Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: YA | Thriller
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 by Sarah Jude is such thrill-ride! There's a serial killer on the loose and this superstitious lot of Rowan's Glen is blaming it on some urban legend about some crazy dude named Birch Markle, roaming the woods wearing animal pelt, lurking in the dark, waiting for his next victim. Thing is, Birch seems to have a taste for young girls with secrets and is known to strike during May Day. And this year's May Day brings a lot of terror with it from a string of murders, dumbfounding secrets, and a jaw-dropping conspiracy that you won't see coming.
THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS is wildly atmospheric and dark, I won't be surprised if you get the heebie-jeebies while reading this. Rowan's Glen is the perfect place for this kind of story, their almost puritanic way of life and centuries-old traditions provided a fertile landscape to sow Birch Markle's legend to the point where I even considered he, or whoever the perpetrator is, might be a werewolf or some creature of the night preying on young women.
Aside from its spine-tingling mystery, Ivy's relationship with Heather drove the story which led to a lot of twists and turns and some shocking revelations. For all the clues SJude dropped and the speculations of the characters, I did NOT see the climax going that way. The truth is more chilling than some serial killer plot which certainly shook Rowan's Glen to its core. Yet for all its tragedies, THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS ended on a hopeful note, I love the resolution and the condemnation and redemption of the key characters. This is a solid standalone and I'm hoping this won't be the last of its kind as far as SJude is concerned. Ms. Jude seems to have a penchant for dark and gothic tales and based on her latest novel, she doesn't censure her plot and characters from delivering the story in the most unexpected and horrific way possible. #bloodthirsty