Publication March 20, 2018 By Berkley
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.
The beginning of this story completely pulled me in…a young girl, alone, on a dark road road near woods…when all of sudden she’s no longer alone! What an atmospheric, dramatic start to a story that was just outright creepy in parts. As stated in the blurb, the novel alternates between the girl’s boarding school in 1950 and Fiona’s life in 2014. Fiona actually has ties to the school as her sister was murdered in the field surrounding the school. The question that has taken over Fiona’s life is: what really happened to her sister on the night she was murdered all those years ago? There were no witnesses, no footprints, no evidence at the scene, yet her boyfriend was tried and convicted…did he really kill her or was there a more sinister force behind her death?
Then we have the storyline from 1950 and the four roommates who became best friends until one of them vanishes. For the first half of the book, I was slightly more interested in this storyline as the boarding school was just plain creepy and I really liked the girls; I felt bad for each of them. The author did a fantastic job of creating an atmosphere of gloom, dread, and eeriness. I felt worried for the girls. I was actually much more invested in the girls’ story than I was Fiona’s, mainly because I found Fiona hard to like or relate to. Things seemed to fall into place a little too easily for her.
I found the first half of the book to be much faster paced than the second half. I’m not sure exactly how or why my reading shifted but it did and I found myself skimming scenes along with losing my ability to “believe” the ghost story. For me, a little ghost goes a long way and in the second half the ghost story became a bit over the top for me. I was surprised by the resolution to the girls’ story from 1950, much more so than Fiona’s which was resolved way too easily and predictably in my opinion. Overall, this was a stronger first half story for me. If you enjoy atmospheric ghost stories with alternating timelines and subtle mysteries then definitely give this a try.
Many thanks to Berkley via Netgalley for my copy