Title: The Castle School (for Troubled Girls)
Author: Alyssa Sheinmel
Publication: March 2, 2021
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA Fiction
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)
When Moira Dreyfuss’s parents announce that they’re sending her to an all-girls boarding school deep in the Maine woods, Moira isn’t fooled. She knows her parents are punishing her; she’s been too much trouble since her best friend, Nathan, died―and for a while before that. At the Castle School, isolated from the rest of the world, Moira will be expected to pour her heart out to the odd headmaster, Dr. Prince. But she isn’t interested in getting over Nathan’s death or befriending her fellow students.
On her first night there, Moira hears distant music. On her second, she discovers the lock on her window is broken. On her third, she and her roommate venture outside…and learn that they’re not so isolated after all. There’s another, very different, Castle School nearby―this one filled with boys whose parents sent them away, too.
Moira is convinced that the Castle Schools and the doctors who run them are hiding something. But exploring the schools will force Moira to confront her overwhelming grief―and the real reasons her parents sent her away.
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Having read a book by Alyssa Sheinmel before, I had a general idea of the type of book I was picking up when starting The Castle School (for Troubled Girls). I knew there were going to be psychological aspects to it, a deeper meaning than you originally thought, and maybe a twist or turn here or there. I’m happy to report, I got all those things and more.
The story followed Moira as she is sent to a boarding school/treatment facility in the middle of the Main woods where twelve girls live and receive treatment for an array of issues from Dr. Prince. I have to say I love all the characters in this book, no matter how creepy some of them seem to be. I feel like Moira was an important part of the story being the main character, but the other 11 girls, Dr. Prince, Randy, and some other characters I won’t spoil the story by mentioning were all imperative to the story being as good as it was. These side characters really brought the excitement, emotions, and reality to this story out.
I’m not sure what I thought I was starting to read, but while this book is about loss and depression and a school full of girls with issues they are trying to work through, I got a bit of a mystery vibe throughout. This excited me because I love mystery novels. With that said, it was not the mystery type I was use to, but kept be hooked the entire way. I was fully convinced the Prince’s were going to end up being some crazy doctors experimenting on girls without their parent’s knowledge. I was convinced Randy was a complete creeper at first, and I was sure this was going to end a completely different way. I was, however, not disappointed in how this played out.
Surprising to say, I was actually quite emotional towards the end of this book. Where I almost expected some crazy plot twist with weird doctors and parent’s rushing to save their kids, the ending was very cathartic. I think it showed the true help therapy can do for people and how sometimes we don’t always see things the way we should while dealing with grief. There was a lot to unpack in the last five or so chapters of this book and I couldn’t put it down once I got there. I had to see how it ended, even through my teary eyes. Be prepared when you reach this part in the book… you may need some tissues. Many kudos to Sheinmel for that surprise. I was not expecting to cry.
This book truly surprised me. I enjoyed Sheinmel’s previous novel, A Danger to Herself and Others (link to the review below), but I enjoyed The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) even more. Sheinmel touched on the hard stuff that a lot of people don’t like to approach, such as cutting, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and more. Not only touching on them, but talking about the realities of battling those issues and learning to live a more normal life using therapy and exercises to get you there. I really enjoyed this novel and I am, yet again, awaiting Sheinmel’s next novel.
STAR RATING: 5/5
Pick up your copy of The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) by Alyssa Sheinmel on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or check your local bookstore. Also make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are finished. Check out more from author Alyssa Sheinmel on her website HERE. You can check out our review of her previous book, A Danger to Herself and Others HERE.