Alex Michaelides’s The Maidens (Celadon Books, expected June 10, 2021) is a stocked pond of red herrings that kept me guessing until the end. My biggest complaint with psychological thrillers and unreliable narrators is that they tend to be very predictable; I don’t read a lot of them for this reason. But I had no such complaints with this novel; The Maidens had me on edge and second-guessing my gut (and Mariana’s) with each turn of the page. I simply couldn’t put it down.
The novel is set at Cambridge University, and I’m not sure if the university aspect reminding me of my brief time at Oxford (we had ‘scouts’ not ‘bedders’) or the literary references, which are very Tennyson heavy, spoke to my dorkalicious self the loudest, but I was immediately hooked.
Recently widowed, Mariana Andros is a group therapist who is struggling with her own grief, anger, and trust issues. When her niece, a student at Cambridge, calls her in a panic following the murder of a classmate and friend, she rushes to the girl’s side. The murdered girl is part of a secret society, known as the Maidens, and led by Edward Fosca, a charming and handsome (and American) professor of Greek tragedies. Mariana knows he is a murderer – she just can’t prove it. She stays in Cambridge to hunt a killer – finding his calling cards in pinecones and postcards with ancient Greek phrases from the very tragedies he teaches. When another Maiden is found murdered, Mariana’s obsession with proving the beloved professor guilty reaches its boiling point – she will stop him from killing again even if she must destroy everything in her path to do so.
An elite university. A secret society of beautiful young women. A handsome professor. Bloodied bodies with cryptic calling cards.
A tragedy befitting the Greeks.
Read this book.
*I haven’t read The Silent Patient, but I know there is some cross-over with some of the minor characters. The scene has been set for a third book that can have the first two collide – and I’m here for it.
** A huge thank you to Celadon Books for getting this ARC in my grubby lil’ paws. For those local to me, keep an eye out. I’ll be slipping one of these ARCS in a little library!