By: Simone St. James
Published Year: 2018
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion.
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): 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 cover of this book is kind of meh. I definitely wouldn’t pick it up based on the cover alone. The summary was more intriguing. I was fascinated by the history of an all girls school intertwining with present day. I also enjoyed St. James’ previous book, so I was curious about this one.
What I thought
This book took me a little while to get into, but once I got started it was fascinating.
Fiona is a journalist in present day. Her sister was murdered 20 years ago and her body was found on the land of Idlewild, the school for troubled girls. When Fiona finds out that the school is being restored, she jumps on the chance to write a story about it in hopes that she will find out more about her sister’s murder. This story is alternated with rotating points of view of four students of Idlewild in the early 1950s. These chapters give insight into the everyday lives at Idlewild and the past of how one of the girl’s lives ends forever. Similar to St. James’ previous novel, there is a supernatural/ghost element.
The reason I mention the ghost element is because I was taken aback by that side of the story in her previous novel. Going into this one I expected it, so I was able to handle it a bit better. I didn’t mind it in this story thought. It definitely was a part of the storyline, but it could just as easily have not been there. It was more of a bonus than a part that truly held the story together, so I was ok with it.
As I expected, my favorite parts of the story were the flashbacks to the girls’ lives at Idlewild. I like to read about experiences that are dissimilar from my own and the boarding school for troubled girls was fascinating. Add the fact that it was haunted, and I kept waiting for something to happen so I looked forward to the flashbacks.
Fiona’s story was interesting as well, but moved a bit slowly. She starts with investigating the spot where here sister was murdered. Even though a murderer was convicted and has been sitting in jail for 20 years, Fiona isn’t sure he’s the one who did it. She feels like some part is missing and it has been bothering her for 20 years. When she starts researching Idlewild, she discovers a lot more than she expected.
Like I said, it moves a bit slowly. There were parts that were meant to be twists that I was able to figure out, but there were some parts I didn’t expect. I wouldn’t classify this as a mystery per-say, but there were some mysterious elements to it.