Pre-Teen to Adult Readers
Readers of all ages who relish tales of high jinks and adventure with a paranormal twist will enjoy K-Girls. The read will be particularly nostalgic for those such as me who spent their youth in the 1980’s and enjoyed reading Enid Blyton’s St Clare’s and Malory Towers series. It is many a girls dream to attend boarding school away from the confines of home life, forging new friendships and experiencing exciting escapades and this book does not disappoint in bringing these dreams alive.
K-Girls is the first book in the Kylemore Abbey Series, by author Lydia Little, who was herself once a pupil of the school (scroll down for her bio). It has been released in both digital format and paperback. In K-Girls Alice Stone persuades her parents to send her to boarding school, wanting to have the adventures she always dreamed about and at the same time reinvent herself. She is drawn to the beauty and splendour of Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, a convent school for girls, housed in a former castle. Alice enters the school as a somewhat nervous first year, nevertheless determined to make her mark and enjoy her life there to the full.
Soon after she arrives she encounters Ruth, the ghost of a former pupil, who died at the school in the 1920’s and whose body resides in the cemetery. Alice has never seen a ghost before, let alone held a conversation with one! For her part Ruth has had a lonely existence since becoming a ghost, being able to observe the comings and goings at Kylemore, to which she is tied, but never having communicated with a soul, living or dead. Alice keeps Ruth and her ability to see and communicate with her a secret from her new friends, Gale and Bessie, and others at Kylemore, lest they think she is losing her mind.
As a first year Alice and her friends are viewed as the newbies by the other girls, especially the seniors and Alice cannot resist embroiling herself in some daring escapades as she strives to prove her worth in challenges set by the older girls. Her success in these ventures is threatened by some enemies she inadvertently makes and she has to rely on Ruth’s assistance and her own cunning and tenacity to succeed, often against all odds.
I enjoyed the two main characters of Ruth and Alice and the friendship and mysrerious bond they formed. Alice is a spunky, confident and likeable heroine, wanting to make her mark and do right by others. She is desperate to prove that she can succeed in the tasks she is set and at the same time not wanting to offend Dame Mary, who runs the school, with her exploits. Ruth is desperate for a friend, having been on her own for so long and sometimes Alice, who doesn’t want her ability to communicate with Ruth to jeopardise her budding friendships with other girls, is a little unfeeling with some of the things she says to her, although she does feel guilty afterwards. I really felt for Ruth as she cannot recall the circumstances around her death and cannot comprehend why she has not passed over. I was interested to learn about her story as her memories start to resurface. Ruth has a strong sense of what is right and wrong, sometimes at odds with more modern sensibilities.
The novel is set in the 1980’s and there are many references to the popular culture of the time. It is clear that the author is familiar with this time period as well as the minutiae of school life at the school she attended and its history. I enjoyed the descriptions of the school and its grounds and the escapades of the girls! There are many humorous scenes, such as Alice talking to Ruth and being overheard talking to herself by others and other scenes where certain characters get their comeuppance.
There are many other characters in the novel, comprising Alice’s friends, Gale and Bessie and other characters comprising older girls and teachers, some of whom do not have Alice’s interests at heart. The novel also deals sensitively with the usual issues of the making and breaking of friendships and making up, their emotions being perhaps more acute than normal as the girls are away from home and in a secluded environment. Some of the characters are not all what they first seem and there are a number of plot twists, including a major one at the end, which I did not expect. I will be very interested to find out where the author takes the tale in the next instalment!
I recommend this novel to readers of all ages who like tales of adventure and mystery with paranormal elements, but which also explore the trials and tribulations of pre-teen and teenage girls in their formative years.
Reviewed by Tina Williams
A copy of this book was provided by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.
Author Bio: Lydia Little grew up in Kinsale, Co. Cork. Convincing her parents to send her to boarding school, Lydia attended secondary school in Kylemore Abbey School for girls in Connemara from the ages of 12 to 18. Having kept diaries throughout, she still enjoys putting pen to paper, only now her journals are full of plots, scribbles, quotes and new characters, all shouting for inclusion in her new books.
After a stint of sailing, living in the UK and a short life as a hotelier, Lydia has returned to West Cork, where she now lives with her husband, 3 children, 3 dogs and a mad eyed cat named Bowie.
K-Girls is her first novel.