THE BROKEN GIRLS by Simone St. James {Review}

Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★

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…

THE BROKEN GIRLS was an amazing book, combining many elements I love: mystery, ghost story, historical fiction, dual time periods, and crime drama. I loved it – yes, it was dark and unsettling, but I was glued to the pages.

The story alternates between the early 1950s and 2014 in a tiny Vermont town. In the past, four teenage girls attend a local boarding school for troubled girls called Idlewild Hall when one goes missing; in the present, a journalist named Fiona investigates the death of her sister whose body was found on Idlewild’s abandoned property two decades earlier. Fiona agrees to write an article on the restoration of Idlewild when it’s purchased by a mysterious buyer. During renovations, a shocking discovery pulls Fiona into the unsolved case of the missing girl. Will it also lead her to answers about her own sister’s death?

This was an atmospheric and creepy read, with some definite chilling moments. Like many Gothic novels, the house, Idlewild, was a haunted, complex character itself, and the tale of its resident ghost was heartbreaking. The mystery was complicated, and I enjoyed how the well-researched historical elements were woven into it. I love Simone St. James’ storytelling, and I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes a spooky story full of emotion and depth.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THE WIDOW’S HOUSE by Carol Goodman

Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★★★

This chilling novel from the bestselling, award-winning author of The Lake of Dead Languages blends the gothic allure of Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca and the crazed undertones of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper with the twisty, contemporary edge of A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife—a harrowing tale of psychological suspense set in New York’s Hudson Valley.

When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess’s writing career.

They take a caretaker’s job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. It’s been years, now, since his first novel. The advance has long been spent. Clare’s hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer some inspiration.

But their new life isn’t all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night, see strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next…

I enjoyed this Modern Gothic from Carol Goodman. It’s creepy and twisty, and it keeps you guessing as to what’s really going on.

The main characters are Jess and Clare Martin, who met in an “invitation only” writing class in college. Jess had one novel published in his early twenties, but that was years ago, and now they’re broke. The couple ends up back in their small college town as caretakers of their old writing professor’s crumbling estate. It seems like the perfect place to rekindle Jess’ writing career – possibly Clare’s too – but the house has a dark history, and its ghosts don’t want to keep quiet.

I liked the eerie atmosphere and uneasy feeling the story conveyed, and the mystery of the house’s tragic past was intriguing. Loved how it all wrapped up in the end! I was quite surprised at the outcome. I’m glad I spotted this one at the library and will definitely add Carol Goodman’s other books to my wishlist.


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 23, 2011
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

When young Eddie is falsely accused of destroying the Judge’s chicken coop, his adopted parents give him two days to find the true culprit. Guided by logic, but entranced by the poetry of the paranormal, Eddie seeks to solve the mystery, along the way meeting Captain Mephisto, a darkly unusual magician. With help from his Raven and the prodding of a mischievous imp, McCobber, it is no wonder that Eddie grows up to become a master of the macabre.

Scott Gustafson crafts a finely wrought portrait that is both humorous and touching. Coupled with his stunning gothic illustrations, EDDIE is sure to win fans young and old.

My son got this book for Christmas, but I had to read it first – because Poe! EDDIE is a mystery geared toward middle grade readers, and it gives a glimpse into what Edgar Allan Poe’s childhood might have been like, and how experiences in his youth influenced the stories and poems he wrote as an adult.

How did a neighbor’s prize rooster and a cat end up inside Eddie’s pillow case, and stuck on the roof? Eddie’s harsh stepfather Mr. Allan only gives him a day to prove his innocence. With the help of his pet raven and a mischievous imp, Eddie sets out to solve the mystery.

This book is a good introduction to Poe for young readers. The author Scott Gustafson also illustrated the book, and the detailed drawings are amazing. IMO, nothing too scary. A fun, quick read, worthy of the keeper shelf.