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ARC Review – The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry

18885674Title: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

Author: Julie Berry

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: 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.

Huge thank you to Roaring Brook Press and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I enjoyed The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, but unfortunately not as much as I thought I would. There is a crazy amount going on in this book all at once, with so many characters to follow, that for a middle grade novel, I found it surprisingly overwhelming at times to read. The positives to this book are that it sends a strong message of friendship, girls communicating with one another without aggression or jealousy, and that being sassy has its perks.

The negatives, however? Well, I admit, the writing style in this book irked me a great deal. It’s very dry, often lacking the same kind of punch the characters actual have. I often found it overly descriptive, yet because there’s so many characters, it’s really hard to get to know them without remembering that each girl has a “character trait” attached to her name and it’s a core part of who she is, but I needed more to attach myself to them, and I just struggled a lot of the time because the writing and I just didn’t get along. The overly Victorian style just didn’t work for me — the writing just felt so stilted and samey.

However, this book is immensely creative, quirky and I feel like it does have a lot to offer. The mystery elements in the story are really well done, very humourous, and it definitely keeps you asking questions throughout. However, getting tot he end of the story and realizing what everything was? I’m not sure whether it was genius or just awkward.

I wish I hadn’t had such a hard time reading this book because I feel like the premise itself is wonderful but the execution was just lacking for me. This was really a case of ‘its not you, its me’ and I wish it wasn’t that way because I feel like it had everything going to be a favourite middle grade pick for the year, and my expectations just fell too short of what I actual got. It’s not a horrible book by any means, in fact, with the right reader who appreciates Victorian style storytelling will likely appreciate this more than I did. There’s certainly a likeable story here.

Though I will admit, that cover is amazing.