I came across this one in the library, yes, they are updating their not so big English collection, and of course I had to bring this with me. Murder/mystery in boarding school? Sign me up! And I did definitely enjoy myself, though I have to say something was missing.
Meet Justice, a girl who has to go to a boarding school when her mom dies (her mom gave her homeschooling (which is still such a foreign concept to me)) and it is going to be a change for her. Suddenly she has to get up at dawn, there are no daily baths, there is never a moment of quiet, and then there are the lessons. I was happy to see that Justice was a smart girl and that she quickly got used to the lessons and that she was excelling at them (especially Latin and maths). I love her name, and I love that her parents went for that. Though I guess maybe it is a bit annoying for Justice as no one believes it is her real name. 😛
Justice quickly learns of a mystery, a murder/death, and as the story continues we see that she is still figuring things out and that more things are happening that are just odd/strange. I loved her notebook and what she wrote down. I was actually kind of worried someone would discover it and confront her with what was inside. I was delighted that she made friends with a maid. That may sound weird, but given the time this takes place in and how the other girls act around the servants, this is pretty special. Plus, she also makes a friend in her dorm.
I also loved Justice’s dad. I am still not sure how I feel about him just dumping her at a spooky and lonely (given the location) boarding school, but afterwards we learn that he had his reasons for it. The reason why I liked him is because he takes his daughter seriously. She tells him about what is going on and he listens intently and even gives her a code to use in case of emergency. Go dad!
Things get even more mysterious and creepy when a snow storm threatens the school and a dead body is found. Cut off from the world and Justice has to use all her wits and smarts to find out more. I loved that she did this with Stella and Dorothy at times. I loved that she involved them, and I had so much fun finding the clues and seeing if I could figure out what had happened. I do have to say, I had no clue about the whodunnit. It came out of nowhere, but when we learn the why, I could just nod along. No, not agreeing about murder, that is just too much, but I can imagine why this person broke, why this person may have gone to this path.
We also read about the school and while I loved reading about the building, the lessons, the schedules, the food (Dead baby whut?), I found it horrible that the teachers treated the children like this. The teachers have all the best things, in the mean time the kids have to do with cold water, frozen windows, frozen toes, they have to stand outside, they have to go outside during storms to have games, it was ridiculous.
I am not too happy about yet another addition of mean girls to the boarding school genre. It is getting really eh to see it pop up every time. I get that in real life there are bullies, but can we please have some fiction without it? Rose was just annoying and I didn’t like her at all. Who the hell tosses balls at someone? Justice is not trying to break up your friendships, she just wants to be part of the school. She didn’t on purpose pick your dorm so to block your friend. Get off your high horse.
As I said in the intro, something was missing. I cannot put a finger on it, but there was a spark missing. The book was still fun, and I did enjoy seeing Justice go sleuthing… but it never really held my attention. I got distracted easily, I just couldn’t easily get in the story at times. It felt as if I was far away watching the story instead of, as I have with many books, right in the middle of it all.
But I will definitely read the next book in this series as I am curious what will happen next in Justice’s life. And to see if the spark is there in that book.