Seal of Excellence: March 2018
Each month the RT editors select one book that is not only compelling, but pushes the boundaries of genre fiction. This book stands out from all the others reviewed that month. March 2018's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Simone St. James's The Broken Girls.
It's no secret that RT has been fans of Simone St. James' previous works, and The Broken Girls is no exception. The different threads that weave through this book to create a cohesive and spellbinding story is incredible; part coming-of-age, part investigative journalism mystery, and part ghost story, The Broken Girls has it all. Journalist Fiona Sheridan is on the case to truly figure out what happened on the night of her sister's murder, and finds herself in the midst of a story contained in the haunted walls of Idlewild Hall, an abandoned boarding school for troubled girls. Discovering the tales of four roommates from 1950, and the ghost of Mary Hand that terrorized them, leads Fiona on the path to find the truth in the most unexpected and interesting ways. The characterization was well developed and tangible, the strong personalities of each woman contributing to the story making it feel all the more real, as though I could go to Vermont and find these people in the town surrounding Idlewild Hall. I was on the edge of my seat this entire book, each new circumstance driving up the tension and horror until finally, it reached a more than satisfying ending that stuck with me days after finishing the novel. — Alyssa Duspiva
Haunting and at times terrifying, this gothic read from Simone St. James is best read with all the lights on! The suspense thread of two unsolved murders, decades apart, connected by a mysterious boarding school for girls is expertly plotted and the dual times are flawlessly executed. Even more so, the alternating perspectives in the 1950s reality add to the blanket of tension that stays high from start to finish. From terror-inducing Mary Hand to each of the four Idlewild Hall roommates, the 1950 timeline is the stuff of campfire ghost stories. The way St. James seamlessly integrates the past and present plot threads allows the story to flow naturally while maintaining the suspenseful aura of the narrative. Fiona Sheridan is compelling as a journalist who is driven to learn the truth behind her sister’s murder, and her own experiences at Idlewild will leave you on the edge of your seat. — Carrie Townsend
Read an interview with Simone St. James!
And the other nominees are …
What would you do after receiving a slew of emails that insist you're of royal blood? From our distrust of scammers infiltrating our inboxes to the pitfalls of submitting one’s DNA to a genetic database, Alyssa Cole does a fantastic job of weaving timely topics into her storyline. We’re all plagued with spam mail on the daily, so Ledi’s skeptical response is understandable — who among us would buy into emails promising to prove your royal status in exchange for a valid form of government ID? For most people, becoming a victim of identity theft is far more likely than discovering we’re of noble birth … except there’s a great deal that Ledi doesn’t know about her life before she entered the American foster care system.
Then there is Prince Thabiso. Though his omission of truth is quite the obstacle for the couple to overcome, he earned a special place in my heart when he shared that he secretly read his mother’s romance novels as a teen. I like to think that early exposure to HEAs fueled Thabiso’s determination to find his betrothed, which is pretty awesome. But A Princess in Theory involves more than Ledi and Thabiso’s beautiful budding romance — readers also join Ledi on a journey to reconnect with her family and discover her roots. Add to that a mysterious epidemic and a touch of treason and you’ve got a true page-turner! — Kristin Stec
Read an excerpt here!
Fans love Anne Bishop’s Others series, and Lake Silence is an addition to the canon that will take readers on a brand new adventure! This entry isn’t a sequel to her Others series, but takes place in the same universe as a standalone that longtime fans and new readers will equally enjoy. Our heroine Vicki DeVine feels too real and readers will identify with her personal struggles, and Bishop doesn’t stray away from confronting serious issues like domestic abuse. A hilarious cast of characters (like Crowgard Aggie), despicable villains and the mysterious Elders will keep readers on their toes — trust me, you want to make Lake Silence your new vacation spot! by Anne Bishop — Emily Walton
Read our interview with Anne about Lake Silence here!
I love Marisa de los Santos's books, and I was so excited to read I'll Be Your Blue Sky, which features characters from Belong to Me. Not only is it delightful to read about a grown up Dev and and Clare, but the book takes a surprising turn haflway through that enriches the plot. You'll be surprised, intrigued and you won't put it down until the end, which is a twisty, soapy surprise. — Elissa Petruzzi
Congratulations to the winner and all of the nominees! You can also find all of our Seal of Excellence winners here.
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