cover image The Broken Girls

The Broken Girls

Simone St. James. Berkley, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-451-47620-3

St. James (Lost Among the Living) graduates to hardcover with this creepy supernatural thriller set in small-town Vermont. In 2014, journalist Fiona Sheridan’s interest in finding out the truth about her sister’s murder—which occurred 20 years earlier near Idlewild Hall, an abandoned girls’ boarding school—is revived by the news that the property is being restored by a mysterious out-of-towner. Fiona’s boyfriend and the police in his family, however, don’t want her digging too deep. Flashback to 1950, when four roommates at Idlewild build deep friendships while dealing with the sinister presence of Mary Hand, a veiled ghost whom generations of students claim haunts the garden where her dead baby is buried. Mary is a pervasive but subtle influence who makes everyone in both eras feel “so horribly afraid.” All the characters must also cope with human-produced horrors such as torture and neglect. The two story lines converge on a satisfyingly settled if unhappy ending. Readers will want to see more in this vein from St. James. Agent: Pam Hopkins, Hopkins Literary Associates. (Mar.)