The May Queen Murders

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The May Queen Murders

Yes, The May Queen Murders is just as creepy as the cover promises.  It is the rural legend that nightmares are made of, and it may give you nightmares.  I thoroughly enjoyed the out of place and time feel, which added a lot to the atmosphere and a general sense of unease.  If you like your country folk weird and your precautionary tales horrifying, this is your book.

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Goodreads Summary

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

My Thoughts

This is an atmospheric read, full of country superstitions, old wives tales, and long held secrets. It is centered around the legend of a murderer who inhabits the forest outside a small, isolated Missouri community.  The setting is what is going to make or break this book for most readers.  It is one that is a bit hard to place in time.  The community is so out of synch with the modern world – they seem to be stuck in an era closer to early American settlers, wearing long dresses and relying on teas and tinctures over modern medicines, but it is clear that the world around them is probably closer to our modern times.  This isolation and separation is key to the plot, the characters, and the atmosphere of gently creeping horror.  Ivy, the narrative voice in this story will give many readers that same feeling of being out of time while still being part of our time.  Her experience of watching close relationships unravel when faced with the diverging paths inherent in growing up is a universal theme that many YA readers will connect with, as are the feelings that come with being a social outsider in the larger picture of the world.  However, there is just something so alien and maybe exotic about her and her world that some readers will embrace it, and others will struggle to connect with.

The plot is paced to develop suspense and that sense of wrongness that slowly builds until it breaks wide open and unleashes a malevolent chaos.  It felt like I was watching an approaching storm cloud, and when the fury hit, I was still a bit unprepared.  Despite my excellent skills of prediction, the twists and turns this book took left me feeling slammed by the climax.  This went from being a tense and rather slow simmering mystery to a full on teen horror flick in a heartbeat.  There were a lot of players on the stage, and it took a bit of hustle to get them all in place for a resolution.  I think it could have been a littlle less chaotic, but that confusion did mirror the confusion the poor protagonist certainly must have been experiencing.  I ended up having to re-read parts to make sure I had it all straight.

I would recommend this book to readers who enjoyed Julie Berry’s All the Truth That’s in Me, which had the same creepy and time lost feel.  I personally enjoyed the book, but I acknowledge that other readers will find it too strange to stick with.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school and beyond.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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