I didn't read very much of my November TBR. I was in a slump and just read whatever I wanted to keep myself moving. I did read 4 books....or was it 5? I can't remember. Anyway....
This month I will mostly dedicate myself to my Book of the Month pile, with the exception of Children of Blood and Bone which I am so excited to get to. I am waiting on an audiobook of Spinning Silver to drop from Libby. And there are more BOM books than I have listed here, but they aren't coming up in the BL database. The Lies We Told, The Air You Breathe, and Small Country. I'm hoping to make a big final push this year like I did last December. We shall see.
Also, yesterday was my birthday! I got a bread maker. And some money from my dad so I ordered a 23andme kit to finally put my ancestry to rest. Plus I preordered Soul of the Dragon which we Power Ranger fans call Old Man Tommy. Then I took my son to our neighborhood diner for Catfish Friday. And I got myself a birthday cake.
Anyway, on to the holidays!
The Broken Girls is a book that straddles two timelines. Usually books like this leave me confused at least a time or two but not this one. They’ll often leave me frustrated too because I typically find one timeline far more interesting than the other but that didn’t happen this time around either. I think what it all breaks down to is the characters. Too many murder mystery thrillers focus on the murders and the police procedural aspects and all the dynamics that go along with that and though this book has some of that stuff it wasn’t the main focus so I never drifted away. The main focus is on the characters and their emotional ties either to each other or to getting to the truth at whatever cost for deeply personal reasons. I read for character, for the most part, so that’s why I dug this story. If you’re that type of reader I think you might like it a lot too.
There is a lot of stuff going on here and none of it is boring. There wasn’t a single moment when I felt the need to drift away or long to pick up something else. There’s a murder or two or maybe more. . . I’m not saying. Some murder takes place in the past, one in the not too distant past and the ramifications are a big source of motivation for the modern day character. My favorite part of this story was the friendship that was so skillfully and carefully developed between a group of misfits and misbehaving girls in the 1950’s who are carted off to Idlewild Hall and are mostly forgotten by their families. Their friendship and the terrible thing that happens (and no I am NOT telling you what it is) had me glued to the book. These girls and their day to day troubles came to life. But besides being a house for wayward girls, Idlewild Hall may also be inhabited by a ghost or two!
I loved all of it and I am so afraid of spoiling anything that I’m not going to say anything else. Instead I will leave you with this bookwormy quote that made me forever a fan of Sonia.
“Sonia envied her, the way she could turn her brain off, think about absolutely nothing. It was a trick Sonia herself had never learned. That was what books did - they turned off your thinking for you, put their thoughts in your head so you wouldn't have your own.”
Simone St James has a lot of wheels turning in 'The Broken Girls', her sixth novel. Idlewild Hall in the present day is a third rate boarding school that closed decades ago. Fiona, whose sister was found dead on its grounds, is driven to investigate why it may be reopened and face her own doubts as to the guilt of the man who was convicted of her sister's murder. The novel weaves in and out of the past to explore the bond between four girls in the post WWII era and the tragedy that strikes one of them. Through all of this there is the legend of Mary Hand, whose spirit is said to haunt the school and infects the lives of those who hear her.
This was a chilling, suspenseful novel that makes the most of its setting and characters. St James balances her cast of characters in two timelines and makes the most of her setting. I liked how the supernatural touches didn't take over the plot of the novel.
After I fell in love with The Haunting of Maddy Clare several years ago, I read all of St. James books. I just love her stories and I was really excited and so looking forward to this!
Which is why it really pains me to say The Broken Girls just didn't do very much for me. Maybe my expectations were just too high, but it really felt like the plot, the suspense and the paranormal/haunting aspect, were all toned down; very mild and mediocre in comparison to her other books.
I'll always be a fan but I hope she ups the ante with her next book.