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Review: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude
Notes: ARC received via Amazon Vine.
Young Adult, Suspense, Horror
Digital/Print (304 pages, HARPERTEEN)
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. 

Author Site: website 

Dark and unrelenting, I loved it! (5 stars)

I had begun to think I was in a reading slump as the past few young adult novels I'd read hadn't lived up to the expectations I had set for them. It was with much trepidation that I snatched up The May Queen Murders hoping to savor something grisly, dark, and utterly twisted. To my great pleasure I can report that it's all of that and so much more.

TMQM very much reminded me of the film, The Village, at first. There is certainly a backwards feel to Rowan's Glen and there are other elements quite similar but it's certainly no knock-off. The folks of the Glen have a lot of superstitions and live an odd blend of old-fashioned and modern that is a little disjointed. It left me with some world building issues (where do they get the undyed cloth the one family dyes, for example) that took a lot of suspension of disbelief. Once I could get past a bit of that it was very much a page-turner that managed to surprise me multiple times. And I am notoriously hard to surprise in film and fiction.

It was weird and a bit gothic, quite mature in the sexual arena, and intensely violent. It's not quite horror but for enthusiasts who've enjoyed books like Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson or Black Ice by Becca Fitpatrick it's very much worth picking up. I loved this dark and unrelenting story!

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