Do you like twisted thrillers? Do you like books that don’t play it safe? Well then, I have a recommendation for you! The Maidens is dark academia meets mythology meets murder. Something of a marmite book, it seems to have divided some critics for its out-there plot and unusual style. And I have to admit, it’s a little bit mad… but that’s kinda why I liked it.
There was something uncanny that swept me up in the story. The atmosphere seeped through the pages and into my mind. Listening to the audiobook, I felt like I was stepping into a liminal space, teetering on the edge of reality. Written with tremendous skill, it incorporated Greek mythology and literary references without being ham-fisted and by using them to enhance the characterisation. Personally, I loved the use of the Persephone/Demeter myth. Remarkably for a thriller, I was as interested in the powerful portrayal of grief as I was in the ensuing drama.
Deeply entrenched in Greek tragedy, the themes it draws on are no accident. They are woven into the narrative as if by the Fates themselves. From the topic of family to vulnerable women, the dark truth is foreshadowed. And for all that I could see some flaws in the narrative- like some pointless (and obvious) red herrings- I still couldn’t stop reading.
I will admit that in some ways the finale is a little left of field, but I actually liked it for that! While the ending isn’t clearly signposted, with no obvious breadcrumbs or clues, it is clearly mapped out through other narrative hints and subtle cues (highlight for spoiler: I heard someone say that they didn’t think Sebastian was written as a narcissist, but I disagree, as there were moments in her memories where he was being cruel, yet these were cleverly rose tinted because of Marianne’s love and grief). In many ways, the mystery was more meaningful because of just how twisted it was. And that’s why if you’re looking for a thriller that’s a little different, I’d suggest giving this a go.
Rating: 4/5 bananas
So, have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!