“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.” – Amazon
I want to say “Kudos!” to Alex Michaelides for being brave and publishing a second book so quickly after his amazing debut, The Silent Patient. There are many other authors who take years and years (or never write another book) after they have a highly successful first book, so for Michaelides to put himself out for the world to critique his creation is inspiring.
But because he did, I had difficulties at times trying not to compare The Maidens to The Silent Patient. This is a completely different book from the first, although he did do some crossover with Theo, which I love when authors or screenwriters do this, so I had to keep reminding myself this when it was time to write the review.
While The Silent Patient was slow at times (but still always engaging), The Maidens was much more of a page turner, with me wanting to read what strangeness would happen next or where the clues would lead Mariana. When it came to the characters, I was a bit disappointed in Mariana. Yes, she’s had a lot of trauma recently, but she’s also a professional group therapist, so for her to not see some blatant things or the way she acted with some of her patients (one in particular) just didn’t seem completely true. And the one patient that she was so unprofessional with continued to have a spot in the story, but I felt it was pointless and didn’t really do anything to enhance the book.
I was disappointed in the secret society because it wasn’t very secret. And this is not Michaelides fault, but before picking up the book I was thinking it would be more where people are wondering if it really does exist and who are the members. But it’s pretty much the opening scene when Mariana gets to the campus, we know for sure there is a special set of young women and even who they are… like I mentioned, this was just an expectation that I had and wanted to point out to other readers so they don’t have the same expectation as me going in.
Even with those two bigger disappointments, The Maidens, was still a very good read. The Greek mythology is interesting and adds another layer to the tale. Michaelides‘ descriptions of the campus and Greece is superb and it feels as if the reader is actually there. Some people may figure out who the murderer is early, but I kept switching my mind and was not correct. But I don’t think a lot of people will see the twist, which was very disturbing and still had me thinking about it days later… and to me that is always a sign of a good book.
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