Thoughts on "The Maidens" by Alex Michaelides
Updated: Aug 16
Wow! Wow! Wow! I thought I had the ending of this book all figured out until the very last minute. I can't remember the last time I felt shocked by the ending of a thriller in this capacity. Initially, I thought this would be a slow read with a predictable ending but boy was I wrong. Without giving to much away, here is my honest review of the book.
Mariana Andros is convinced that Greek Tragedy professor, Edward Fosca is a murderer. Fosca is beloved by many students including the members of a secret society of women students known as the Maidens. But when one member of the Maidens is found murdered in Cambridge, group therapist Mariana Andros turns her suspicion to Edward Fosca. Mariana becomes obsessed with stopping the killer and is willing to do whatever it takes to uncover the truth.
Review (No Spoilers)
The Maidens is a perfect example of a slow read but not at all a boring read. While I mentioned several times that I felt that the action was a lot slower than I anticipated, I also found myself unable to put the book down. There were some parts I felt were unnecessary to the overall plot such as Marianna's patient Henry, the almost random inclusion of the sins of the porter, Morris, and the seemingly unhelpful forensic psychologist, Julian. These specific points felt unnecessary because they felt like loose ends that were quickly tied up and contributed little, if not anything, to the central story. Still, these minor plot diversions were not enough to stop me from reading the book. There were so many parts of the book that I loved that drove me to finish the book in a week.
Alex Michaelides stays consistent with the theme of Greek tragedies, psychology and love. The theme was felt throughout the entire book and played a great deal in the ending. The Greek references to tragedies were a refreshing take on the mystery/thriller genre. I believe that's what I loved the most about this book. Because of the themes and plot twist it was unlike any other mystery/thriller I've read in awhile.
The book also addresses the topic of grooming and the lingering effects it can have on young women. I feel as if this is addressed in a very subtle and sensitive way through our main character Marianna. She acts as a protector for the Maidens whether they want it or not. Marianna is a character that feels safe for young women who may need to feel protected from themselves or others. She also sets an example of how to stand up for yourself when your back is against the wall. Marianna's character was so well-written and relatable that I actually thought the book was written by a woman before I did my research on the author. Alex Michaelides does a great job of portraying all of the main characters and their inner struggles. I wouldn't be surprised if he actually did have a degree in psychology.
Overall, I think this a fantastic read that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a different type of psychological thriller. I plan on re-reading it myself and looking for any clues I might have missed along the way the first go around.
One Last Thought
Rumor has it that a television series is in the works for "The Maidens". I am fully on board for this and can't wait to watch! I hope the series focuses more on certain relationships and explores the challenging topics of grooming, abuse and manipulation in a tasteful and insightful way. It is a conversation that needs to be had, but not romanticized in the way that is becoming more common in mainstream media. The show should consistently villainize the villians and elevate the voices and experiences of the victims. Simple as that.