The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place
Genre: Historical, Middle-Grade, Mystery
Publication date: September 23rd 2014
by Roaring Book Press
There's a murderer on the loose—but that doesn't stop the girls of St. Etheldreda's from attempting to hide the death of their headmistress in this rollicking farce.
The students of St. Etheldreda's School for Girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home—unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong.
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a smart, hilarious Victorian romp, full of outrageous plot twists, mistaken identities, and mysterious happenings.
-A copy was provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for review-
Super cute! The plot is more-or-less a game of clue, but more MG-like, with a large cast of funny, resourceful, and charismatic young girls.
Much like its cover, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is intriguing and fun with a touch of humour. We begin by being introduced to the girls with the help of some illustrations and a quick look into why they were sent to St. Etheldreda’s School for Girls. I had the ARC so the illustrations were sadly missing, but the cover accomplished the same and it was fun to have a visual to go with all these great personalities. Then shortly after, we have the death of the headmistress and her brother, leaving the girls to solve a mystery while trying to hide the events from the townsfolk – which proves to be quite the challenge in such a small town full of nosy neighbours and visitors.
While the plot is not especially hard to predict, the characters are what makes this entertaining. The girls range from tween to early teen, giving us an MG novel that is still a great read for adults. Plus, the novel is set in a time where kids that age seemed much older, married much younger, and had to be a lot more independent at a young age. So while they’re very young, they’re intelligent and capable, free of the usual angst and dramatics you might have expected otherwise. And do they ever have personality! I loved how quirky every girl is. They all bring something to this story: some with know-how that end up being very useful, others with rational thinking and social abilities to deal with the many dilemmas encountered. In addition, most of them have a sense of humour that proves to be the perfect touch to keep this novel from getting even a hint of a dark tone. The vibe is kept light-hearted and overall amusing throughout. Even adding in a sprinkle of romance now and again. The downside to having 7 girls as main characters, however, is that you’re unlikely to find yourself connecting with them on a personal level – just keeping track of everyone can be a challenge – but it’s not meant to be a deep, emotionally charged story at all so this doesn’t become a major issue.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the historical setting which is built to perfection. The atmosphere Julie creates is excellent; the descriptions of the girls, the dialogue, and especially the dynamics of the town truly breathes historical life into this novel.
An adventure full of character and charm, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is as much about the mystery itself as it is about the friendship between these young girls. Nothing forms a tighter bond than covering up a murder together!