Author: Julie Berry
Published by: Piccadilly Press on 1st January 2015
Genres: Middle-Grade, Mystery, Historical
Source: Hot Key Books, Piccadilly Press
Links: Goodreads | Wordery | Hive | B&N
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 a 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...
What a whopper of a tale!
Now I don't read many Middle-Grade fiction novels, in fact I would even say that I hardly read them at all! Mostly due to the fact I find it difficult to relate to such young characters, but really it depends on the story. But with such a huge buzz surrounding this book throughout the blogosphere and my Twitter timeline, I honestly couldn't pass up the chance to read it! And I was not disappointed!
What's the best way to start off a mystery novel? - With a murder of course! Headmistress of St Etheldreda's School for Young Ladies suddenly drops dead alongside her brother at a normal Sunday dinner. Someone was fiendish enough to put poison into the veal they had been eating. So where does that leave her students? The seven enigmatic young ladies with no headmistress to lead and teach them? In an effort not to be sent home and now with a chance of freedom within their grasp, the seven students team up and come up with a scandalous plan - burying their headmistress and her brother in the garden, dressing up Alice to act in their headmistress's place and fooling everyone into believing nothing was wrong.
This was such a brilliant idea, executed extremely well. With the historical time period, the writing style suits to that of the time period, each character speaking with elegance yet with a hint of sarcastic wit. I found it equally enjoyable to read and difficult to get used to.
Out of the seven students, I think Smooth Kitty was my favourite, reason being that she was the quick-thinker and took lead during the situation. She was the one most afraid of being sent home and separated from her dear friends and confidently managed to pull of their scandalous scheme for an impressive amount of time! But truly, all the characters were amazing. Their friendship is by all means one of the best I've read about and I loved how they banded together and despite being suspicious of each other, it didn't stop them working together to find the real culprit! Being so young and to pull of such a tricky heist takes a lot of courage too!
The mystery aspect was very interesting seeing as I had absolutely no idea who poisoned the veal, not even a sneaking suspicion. The plot truly does build up with tense moments that make you cover your eyes with your hands when you feel like something is about to go wrong. There were a lot of those moments! It's incredibly gripping with an obvious sense of thrill lingering in the background. It wasn't until about halfway I had suspected a certain someone but even then, events kept swaying my choice and forcing me to reconsider! That's what every mystery should aspire to do!
The Scandalous Sisterhood truly sparked my interest in Middle-Grade fiction and with no doubt I will be picking up a lot more in the future. It was such a fantastic read with funny, charismatic characters who were all unique and made the book that much more enjoyable to devour. Books like this are perfect to break you out of horrid reading slumps! (Also that cover! I'm in love with it!)