Rummanah Aasi
 While I struck out with my last read, I thoroughly enjoyed Julie Berry's The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place a tongue in cheek Victorian boarding school mystery. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an advanced readers copy of the book.

Description: 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. 

Review: An immensely entertaining, smart, and frothy in the best possible way, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a lot like Clue only it's set in a Victorian boarding school where seven young women find themselves free from adult supervision when their judgmental, penny-pinching headmistress and her odious brother die suddenly during dinner. Rather than alert the authorities and risk having the school shut down and all the students sent to unwelcoming home, the girls decide to keep things under wraps and proceed as if the late headmistress and her brother were still alive. The girls bond together to bury the bodies in the garden while dodging questions from their noisy neighbors, potential suitors, a suspicious housekeeper, and a host of charmingly annoying villagers with a penchant for showing up at the worst possible moment. While juggling mounting debts and increasingly precarious fabrications in order to keep up their charade, the students also try to discover who poisoned the deceased and what was the murderer's motive.
 Berry's prose is very much like the classic Victorian detective novels. Though there are a lot of girls to keep track of in this story, all of them are identified largely by an adjective that precede their name such as Disgraceful Mary Jane or Dour Elinor. I liked how these names are used ironically, rather than highlighting a weakness it it often comes across as a girl's strength. The girls avoid the stereotypical cliques or cat fight and work together as a team. The pacing slows a bit in the middle of the book, but I continued reading because I wanted to see how the girls solved the mystery and avoid obstacles thrown in their way.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for strong Grade 5 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Murder Most Unlady Like by Robin Stevens, Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
7 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Well this sounds like fun Rummanah! Glad you had a winner after yesterday's rather disappointing read. I'm so happy that despite this book featuring a large group of girls, there's no cattiness and they all work together well. That's always nice to see:)

  2. Oh this sounds awesome. I love the whole Clue premise. I will have to check this one out with Risa.

  3. Oh I like the sound of this one especially how the names are used. I so need to check this one out. I have some one in mind that would love this one!

  4. I'm finding this one a little bit slow Rummanah. I haven't quite gotten into it yet. I'll give it another go since you like it so much. I do like the tongue in cheek. Maybe a little more of the headmistress and her brother at the beginning so I really didn't like them when they died might have helped. Very dry British humor! Great review!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Ooh Clue in a Victorian era? Sounds awesome! I have a review copy of this and now I'm even more excited to get to it. Lovely review!

  6. Susan Says:

    I really liked Berry's first book, ALL THE TRUTH THAT'S IN ME. This one sounds completely different, but also awesome. Can't wait to read it!

  7. This sounds like a fun mystery, and I like that the girls work together instead of cat fighting. I'll check this one out when I get a chance, Rummanah!

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