Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we will be discussing the second book written by Alex Michaelides called The Maidens – without giving any spoilers away, of course. If this author sounds familiar, he should! Michaelides wrote the wildly popular Silent Patient, which received the coveted ten out of ten star rating by yours truly.
While I considered The Silent Patient to be an excellent read, The Maidens was… Not so much. Before we delve deeper, I will be placing a trigger warning on this book for violence, murder, and all forms of abuse. Now, let’s get to it:
Mariana is a psychotherapist specializing in group therapy who has her own struggles to deal with. She considers herself to be “surrounded by death” and is still mourning the loss of her late husband who died tragically over a year ago. The only person she has left in her life who she cares about is her niece, Zoe, who is like her own daughter as she became an orphan at a young age.
Barely making it through day to day life, things take a sharp turn when Zoe calls Mariana in distress because her best friend, Tara, at Cambridge has been brutally murdered. Springing into action, Mariana hops on the train the next morning to her alma mater to comfort her niece and learn more about the tragedy that befell on the campus.
Once Mariana arrives, she begins to learn Zoe’s disturbing view of her friend’s death and feels confident that the culprit is Professor Edward Fosca. Fosca teaches Greek tragedy at Cambridge and has a special group of students called “The Maidens”. These incredibly beautiful girls from privileged backgrounds follow Fosca around as if he is a cult leader and Tara was a member of this elite group. She was also, supposedly, having an affair with Fosca who threatened her the night she was killed.
Mariana decides to investigate Fosca herself because her and Zoe are convinced that the police are overlooking him as a suspect. Through her own search of Tara’s room, Mariana discovers a postcard featuring some ancient Greek art and handwritten text from lines of the Greek tragedies she was learning from Fosca.
During Mariana’s time at Cambridge, another student from The Maidens has been killed and another postcard has been found among her belongings. What’s more, Zoe and Mariana have both received a calling card too. Is Fosca the cold blooded killer that Zoe and Mariana believe him to be? And will they live to tell the tale? Read The Maidens to find out!
I am SO incredibly disappointed about The Maidens because the story line had the potential to be great. In fact, I was totally loving it until the grand finale which felt haphazard and completely inappropriate. Let’s start with that I liked about this book first:
As a theater junkie, I appreciated all of the nods to the classic Greek tragedies as well as delving into the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece. I also enjoyed how this book was connected to The Silent Patient through some of the characters that made cameos in The Maidens. There were lots of wonderful things happening in the plot but it just didn’t work together as a whole.
I devoured The Maidens in three sittings but I was left feeling very unimpressed once it was over. There were so many different characters and story lines that were simply tossed aside in this read, which made their inclusion worthless to the rest of the book. The ending was also AWFUL and it felt like Michaelides wrote it for shock’s sake and to just get the book over with.
Had Michaelides spent more time developing overlooked plot points and characters, The Maidens probably would have felt much more comprehensive. Overall, it read like a bunch of scattered ideas that never fully came together. It also could have ended on a more believable note rather than what felt like something thrown together. As soon as the grand reveal happened, I almost didn’t even bother finishing it and that’s really saying something.
Not only do I consider The Maidens to be poorly written but Mariana wasn’t the best main character, either. While her sorrow is totally understandable, she literally showed no emotion throughout the entire book. It was really hard to connect with her despite her sad past and she seemed to be just placed in the situation rather than immersed in it. I felt similarly to all of the characters in The Maidens, giving me no one to root for and adding to the overall disappointment I had when I finished reading.
I am going to rate The Maidens with a two out of ten stars. If you are expecting a book just as good as The Silent Patient, don’t bother. Actually, don’t bother period because it wasn’t worth my time and is certainly not worth yours. WHOMP WHOMP.
What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah