Review: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place
Julie Berry

Roaring Brook
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher.
Released September 23, 2014
368 pages
YA / Mystery / Silly

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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.

This book is silly. It is super silly in all the best ways. I didn’t expect to have nearly as much fun reading about the shenanigans of teenage girls that find themselves on their own after their school mistress and her cad of a brother suddenly drops dead during Sunday dinner. Instead of freaking out and calling the police, these intrepid Victorian ladies decide to maintain their freedom and cover up the deaths. The only problem is that the more they try to cover things up, the more people stop by their boarding school and madness ensues.

This is very much a comedy of errors with one thing going wrong after another as Kitty and her school sisters try to take care of themselves while maintaining the illusion that Headmistress Plackett is still being her grumpy overbearing self. I found it fascinating to see how quickly the girls thought on their feet as they were faced with one unexpected surprise after another. Anything that could go wrong did. Meanwhile the girls tried to discover who poisoned their headmistress and maintain a staunch cover up story.

It took a little bit to get used to Julie Berry’s madcap writing style. This book starts and doesn’t slows until the final pages. Each of the girls at St. Etheldreda’s has a cutesy nickname that is constantly being repeated that gives you a little insight into their personality – Smooth Kitty is cool under pressure and a born leader while Disgraceful Mary Jane delights in acting inappropriately with every young man that crosses her path. Each girl grows to become more than their cutesy adjective, but it’s a quick shorthand to tell them apart at the beginning.

Once I got use to the stylistic choices, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place was a delightful romp of silliness that left me smiling from start to finish. These girls are delightful in their good-hearted madness and the ridiculous situations they find themselves are filled with humor. This was a great read for a couple of cold gloomy nights that left me happy and looking forward to what else Julie Berry has in her crazy head.