The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
Genre – Coming-of-age, Mystery, England
Series – No
Rating – PG for discussions about death, poison, and murder
Age Range – Middle-grade or YA
The 7 girls who attend St. Etheldreda’s School for Young Ladies have been sent there to become proper young ladies. During their Sunday night supper with their headmistress Constance Plackett and her brother Mr. Godding, a queer thing takes place. Both Mrs. Plackett and Mr. Godding suddenly collapse and die at the table. So Smooth Kitty, the ringleader of the girls, hatches a plan to cover up their mysterious deaths and continue living at the school. Things begin to go awry when people begin visiting the school to celebrate Mr. Godding’s birthday. What will they do? Will the girls cave in and be forced to tell the truth? Who is the murderer behind all this?
My Thoughts –
What a fun & charming book!! Going into the book, I knew nothing about the plot and so was pleasantly surprised. It had been on my list, but I’d forgotten what led me to put it on there. I loved seeing the girls band together to try to solve the murders as well as keep the authorities at bay. Also, loved the setting – England 1890. What a fun time frame!
Each of the young ladies has a different skill set and personality. Most of the book is told from Kitty’s perspective. Personally, I liked Pocked Louise and Stout Alice much better! Seeing Stout Alice impersonate Mrs. Plackett was hilarious and I’m surprised they pulled it off for so long. 🙂 Of the girls, Kitty was my least favorite. While she was good at coming up with plans, I didn’t care for how high and mighty she could be at times.
The author does a great job keeping this light and humorous, despite being a murder mystery. They are constantly coming up with stories trying to cover up the bodies they buried under a cherry tree. My descriptions make it sound worse then it is. All in all I found myself chuckling at all their antics. Berry also adds a few twists near the end that left me guessing to figure out who was the culprit.
Now there is a bit of feminism thrown in the story, which was a bit off putting.
“The rosy sunset made even the mud of Farmer Butt’s vast acres of meadow land blaze with heavenly glory as far as the eye could see” (p. 12).
“She who opposed my scientific interests so strenuously is now the subject of my experiment” (p. 112).
“How is it possible to forget a present? Kitty made a face at her. If you recall, we had cooling corpses on our minds at the time.” (p. 124).
Language – None
Violence – Both Mrs. Plackett and Mr. Godding are poisoned by cyanide. Then the culprit tries to murder the pretend Mrs. Plackett with cyanide again and instead kills Admiral Lockwood by mistake. Also, the murder sneaks in, poisons the dog and steals some of the the girls belongings.
Innuendo – None
If you are in the mood for a light easy read, this is good choice. I know its MG, but as an adult I enjoyed it quite a bit. I have found that many MG authors write wonderful and intriguing books often better then some YA or adult books out there. Also, they tend to be fairly clean. Berry does a great job creating a fun mystery that is engaging and keeps you interested in the characters.
Up next – I’m finishing up Beowolf. I had listened to a podcast that told the outline to the story and made me curious to read it myself. So far halfway through and liking it. After that I’m not sure.
How is your May going? What have you been reading? Do you enjoy Middle-Grade fiction?