Book Review

The Maidens

The Maidens

Author: Alex Michaelides

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publication Date: June 15, 2021

Publisher: Celadon Books/Macmillan Audio

Thank you to libro.fm for providing me with a copy of this audiobook. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.

CONTENT WARNING: grief, mention of sexual and physical abuse, death, mention of drug use, self-harm, murder, gore, death of an animal, mention of child abuse, mention of domestic violence

Rating: 3 out of 5.

handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.

Alex Michaelides burst onto the bookish scene with his debut, The Silent Patient, and like so many others, I jumped directly onto the bandwagon. The combination of mystery/thriller and an MC who was a psychotherapist was a lure that I couldn’t possibly resist. So when this follow up popped up, there was no way I wasn’t going to get my hands on it. The audiobook was narrated by Louise Brealey and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. Although Holdbrook-Smith’s parts were short yet creepy, I could listen to his deep, smooth voice all day long. And Brealey has a perfect voice for narrating this book, altering the tension levels easily throughout the story.

It was kind of hard not to compare this story to the previous one, especially once I realized that there was a tiny bit of crossover with one of the characters. I was surprised at the blind spots that Mariana had developed, especially since it’s repeatedly mentioned how good her instinct is, and how good she is at reading people, not to mention the fact that she is a group therapist trained to understand human behavior. She was a somewhat disappointing main character, for me. 

I’m not sure if this story just wasn’t as enjoyable, or if my expectations were unreasonably high after the first book, but I definitely wasn’t as thrilled with this one as the last. Don’t get me wrong — it wasn’t a bad book by any stretch of the imagination. But there were some things that I didn’t love about it. First of all, there were some threads in the story that kept coming up and then just dropped when they didn’t suit the plot anymore. This was endlessly frustrating to me. The “secret society” was anything but. Everyone knew what the group was, and who the members were. The only secret was what they were doing. There were a LOT of potential suspects, so that when the suspect was finally unmasked, it wasn’t some huge revelation. It just kind of felt like picking a name out of a hat, and a letdown that Mariana, this amazing expert on human behavior had completely failed to pick out anything. 

However, there were some good things about the story. The tension levels were maintained and increased masterfully throughout the book, leading me to sit on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen next. I loved the Greek mythology aspects of the story, and found myself fascinated by learning about that. Also, the descriptions of the setting were so vivid and picturesque that it felt as though I was transported right there into an atmospheric location. Overall, this was a good read. As long as you don’t go into it expecting the same thing as The Silent Patient

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 8

5 replies »

  1. I really liked his previous release, so definitely want to check this one out! Although I’ve seen quite some mixed reviews on this one..
    Great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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