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Publisher's Summary

The "clever and wonderfully chilling" (Fiona Barton) suspense novel from the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare....

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....

©2018 Simone St. James (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“[The Broken Girls] mixes a creepy supernatural tale with a gripping mystery. It also works well as a story about unshakeable friendship, parenting issues, obsession and sexism folded into a satisfying plot that straddles two eras of time.” (Associated Press)

“An intense, genuinely creepy novel that links the ghostly, gothic strands of a 60-year-old murder with secrets about to be unearthed in the present day.... With a ghostly setting and an addictive plot, St. James’ story is as haunting as it gets - poignant, evocative and difficult to forget.” (BookPage

The Broken Girls is equal parts captivating and disturbing.” (HelloGiggles)

What listeners say about The Broken Girls

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good plot but cardboard characters

The narrator is amazing. The plot, especially with the supernatural addition, was good. However, the characters are cringeworthy cliché. The motives of most of the characters are unclear because there’s no depth. Cops versus journalists sums up the whole good vs bad power struggle. The end seemed far- reached because the characters never had enough personality to have true motives for their actions. Don’t waste your credit. You will be disappointed.

28 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding in Every Way!

The Broken Girls is a superb ghost story, perhaps the best and most suspenseful of all Ms. St. James’ novels. Every character springs instantly to life and held my imagination and focus throughout. The settings are equally well drawn and vivid. This is just truly a wonderful listen, well performed. WARNING: Listener beware. I downloaded and started The Broken Girls late in the evening, and it was so compelling that I didn’t sleep a wink all night long! Thank you, Simone St. James. It was a long wait for this novel, but well worth every minute.

93 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Drama, Suspense, Intrigue and a Ghost

I just finished The Broken Girls after a marathon listen and am sorry to see it end. I am really impressed with this book and enjoyed it immensely. At first, I found it was a little hard to get into, but I pressed on and am so glad I did. After the first few chapters, I was completely drawn into the story, which alternates points of view between November 1950 and a group of friends at Idlewild Boarding School, a repository for troubled teenage girls in small-town Vermont; and November 2014, where Fiona Sheridan, a freelance journalist, has devastating connections to the now abandoned property, and begins an investigation into the past when a mysterious investor buys Idlewild with the goal to renovate and restore the school.
The stories of the girls as students were riveting and heartfelt. Fiona's character grew on me as she latched on doggedly to a crime long in the past that others wanted to forget, and wouldn't let go. Then, there are moments that are genuinely creepy and haunting that I will let the reader discover for themselves.
Overall, a fine novel with good narration, excellent characters and a propensity to grab you and not let go. Very enjoyable and I highly recommend!

102 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Definitely slow

I read the reviews and thought it still had possibility. The story took way to long to fill out the characters and get to anything riveting before I gave up on it.

The story had some interesting aspects. Don’t read this one for thrills and chills. Read it if you appreciate justice. At first I was determined to get a refund, now I will just call it a draw.

14 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Meh...

I struggled to get past the first chapter, it was confusing and at first I couldn’t stand the narrator. But after a while the ghost story sucked me in. The main character is kinda dumb I have to be honest, half the time I wanted to strangle her because of her stupidity. If this was an actual book I would have skipped most of her parts. She goes on and on about her sister, how her and her parents lives were destroyed, and the aftermath of her sister’s death. After the first explanation I got the hint that it was hard for you and your parents you don’t have to keep telling me. Then she goes into how attractive the ‘hero’ is SEVERAL times but not in any kind of significant detail she only describes physical attributes that she finds attractive nothing about who he is. Her relationship with the ‘hero’ was really confusing too and kind of killed a lot of the story for me. My favorite parts were from the past girls. I was more interested in the girls than what the main character was doing. Until the end and then the story kinda died for me at that point. I only listened till the end because I didn't have another audio book on my ipod and my phone was dead. I never did get used to the narrator every time she said Jamie, Barrens, and Deb I would cringe. Those words were CONSTANTLY repeated and for some reason the way she says them drives me nuts. I liked it because of the ghost story, I wouldn’t classify it as a romance as some other reviews have. I mainly read romance and tried this as ‘break’ I wasn't disappointed but I wouldn't call it a home run.

8 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Interesting premise, awful writing. Can't finish.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Fans of romance novels, maybe. The writing is too much about "his gorgeous mouth" and "his sleek muscles" for me.

Has The Broken Girls turned you off from other books in this genre?

Mysteries and thrillers are my favorite genre, so no.

How could the performance have been better?

The narrator delivers terrible, amateurish writing in a monotone. A couple of chapters in, I'm giving up.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Again, the premise seemed interesting, and the parts about the girls seeing the ghost at the old boarding school was intriguing, but not so much that I can continue.

76 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

It's Ok ... Not great

The supernatural piece of the story could have been completely left out. I have no idea why or how it was supposed to tie into the story.

The narrator is great, Rebecca's voice is soothing and animated. The story was ok. It's not my favorite , but it was worth the 10hours and helped ease my commute for a week.

This was my first Simone St. James book. I may give another book a try.

18 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, read my comments about complaints

I read a few bad reviews of this book and all most didn't listen. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes. I really liked this book. There is good character development. There is a good super natural aspect to it which adds some character and depth to the story as a whole and is an obvious but good metaphor. It is somewhere between The Haunting of Hill House and The Rules of Civility(? not sure about this one but for the historical aspect). Its not a fast paced book nor is it a page turning suspense novel (sometimes yes sometimes not so much).
Some complaints by others who have given negative reviews and my response:
1) "The characters are cringeworthy cliché.": No not really maybe a bit at the end but I liked the way the book wrapped up. Not perfect but IMHO hardly cringeworthy. The end of the novel felt a little rushed which is why some of the characters might feel a bit cliche at the end but its minor. For the most part the characters are well developed consistent and represent very real aspects of humanity.
2) "Fans of romance novels, maybe. The writing is too much about "his gorgeous mouth" and "his sleek muscles" for me.": This isn't a romance novel at all. Yes there are parts, very brief parts that use the above but they are short and very much not the focus of the novel. I find Nora Roberts books difficult to listen to because of the romance parts LOL, Why I occasionally listen to her books is a mystery to me. There is some other content to Nora Roberts but well anyway this is far far from a Nora Roberts novel.
Because of the above two complaints I nearly didn't listen to this book. Glad I read it anyway.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Meh.

The book was “meh.” at best. It never really seemed to pick up or have big plot twists.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Decent Story, But Quit Reading Because...

I'm a picky reader, and because I read so much, I may pick up on and be more annoyed by cliches and worn out tropes and devices than the casual reader. I decided a while back that it didn't matter how decent the story, I would stop reading any murder mystery in which an author used this one tactic, which is a MAJOR pet peeve of mine: the bad guy manages to trap the main character and gets a chance to explain themselves in some long, painfully unrealistic diatribe: why and how they did it, detail by agonizing detail. It's such a tired, worn out device in mystery stories; it is flat out lazy, and I can't believe that as many times as it has been used, writers still have not figured out that it's unrealistic and annoying. Almost NO ONE speaks the way authors voiced their villains in this scenario.

The bad guy always has the same tone, same attitude: smug disdain, defiant justification for their crimes, and overly obvious feigned regret for what they're about to have to do to the person they're spilling it all to. I've heard it so often that I know how it plays out the moment it begins. Let me know if this sounds familiar: Main character, close to the end of the story, is right on the edge of figuring out whodunnit. They manage to somehow trust the person who did it just before they have the epiphany that they are in the same room with the bad guy. So they say "It was you, all along" and the bad guy goes into his diatribe "I had to do it because...and here is how I did it...and this is why I did it this way...and this is what is up with"... (ties up every loose end the author was too lazy to tie up some other way or didn't give the reader enough credit to figure it out on their own with the information provided). And finally, "I would have managed to get away with it had it not been for your meddling, so as much as it pains me, I'm going to have to kill you now so you don't foil my whole dastardly plan."

I stopped reading at that point, so I don't know if it gave the hero/heroine the time they needed to figure out how to escape or to be rescued, but if this worn out device continued in the same pattern as they usually do, that's what happened next. The villain spilling their guts gives their intended victim just enough time to manage to escape somehow. Lazy, sloppy writing is what it is now. It reads like the end of a gosh dang Scooby Doo episode.

The story, up to that point, was tolerable, though not the 4 and 5 star writing that this book is rated -- not by a long shot. To be honest, I found myself tuning in and out, being drawn in and semi sympathetic to a character in some part to the point of almost caring what happened to them and why, but never really GOT THERE. My rule that I always stop a book when I discover the author is too lazy to wrap it up in a fresh way has, once in a while, been difficult to follow, because I at least sorta cared what happened to the characters. Not so much this time. In short, I've stopped reading much more well written stories before they end.

53 people found this helpful