The author of the bestselling thriller The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides returns with his sophomore novel The Maidens.
The Maidens is an erudite thriller set at Cambridge University in the U.K. Mariana is certain that the Greek tragedy professor Edward Fosca is a killer. Mariana’s niece, Zoe, calls her and tells her that her best friend has been brutally murdered: stabbed tens of times and had her throat cut.
Mariana, a recent widow and group therapist, travels to Cambridge to be with Zoe in her time of need. As more murders occur, Mariana fights to have Edward Fosca prosecuted and keep Zoe safe.
When I read Alex Michaelides’ debut thriller, The Silent Patient, I’ll admit I wasn’t blown away. I found it middle-of-the-road as far as thrillers go and didn’t plan to read his sophomore novel until other readers told me that even though they had disliked Michaelides’ debut, they liked The Maidens.
This isn’t how it went down for me. I gave The Silent Patient about a 3.5 out of 5, but The Maidens is a solid 2 for me. While I enjoyed the studious setting of Cambridge and the character of suspicion, Edward Fosca, an English professor, the execution of the thriller was lackluster.
The journey to find answers to the murderer of young college women was captivating. I felt connected to Mariana (even though she did make dumb choices when there’s a serial killer out there) and found myself rooting for her to catch the killer. Pages 1-300 made me ravenous for more.
However, when it came to the last 30 pages, the reveal spoiled everything that came before. The reveal felt implausible and illogical, unhinted at and cheap. If the murderer and their motivations had been clean cut and made sense, I could have accepted this thriller as maybe a four star read. I did not feel like the ending was concluded fully and I was left with a lot of questions.
There were plots holes concerning timelines and the past that did not add up. The killer’s motivation was wishy-washy at best. The ending and reveal was so fast that it was hard to absorb the truths that were being spun to you as the reader. It was overwhelming and under-delivered.
I’m promising myself after this time around that I will not be reading Alex Michaelides next thriller, no matter how much everyone tells me I should.(2 / 5)