The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

Happy Halloween! It’s funny how one day has so much anticipation that builds and then it’s over fairly quickly. I decided to post a book review of a dark academia thriller I read recently, The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. This book wasn’t featured on my “Spooky TBR” post I published this month. Whenever I travel, I like to bring along my kindle as I don’t like the idea of physical books taking up precious packing space. My Spooky TBR was all the physical books I wanted to read, and The Maidens was a book I purchased for my kindle. Therefore, I ended up reading The Maidens and putting aside my physical Spooky TBR pile for now.

The Maidens piqued my interest as it seemed to combine dark academia, mystery, and greek mythology into one book. When I was debating which books to load on my kindle, The Maidens was the first book that came to mind. The Maidens was a book I enjoyed reading, however, the big twist, in the end, didn’t work for me. I’m a bit underwhelmed because I was highly anticipating this and I felt the story fell flat.

Mariana Andros is a skilled psychotherapist whose grief of losing her partner, Sebastian, has pulled her down. As she moves about her day, she is alerted to murder at her niece’s college campus which also happens to be Mariana’s alma mater, Cambridge. Zoe, Mariana’s niece, teams up with Mariana to help investigate the murder. Intertwined with the murder case is a college professor, Edward Fosca, who has a special group of students called the Maidens. Mariana is determined to find evidence that Fosca was the one who killed the girls. As Mariana digs deeper, she realizes there’s a lot more at stake than just the murdered girls.

As mentioned, I liked the mentioning of various greek tragedies and mythology. Fosca is a professor who specializes in this area of study, so it made sense why various greek mythology tragedies were mentioned. I also thought Michaelides does a great job at illustrating the setting of the book. I could imagine Mariana in a fashionable trenchcoat wandering around a gloomy campus and interacting with the students as she goes. Speaking of Mariana, I liked her as the main protagonist. I was rooting for her and I could emphasize with her grief.

The story and the ultimate twist didn’t work for me. I won’t discuss spoilers, but if you’re curious, I wrote about the spoiler in my Goodreads review hidden under spoiler tags. The twist in my opinion felt a bit out there. As I read other reviews on Goodreads, I can now envision the instances in the book that led to this twist. The reason the twist didn’t work for me was because of how heavily it impacted Mariana. I loved Mariana as a character and I thought the twist cheapened her back story. Besides the twist, I found it extremely hard to believe that Mariana was the only one who noticed Fosca’s creepy behavior. If this were in real life, everyone would think Fosca was a huge creep, yet Mariana spent a majority of the book convincing others of this.

Overall, I’m glad I spent the time reading the Maidens, however, it ended up being a letdown for me. I thought this would easily be one of my favorite books I read in 2021, but this wasn’t the case. If you have read The Maidens, I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

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