The Maidens Review

  • Author: Alex Michaelides
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Murder Mystery
  • No. of pages: 368
  • Dates read: 13.07.2022 – 15.07.2022
  • Star Rating: 2 stars

Plot: Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A 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. 

So, I had heard so much about this author after he published his debut novel, The Silent Patient. My friends and family had read it and said amazing things about it so I was always aware of this author. But, I was never drawn to his first book. That being said, his second book called out to me! Dark academia, greek mythology and a mysterious yet hot professor. I’m in. Unfortunately, this book was not my fave.

I would like to say that overall, as a whole, the story was enjoyable. Sure I had some things that I didn’t love but it wasn’t a detriment to the story. I just hated the ending with every fiber of my being! I don’t think my rating would have been anything higher than 3 stars had I enjoyed the ending but those final chapters made a strong case for a 1 star.

Starting off with the things I loved. I thought Mariana was a great character. I rooted for her throughout this entire novel. I wanted to see her succeed. I think the author did a great job in making you like and want to support the main protagonist. I also thought he did a great job with the elusive Edward Fosca. I was lured in by this mans charms even though I had pages and pages of reasons to be suspicious of him. I enjoyed all their scenes together and their very interesting dynamic over the course of the book.

The story itself was a super quick and easy read. I sped through the pages, I was fully engaged and needed to know more about the characters and the plot.

Unfortunately, all of this was undone by 2 key points. The ending we will get to but my other point was that most of the other characters aside from the two I mentioned felt like NPC characters. There to serve a purpose and then really never to be seen again afterwards. They felt flat and under-developed. In mysteries I expect to be questioning everyone I meet. Being suspicious of character. But it was just so obvious from the get go who was meant to be worth my time and who wasn’t.

Now I actually didn’t mind that as much when reading it intially as I was so focused on our two main characters. But now we must talk about that ending.

Spoilers for the ending of this book!

The entire time I was reading this book I was loving the cat and mouse chase between Fosca and Mariana. Who will catch who out? Until I realised I was playing a completely different game to the author. I was honestly hoping, for the first time ever in a murder mystery, for the murderer to be the most obvious character. I wanted it to be Fosca so so badly and at first when we get the reveal that Mariana’s niece is involved I felt fine. Fosca could still weasel his way into the finale but that did in fact not happen. I was so devastated to read the most out of nowhere reveal. It was the most outrageous plot twist. I felt the author had been working up to this amazing finale where Mariana’s hard work would finally pay off with this big reveal and finally catching Fosca out. What I got was a plot twist for the sake of adding a plot twist. It made no sense, didn’t really add up and then un-did a lot of the characterisation the author had been building since the first page. One of the most disappointing endings I have read in a long time.

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