The May Queen Murders
Author: Sarah Jude
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Synopsis: Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.
Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.
The May Queen Murders is an interesting YA horror/thriller that isn’t for the faint of heart – there is a lot in this book that reminds me of a really gory horror film (and since I really like that kind of thing, I was pretty much in YA horror heaven). It was a dark read that made me glad I was reading it during the daytime quite a few times (it can be difficult for a book to spook me, but the overall creepy theme that The May Queen Murders had going on definitely did the trick.
Ivy lives with her family in Rowan’s Glen, a small community of farmers who keep mostly to themselves. While the other kids in Ivy’s school think that the kids who live in Rowan’s Glen are a little off, Ivy and her friends don’t really care much what they think – they like their lives for the most part and they have each other. Ivy is close with her cousin Heather – they are almost like sisters and typically inseparable from each other. However, things start getting a little odd – animals start turning up dead, and the Glen folk fear that a disturbed man named Birch Markle might be back. Birch Markle was accused of murdering the Glen’s May Day Queen years ago, and it’s rumored that he’s still in the woods that border the Glen and has never been caught.
“Thing is, Birch always liked the woods. He knew them. He was the woods.”
When Ivy catches Heather in the barn with a boy, she automatically assumes that it is her longtime crush, Rook. Based on what Ivy saw and the things that Heather says to Ivy after, Ivy believes that is who it is. Then, Heather begins acting weird. She starts wandering off to be with the boy that she talks about being in love with, having Ivy cover for her, since they aren’t supposed to be out after dark on account of all the animals turning up dead in the fields. When Heather and Ivy start arguing and not spending any more time together, Ivy feels completely lost without Heather.
During all of this, the town’s people are arguing about having the May Day festivities reinstated, along with getting a new May Queen. Since Ivy’s mother was not born in the Glen, she cannot sign up to be selected as May Queen, but Heather can. Because the last May Queen was murdered so many years ago, some people (Ivy’s father mainly) are against the election of another May Queen, and try to fight it.
“‘So that’s it? It’s a done deal? May Day ain’t just a bad idea. It’s cursed. You know bringin’ back May Day is trouble, and we got enough.'”
When a devastating discovery shakes up life in the Glen, especially for Ivy, a lot of shocking secrets come to light – about Heather , about the previous May Queen, about Ivy’s parents – along with all the people in the Glen that Ivy grew up thinking she could trust.
“‘You don’t stop loving a person because they have secrets. You make their secrets your own.'”
The May Queen Murders is one of those books that have a hell of a lot of secrets and shocking elements that you just don’t see coming. I pretty much can figure out the endings of most thrillers by the time I’m halfway through the book, but I just didn’t have that experience with this one. I was completely baffled by what was going on throughout the entire book, especially at the end when there were more twists than I even thought possible.
The writing style of this book was also mysterious, and I loved how well the author put the whole story together in such a dark, creepy fashion. The characters were all pretty interesting, and I did find myself really enjoying the depth they had to them…especially Heather. I think her character was my favorite. Some of the other characters really aren’t what they seem (and you’ll really be surprised as to who those characters are!).
“You can’t know the kind of evil that runs through folks’ souls, but you also can’t know the good that lies there until you look hard enough.”
There is a lot of graphic violence/gore going on in this book, and while a lot of people don’t really care for that kind of thing in a book, I think it was done well. There are also some really terrifying situations and descriptions in this book that will give you the chills, so that’s definitely a plus!
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Sarah Jude lives by the woods and has an owl that lands on her chimney every night. She grew up believing you had to hold your breath whenever you passed a graveyard or a bridge spanning water. Now she writes about cemeteries, murder, and ghostly apparitions. She resides in Missouri with her husband, three children, and three dogs.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS, US Only.
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