A Murderous Victorian Lark

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, by Julie Berry, (Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group), 368 pages

If you’re looking for a romp of a book, either for yourself or for gift-giving, I highly recommend Julie Berry’s The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place. Ostensibly this is a young-adult novel, but it’s also plenty of fun for adult-adult readers.

Set in Victorian England in the town of Ely, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place features an engaging group of seven core characters, all boarding students at a small girls’ finishing school. When the director of the school dies, along with her brother, the girls decide to bury their bodies in secret so that they can continue living with one another and can take control of their own lives.

Watching the girls rise to this situation is an absolute delight. Each of them finds strengths she didn’t know she had—and they all draw closer together because of, rather than in spite of, their differences from one another.

I suspect this book is intended as a one-off, but I would welcome the opportunity to spend more time with the sisterhood. They made me laugh; they also made me think about the changes in women’s roles and opportunities over the past century (give or take a few decades).