With a title like The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, the cover, and the synopsis, there was no way I wasn't going to read this new book by Julie Berry despite not always liking her previous titles. Well, I liked this one quite a lot. It is so much fun.
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.
This is the second MG book I've read this year involving a mystery over a short period of time in a house with many residents. I LOVE these sorts of books. If this is a new trend, I'm all on board. Keep them coming. All the members of the Scandalous Sisterhood are wonderful characters. They each have their own very distinct personality and voice. Berry wisely uses a descriptor before each of their names, but that becomes unnecessary after the first third of the book as they are not at all hard to tell apart. Their ringleader Kitty was my favorite, as I'm fairly sure she's meant to be, but all the girls are likeable in their own ways while also having enough flaws to make them human. There is a large cast of characters. In addition to the girls there is an entire town's worth of people from the minister to the doctor to the hired help to the old Admiral who is a neighbor to the mysterious young men in town with whom the girls must contend. With all these and two dead bodies, the girls are quite overwhelmed. One can see how they arrive at the decision to hide the murders, and at the same time, see how it could never possibly work. The book takes on a humorous tone because the reader gets to watch as the girls lose control and everything inevitably unravels.
The mystery is actually quite good. There were aspects of it that I figured out, but others took me completely by surprise. There is one glaring plot inconsistency that bothered me, but I'm willing to overlook due to how much fun the rest of the book was. It isn't always fast moving despite the dead bodies and the humor. There is a lot of sitting around and discussing what's to be done and who knows what. This is the sort of book that requires a patient reader who doesn't mind waiting for the pay-off. The humor is subtle but there are some truly hysterical scenes. I thoroughly enjoyed myself while reading it.
The age for this is definitely upper MG and would appeal to YA audiences too.
I read an e-galley provided by the publisher, Roaring Book Press, via NetGalley. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place has a release date of September 23rd.