Broken Girls by Simone St. James
An eerie suspenseful novel that presents a splendid thriller with a tinge of paranormal shade.
The story alternates between two timelines. 1954 and 2014.
The 1954 story is set in Idlewild hall, a boarding school for troubled girls (Its either for the girls who didn’t have any family or they are unwanted by their family). It features Katie, Cece, Roberta and Sonia, who are roommates at Idlewild Hall. They are all damaged and hurt in their own way. Over time, they bond over their troubled life stories. They become friends and they depend on each other.
And then there is Mary Hand:
“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!”
Mary Hand is something of a legend among generations of Idlewild girls. She wears a black Veil and haunts the Idlewild grounds. Many have claimed seen her and some have heard her speak. During their stay at Idlewild hall, all four of the girl’s experience Mary Hand one way or the other. When one of them goes missing, is it the work of the Mary Hand?
The 2014 story tells us the story of a journalist named Fiona Sheridan. She is the daughter of the famous journalist of the town Malcom Sheridan. Twenty years ago, her sister Deb Sheridan was murdered and dumped in the field of Idlewild Hall (which is now abandoned). Tim Christopher, Deb’s boyfriend at that time was found guilty and charged for the murder. Even after 20 years, Fiona thinks something is missing regarding her sister’s case. She often visits Old Barren Road (where Idlewild hall is located) at night and tries to find out what’s driving her instinct.
When she finds out that Idlewild hall is about to be restored and converted into a boarding school again, Fiona is intrigued and decides to write an article about it.
As she starts digging, more dirty secrets unravel.
I absolutely loved the novel. Right from the prologue, the story kept me on hook. Usually when the narration moves between alternate timelines, it slows down the pace of the novel. Simone St. James has crafted it so skillfully that you never feel the story slowing down even when the narration shifts. At the end, when both the timelines merge into one, its seamless as it can be.
This is definitely a character driven novel. Its certain that the author has done her work in crafting each and every character in the book. I loved Fiona. She is flawed but very intelligent and stubborn. I don’t know if she will ever show up on another novel. But I will love to see her again. I am looking forward to read more from the author.
Thanks to Berkley Publishing Group and Netgalley for the ARC.
If Paranormal thriller is your thing, Pick this up !!