Author: Julie Berry
Publication: Roaring Brook Press (September 23, 2014)
Description: 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.
Julie Berry's The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a smart, hilarious Victorian romp, full of outrageous plot twists, mistaken identities, and mysterious happenings.
My Thoughts: If the reader is looking for melodrama and Victorian high-jinks, this is the perfect story. The seven young women sent to St. Etheldreda's School for Girls are faced with a major problem when the school's headmistress and her disreputable brother die suddenly at Sunday dinner. Rather than reporting the deaths, the girls decide to bury them in the garden and keep the deaths quiet. This leads to all sorts of unforeseen consequences including what to do when guests assemble for a surprise birthday party for the brother.
They begin and investigation when they learn that the two died of poison. There are all sorts of suspects ranging from the maid to an assortment of strangers who are suddenly paying attention to the girls. The girls have an interesting variety of character traits and names. Smooth Kitty is the ringleader and the daughter of a successful businessman who doesn't pay attention to her. Pocked Louise is the youngest and a keen scientist who takes charge of the investigation. Then there is Stout Alice who is quite an actress and who successfully impersonates the headmistress when the girls can't make excuses for her absence.
The story has all sorts of over-the-top elements - murderers, lost wills, hidden wealth, romance - all in a Victorian setting. Fans of Lemony Snicket who are a bit older now will be the best audience for this romp.
They finished wedging the bodies into a position that seemed likely to stay below ground at last, then they dumped an avalanche of manure over the shrouded bodies. Dear Roberta gagged into her handkerchief but Dull Martha didn't seem to mind. "It smells wholesome," she said. "Like ponies."I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.