenty-year old murder, she stumbles upon connecting friendships, disappearance and death in the past. It doesn't take long for Fiona to realize she's a target, and someone definitely doesn't want her poking around. Dark and haunting, this is a satisfying Gothic horror story that kept me turning pages into the night!

Was this review helpful?

Wow. Amazing. Unbelievable. These words don't even cover the half of it. The characters, the story, and the writing on their own are all wonderful; but when put together they make this mystery amazing. We have two story lines to follow: one in 1950 with Katie, Sonia, Roberta, and CeCe; the other in 2014 with Fiona, her cop boyfriend Jamie, and her dead sister Deb. It all centers around a haunted boarding school for girls whose families don't know what else to do with them. In 1950, the four girls are just trying to survive until they can come of age and take over their own lives when Sonia goes missing. None of the adults will do anything to try to find her and the remaining three girls vow to find out what happened. In 1994, Fiona's sister Deb was murdered by her college boyfriend and her body dumped at the school. Now in 2014 Fiona finds out the school has been bought in order to restore it. As a journalist she wants to find out the whole story.

Alternating between the two years, the two seemingly unrelated timelines merge and the story will just keep surprising you. The twists will keep you guessing all the way to the end.

I was given an Advanced Review Copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

Right from the start this book is chilling, filled with ghosts, murders, and unhappy girls. The opening scene makes you want to learn more. Who is this girl, who is chasing her, what happened to her, are questions that stuck with me throughout the book. The author makes the reader longing for the answers and gives them out in a perfect speed. This makes the whole book a pleasure to read.

In the end I could not put it away, I just had to know the answers. The author is taunting the reader in a nice way, draging them through a story that makes you question things you know. Even the book questions known facts it established in the beginning in order to get the reader to continue to learn the truth.

This book is not recommended home alone on a stormy night. I am not easily frighten, but my neck hair rose plenty of times, and my bedroom felt cold and unrecognizable while reading this book.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley for this free readers edition. In exchange I am providing an honest review.

Oh my. When I started the story I wasn't too sure. I felt disinterested but that changed. Quickly. And my disinterest was most likely due to my life rather than St. James writing.

In 1950 an all-girls boarding school was located in Barrons, Vermont. It wasn't the posh kind of boarding school, not the ones where wealthy families sent their daughters to get stellar education. No, it was a boarding school where girls who were labeled troublemakers got sent. As we find out in the book girls who almost got killed by their own mothers, or girls who were raped, or girls who witnessed family members trying to commit suicide - you know those kind of troublemaking girls...(does the mindset of the that era frustrate anyone else like it does me?) Anyway. A boarding school full of troubled girls who were receiving mediocre education and nobody cared about. They had to care about each other. In November of 1950 one of them goes missing, almost certainly she's dead.

In 2014 Fiona Sheridan finds herself one dark night strolling the grounds outside the long closed Idlewild, an all-girls boarding school that closed back in the 60's. She's here because her sister was found in the middle of Idlewild's field 20 years ago, strangled and left for dead. She can't let it go. Yes, the person who did it was caught and is serving a life sentence but she just can't let it go. She see signs on the fences that someone has decided to restore Idlewild and make it an all-girls boarding school. "Oh hell no" is Fiona's first thought. This thought sets her on a course to answer questions from her sister's murder 20 years ago and leads her down another pat of mystery - a girl who disappeared from there in 1950. What Fiona discovers just may set many people free.

This was an engaging read from St. James, whom I haven't read before. She wove a good mystery into this story of missing and dead women. The mingling of supernatural and reality was well done. I really liked her style of writing so I'm looking to pick up other titles she has authored.

Was this review helpful?

Creepy? Got it. Atmosphere? Got it. Characters you’ll love? All here. History? That’s here too.
Canadian Author Simone St James breaks away from her previous flapper age format and delves into a few different ages through modern history.

There are several main characters that are the focus of this piece, each with their own background and story to tell reaching back and forth in time to remind you that history is just slightly out of our grasp but close enough to matter and ripple into the present. The backdrop is an all-girls school, where the very earth that it is built upon is rotten, which in itself is creepy even without the paranormal that springs from it. The girls are assumed to be as rotten as their surroundings, but you realize that despite their circumstances, they are just kids fighting for their futures and having to learn scathing lessons from the adults in their lives that failed them, and in the 1940s and 1950s there were no programs to cushion the aftermaths of abuse, you protects you.

As in her previous books, there is the 1940’s WW2 influence and is unapologetic with the cruelty of the Holocaust and aims to educate in a time where distance and our modern life threatens to forget the atrocities of the past. Add an unruly ghost into the mix who forces you to face fear and you have a story that keeps you interested on every level. Simone’s ghosts are beautiful and tragic. They lull you into them gently, like an enticing candle flame, but then suddenly you realize that you got a bit too close and it’s too late, now your hair is on fire.

The setting is Vermont USA, close enough to the Canadian border to get me excited that there was some local flavour, which unfortunately was only mentioned in passing. With her flair for bringing history to life, I hope that I see more ‘Canadiana’ in her future work and that St. James can bring out the unique eerie distinction that the landscape of our old towns and cities contain.

Was this review helpful?

We continue in my quest to catch up with my NetGalley life, and again I find myself wondering how these books came into my knowledge. To be fair, I'd be willing to guess several of them are from the emails NetGalley sends out, saying "hey here's a book you might like" and I click to get it and promptly forget about the existence of books in general.

This is basically the story of my life. You may have noticed this by now.

But this one I tracked back down as a library book in one of my local places of book-finding (I'm tired; cut me some slack) and was perfectly content to try it on for size. And luckily, I found something worth reading.

That may not sound like a glowing endorsement, and maybe it's not. I had just finished reading an incredibly lackluster and confusing book, so my brain was already a little bit in shambles from that and THE BROKEN GIRLS does jump back and forth between time periods and characters, so at first I was a little nervous. I didn't have much reason to be, I found rather quickly. The author does a nice job of keeping it very obvious who is telling what story, and in what time frame. And while the overall plot is fairly predictable, every twist and turn isn't completely telegraphed three chapters in advance. There are just enough things to make you say "oooohhhh, okay" to outweigh the "well, obviously" moments.

Two stories running in parallel: the story of a group of girls trying to survive the horrors of the awful boarding school they're at, and the modern-day story of a woman obsessed with her sister's murder. The connecting point? Sister's body was dropped on the grounds of said now-abandoned boarding school. But wait, there's more. Some random person from not-locally (and in this small town, non-locals are The Outsider Who Will Not Be Tolerated) is going to rebuild this terrible school?? Something must stop this!

Fiona as our modern-day protagonist neatly walks the line between grief-stricken sister and completely obsessed unhinged person without ever being fully one or the other. Her romance subplot is...not unnecessary but feels a little forced, and he doesn't have much of a personality other than "being the foil to Fiona." The plot on her end of the timeline is interesting and doesn't necessarily take all the easy ways out, which was nice. That being said, there aren't that many surprises either.

The story following the girls of the past is an interesting look into what the world of 1950s boarding schools might have looked like, particularly for the type of castaway children who seem to inhabit Idlewild. There are some fascinating glimpses into moments in history, and while their drama may seem extreme, it's never unbelievable. There do seem to be one or two more of them than the story needed, but that may just be me. The book didn't seem quite long enough to give all of the girls their own needed personality and plot. Particularly when the plot narrows down to just a few of them. (Avoiding spoilers.)

The one outlier that I can't quite decide what I think about it is that there is a supernatural aspect to the core of the story, and it seems to waver between unnecessary and integral to the plot. That is, they make it entirely the focus of portions of the plot...but I don't know that the story needed it. I feel like it could have happened another way. That being said, I do rather like what they did, and it gave a spooky vibe that was able to carry through the entire book, and wrap it all together in a way that the other plot pieces couldn't on their own. So maybe it was necessary in the end. Like I said, I'm a little torn on how I feel about it.

All in all, it's a decent read. Relatively quick, and despite the dark themes it's not going to bog you down in distress. I don't know that I'd go out of my way to read it again, but if the author's name crossed my path again, I'd be willing to see what she had in store.

Rating: *** (Worth a Look)

Was this review helpful?