Publication date: January 1, 2015
Genres: Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: Provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
An outrageous plot of villainy starring seven brilliant young girls.
At Prickwillow Place, Disgraceful Mary Jane, Smooth Kitty and their fellow students are keeping a deadly secret.
When the headmistress of St Etheldreda's School for Young Ladies drops dead at Sunday dinner, her seven pupils agree on a clever scheme: to bury their teacher in the vegetable garden, dress up Stout Alice in her place, and educate themselves. This is tricky enough in a small Victorian community, but when the girls deduce that their teacher was poisoned - (it was the veal!) - they realise there is also a murderer on the prowl . . .
Middle grade is not usually my thing and I definitely don't request books in that genre since I'm disappointed in the majority of them. That said I could not not say yes to this book since I fell in love with the cover and the synopsis. Someone, on goodreads, said that it was like cluedo or clue - and even though I've never played the game it made me want to read it.
I'd really hoped that there'd be more illustrations inside the book but there's only a directory where you see who is who of the girls and the chapter headings.
We have 7 protagonists; all featured on the cover - which I like. In the beginning I had a hard time following 7 characters but Julie Berry has done a remarkable job of creating a different personality for each of the girls. Every single one of those girls had quirks and I found that I really liked all of them because of said quirks. I really enjoyed the close relationship between the girls, how they see themselves as a 'sisterhood' - which is why they keep the murders secret, so they can stay together.
The storyline didn't really grab me though, I couldn't keep my focus and I put it down a couple of times because I found it boring. I really wanted the storyline to surprise me but I wasn't really that impressed. Something that genuinely surprised me was who the murderer was - I had no idea who it was! So that's quite clever thinking Julie Berry!
I probably enjoyed the last 70-50 pages more than the rest of the book. Everything came together and I had no intentions of putting it down - I wanted to see how every little piece fit together. It's also near the end that there's a bit of romance. I wish there was more romance through out the book, it doesn't have to be overpowering but it would have been nice.
The ending satisfied me though, and it probably notched it up a star.