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The Maidens

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Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.

337 pages, Hardcover

First published June 3, 2021

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About the author

Alex Michaelides

9 books27.3k followers
Alex Michaelides was born and raised in Cyprus. He has an M.A. in English literature from Trinity College, Cambridge University, and an M.A. in screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. The Silent Patient was his first novel and was the biggest-selling debut in the world in 2019. It spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list and sold in a record-breaking forty-nine countries. Alex lives in London.

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Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
December 1, 2021
oooh, goodreads choice awards finalist for best mystery & thriller 2021! WHAT WILL HAPPEN LET’S FIND OUT!

i have put off writing this review since reading the ARC back in MARCH because i didn't want to poop on anyone else's pre-release anticipation with my less-than-glowing reaction, but now that it's been out for a bit, i'm gonna let my poop out, too. stand back.

i didn't get around to reading The Silent Patient until The Great Lockdown of 2020, and it was just the twistyfun distraction i needed from the world, so when i heard that his follow-up was going to be a campus thriller involving seeeeecret societies, classical mythology, and a sinister professor, my The Secret History-loving self was SO EXCITED, and the marketing campaign leading up to its release kindled alla my dark delicious anticipation.

and yet.

it's just...look, i hate being that guy, but it's just not very good. i'm pretty reasonable about managing my expectations when it comes to summertime psych-suspense thrillery books; they don't gotta be art, they just need to hold my interest and maybe throw a surprise or two my way.

escapist entertainment is fine, but i don't like being insulted, and that's what this felt like.

QUICKPLOT: mariana is a psychotherapist specializing in group therapy who is still hard-grieving the drowning-death of her beloved husband the previous year. she reluctantly returns to the memory-saturated college campus where their love story began to console her niece/adopted daughter-figure zoe after her best friend tara is found murdered. zoe suspects one of the professors of killing tara, and, encouraged by her former mentor, mariana decides to stick around and do some amateur sleuthing, during which time more girls are murdered. meanwhile, mariana is being low-key stalked by one of her patients from back home, and she meets a younger man who claims to be psychic and is convinced they have a romantic future together, because visions.

my first gripe was with the structure. each chapter is about three pages long, which speeds up the pace and prevents the reader from becoming fully immersed in the story—we're just skimmed along through the plot points at a pace seemingly designed to camouflage the fact that there's no development happening; that this is more like an outline of a mystery novel than one fully-realized.

the immersion problem is made worse by the frequent insertions of psych-stuff; these clinical asides breaking up the flow:

Accompanying the housekeeper on shopping trips to the crowded and frenetic market in the center of Athens always made Mariana nervous. And she was relieved, and a little surprised, to return home unscathed. Large groups continued to intimidate her as she grew older. At school, she found herself on the sidelines, feeling as if she din't fit in with her classmates. And this feeling of not fitting in was hard to shake. Years later, in therapy, she came to understand that the schoolyard was simply a macrocosm of the family unit: meaning her uneasiness was less about the here and now—less about the schoolyard itself, or the market in Athens, or any other group in which she might find herself—and more to do with the family in which she grew up, and the lonely house she grew up in.

on the very next page:

Mariana grew up with a keen awareness of [her mother's] loss. As a therapist, she knew a baby's first sense of self comes through its parents' gaze. We are born being watched—our parents' expressions, what we see reflected in the mirror of their eyes, determines how we see ourselves. Mariana had lost her mother's gaze—and her father, well, he found it hard to look at her directly.

i have a problem with that inserted "well," voice-wise, but the bigger problem is the decision to develop a character thru psych 101 notes. it's...inelegant. i understand that she's a therapist and what she does is bound to inform who she is (which again opens up that whole can of worms re: voice), but these details just don't work in chapters this short; they're not well-integrated into the story, they distance the reader from the character and there's no opportunity to settle back in before we're off to the next chapter.

in fact, a lot of this book feels like the author is shoehorning in details from his own personal cache of 'stuff he knows about,' without regard for their narrative utility: psychotherapy, the beauty of the greek islands, greek mythology, the greek language. these recurring motifs take up a lot of real estate at the expense of other story elements, like character development, and they don't do much to enhance the larger story.

because here's what's not in his personal cache of 'stuff he knows about:' creating believable characters.

NONE of the characters are believable, every interaction is fraught, written as though accompanied by a very intense and cheesy b-movie musical score, everyone all sticky with malice and foreboding.

suspend all disbelief, ye who enter here.

so. zoe believes professor edward fosca killed tara, claiming that they were having an affair and that, when tara threatened to expose their relationship, fosca threatened her right back and hours later, she turned up dead.

edward fosca is a byronically handsome american professor specializing in greek tragedies (natch) who seems to only teach the prettiest girls on campus; several confident, intelligent girls known as the maidens who have formed a tight-knit little secret society based on the persephone myth, and whose education is frequently conducted by fosca in private sessions featuring drugs and alcohol and wild parties but it's not a harem at all, oh no, he's just the light these 20-year-old girlmoths collectively named after virginal ingenues gravitate towards and it's all perfectly normal academia. tara was one of the maidens, but neither fosca nor any of the other young women except zoe seem especially broken up over her death. to contrast grief-responses: mariana is clutching and weeping over her dead spouse's sneakers fourteen months after his death, but an inner-circle maiden dies and the next day these ladies are just fine and dandy, cool and snarky.

now, you may well ask yourself why no one would give a little wait, what? about a female-student-collecting prof drinking behind closed doors with all these pretty little maidens, or find the optics of professor mcdreamy striding across campus trailed by an entourage of girls in flowy white dresses on their way to a memorial service...ill-advised?

no objections at all, because on this campus, *shrug*, that's just how students learn. when mariana was matriculating, she developed a relationship with her (female) advisor that continues to the present-day, but began with the same kind of boundary-blurring:

Most of the teaching...was done on a one-to-one basis, between fellow and student, usually taking place in the fellow's rooms. At any time after midday, or even earlier, at the discretion of the fellow concerned, alcohol was invariably served...providing an education in drinking as well as literature.

It also meant that tutorials took on a more personal flavor, and lines between teacher and pupil became blurred—confidences were given, and intimacies exchanged.

speaking of exchanged intimacies,

mariana may understand that sometimes teachers and students drink together in private rooms and that's a totally normal part of the education process, but she trusts zoe's instincts about fosca's guilt, and he's certainly not acting unshady.

cue dialogue:

"I can see you have cast me as the villain—a predator preying on my vulnerable students. Except now you're met these young ladies, you can see there's nothing vulnerable about them. Nothing untoward happens at these meetings—it's just a small study group, discussing poetry, enjoying wine and intellectual debate."

"Except now one of those girls is dead."

Professor Fosca frowned. There was an unmistakable flash of anger in his eyes. He stared at her. "Do you think you can see inside my soul?"

Mariana looked away, embarrassed by the question. "No, of course not. I didn't mean—"

"Forget it." He took another drag of his cigarette, all anger apparently gone. "The word 'psychotherapist,' as you know, comes from the Greek 'psyche,', meaning 'soul,' and 'therapeia,' meaning 'healing.' Are you a healer of souls? Will you heal mine?"

"No. Only you can do that."

Fosca dropped his cigarette onto the path. He ground it into the earth with his foot. "You're determined to dislike me. I don't know why."

i am determined to dislike them both because of how poorly they are written. that dialogue—yeesh. it's contrived and melodramatic and just bad. "Do you think you can see inside my soul?" really, michaelides? and then the old tonal switcheroo from melodrama to etymological mansplaining her profession to her? you can practically see the red-pen arrow promising "authentic dialogue TK."

mariana is why we can't have nice things in the 'strong female character' department. i get that she's raw and marinating in grief, borderline hysterical with nostalgia and (figurative) ghosts, but she's impossible to root for. she does not come across as the intelligent, educated woman we are assured she is. while she's able to spew chonks of textbook psych-evaluations about those around her, they come across as reflexive; knee-jerk assessments without any real insight into human behavior. she's in a perma-fog, she responds emotionally in every situation, she misreads every room. she's a poorly drawn caricature: the grieving widow/meddling sleuth that all the men fall for even though it wasn't until sebaaaaastian that she ever felt beautiful blah blah blah.

anyway, the guy she thinks is a murderer invites her to dinner at his place and she accepts:

Fosca smiled. "Good...My rooms, at eight? And one more thing—"

Before she could stop him, he leaned forward—

And he kissed her on the lips.

It only lasted a second. By the time Mariana could react, he had already pulled back.

Fosca turned and went through the open gate. Mariana heard him whistling as he walked away.

She brushed away the kiss with her fist.

How dare he?

She felt as if she had been assaulted—attacked; and that he had won somehow, succeeded in wrong-footing, intimidating her.

what on earth was that? that And one more thing— like he's a predatory columbo.

it's a power move out of a gothic melodrama, complete with the wilting female victim, and whistling? really? that whole scene is so...silly.

okay, that covers structure and characters, so i guess plot is next?

mariana's involvement in this investigation beggars belief. she is asked by her former advisor to assist in the investigation because 1) she is a group therapist, and the school is like a group, and 2) she used to go to the school. neither of these are qualifications for murder-solving, an elderly professor has no authority to deputize her onto the case, and mariana has a conflict of interest cluttering up her tunnel-vision, but no matter—she agrees and begins conducting her own interviews with various parties, slipping into the deceased's room and pawing through her stuff, hiding in shadows and spying on students and tagging zoe in on her amateur sleuthery, against the protestations of the actual police, whose case she is most definitely compromising. in fact, on page 73 the chief inspector attached to the case tells her to keep out of the investigation, which warning comes before she's even begun her actual snooping. mariana's dubious contributions to the investigation are superfluous—the authorities have already called in a renowned forensic psychologist to consult—a man with whom mariana is acquainted, who light-flirts with her and allows her to sit in on his suspect interviews. because all of this is how things work.

i suppose we're meant to see this ignoring-police-mandates stance as plucky? determined? but she stumbles over clues and evidence on her merrily misguided crusade without looping in the people who actually know what they're doing until you just wanna shake her.

where i lost my mind was when mariana is led to the location of the murder weapon by a non-police person, and it doesn't even occur to her to object when they remove it from its hidey-hole. i know she's not a professional with a responsibility to preserve evidence, but oh we just allow people to grab murder weapons now, do we? mariana? COME ON, MARIANA!

but the real issue i had was with the reveal of whodunnit and why. the motive is dumb, the whole unfurled scope of the murder plot even dumber; an overcomplicated rube goldberg machine built on interlocking assumptions, wishful predictions, and magical thinking from a wholly unqualified strategist. there are at least five things about it that MAKE NO SENSE and the whole thing left me spluttering with outrage.

seriously, ____ (proper noun) killed ___(pronoun) ______ (all-caps noun, two words) even though the whole reason for the murder was moot? you don't countermand that plan and find a different way?

and ____ (proper noun) didn't recognize ANYTHING from ____'s (proper noun) life in that ___ (noun)? presumably, before ____ (proper noun) went all ______ (disparaging slang), they'd ______ (verb, past tense) about their _____ (noun, plural)?? no?

and ____ (proper noun) waited _____ (period of time) before deciding to get ____(adjective)? and ____(verb, past tense) _______ (proper noun) for (noun)? even though _____ (series of facts we are told at the beginning that contradict motive and some math that may or may not be accurate?????????????)

and don't get me started on the psychic love-interest.

"I have a gift for that sort of thing, you know—runs in my family—foresight, premonitions. I see things others do not."

so, he's psychic enough to see the future when it involves cartoon bubble-hearts, but he doesn't see ____ (proper noun) ___ (gerund) on the ____ (noun) as he ____ (verb, present tense) by, either IRL or in a vision? a psychic character is silly enough, a psychic character with so many blind-spots is narratively purposeless.

and THEN—there's a nice little The Silent Patient connection, but he ruins the moment by bashing the reader over the head with it a couple more times to make sure we noticed, lessening the effect of the shared world, and it left me with the same bad-taste reaction as the similarly-shaped ending of Split, which tie-in-reveal is the only cool thing in an otherwise terrible film.

the idea of a group therapist investigating a man who has nurtured a little cultlike group around him is rich with possibility, and the juxtaposition between fosca's ladygroup with henry in mariana's therapy group was so promising:
As soon as any group establishes itself, it always arouses envy and attack—and not just from forces on the outside, those excluded from the group, but also from dark and dangerous forces within the group itself.

but the execution is so weak—subplots fizzle out, lackluster red herrings (henry-ings?) are dropped unexplored in order to deliver the most ridiculous explanation of all time with no regard for the tradition of fair play in mystery novels.

i could do this all day—i haven't even touched upon the postcards, or the on-the-nose focus on revenge tragedies, but i've already gone on so long here that i'm running out of review-space, despite cutting out so many tirade-tangents i don't even know if what's left of the review makes sense anymore, and i've spent so much time rereading chunks of the book to make sure i'm not missing anything that makes the book make sense, and i'm just getting hot and cranky and i want this to be over.

this book is getting a lot of positive reviews, and i'm happy for those readers who enjoyed it, but i can't help wondering if maybe the ARC-version i read went through extensive revisions before its final draft because what i read doesn't feel like the product of a three-years-writing-and-revising follow-up to a runaway-success debut novel.

The Secret History? more like weak-ret history.

got a postcard in the mail yesterday...

directing me to a website with this message:

and i cannot wait. three cheers for intriguing marketing strategies!!!

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Natalie.
512 reviews70 followers
June 5, 2021
Where do I begin....

It may only be April, but put this down as the biggest letdown of the year for me. This simply did not work for me almost from the get-go and features so many problems that I'm shocked this is coming from the same author as The Silent Patient. While this will no doubt be a bestseller due to TSP's momentum and fandom, proceed with caution and severely tempered expectations if you're diving into this one.

The premise of a secret society of Maidens was intriguing. The intersection between psychology and Greek mythology and tragedy is definitely alluring and could have been wickedly addicting and darkly entertaining, but alas, Michaelides took things in a different direction entirely.

Given Michaelides' familiarity with the psychology and psychotherapy fields, I found his use of psychology and group therapy in this book incredibly troubling, bordering on disrespectful, and downright dangerous in its perpetuation of the myth that psychopaths are made in childhood. Specifically, that a lack of warmth, love, and validation combine to create those we see as monsters capable of brutal violence, often towards women. This is a point greatly discussed and contended within the psychology field and comes rife with assumptions and judgment, often toward female caregivers. And yet, while making that statement, our MC, Mariana, finds herself with moments of deep compassion and empathy for the murderer, even going so far as blaming the victim he murdered as "provoking" him and making excuses for this violence by characterizing it as the actions of "a terrified child inside [who just] lashed out; and reached for a knife." The characterization of the murder itself continues the dialogue that women are responsible for the behaviors of men and that men, when acting out in violence, are reacting to a provocation. As children, they cannot be held accountable.

Instances like these make it very clear this is a male author attempting to write female characters and fundamentally lacking any insight into the truths and fears of women. It is glaringly apparent Michaelides struggled to truly understand women and how they think and behave; their fears and motivators, and relegated them to orbiting around men and their influence.

Other aspects where psychology was done a disservice include Mariana's treatment of her group therapy clients, the lack of boundaries between herself and her clients, and the violation of ethics in failing to report or provide counsel and resources when one of her patients exhibits self-harm and violent tendencies and behaviors that clearly illustrate mental health issues and a deteriorating condition. This included stalking, emotional outbursts, and threats to continue self-harming or harm Mariana. Mariana also uses her psychotherapy credentials to lie her way into an active crime investigation where seemingly the cops are all too willing to look the other way? It's a gross violation of her privileges and during her violation of the investigation, she fails time and again to provide any psychotherapy help or resources to individuals she encounters who clearly need mental health assistance, are in danger themselves or exhibit potentially harmful behavior towards her (i.e. more stalking). And again, Mariana is a group therapist - she doesn't work and isn't licensed as an individual therapist, so I wasn't able to suspend my belief that she would even be helpful to the investigation anyway.

Those troubling aspects aside, from a fundamental development level, the plot never felt fully fleshed out and the characters felt like caricatures. The characters were monstrously overworked yet somehow super forgettable. I had trouble remembering each male character and often forget about them until Mariana ran into them and they gave her creepy serial killer vibes all over again. Seemingly every man introduced seemed to scream I AM A CREEP, SUSPECT ME. They all make her uncomfortable, they're all trying too hard to be close to her, several actually STALK her (which we never discuss???), and yet somehow we're to believe Mariana has got this all handled and has no concerns over all the suspicious men circling her. Honestly, the ploy to make them all red herrings was so obvious it was cringey. Zoe never really felt like her own character, rather it felt like her purpose was just to be a convenient person for Mariana to walk around campus with and sometimes talk to instead of trying to 'solve' the crime through her own rambling internal monologues.

The ending is where every flaw, loose end, and half-baked idea truly shows.

For the blatant disrespectful handling of psychology, mental health, pedophilia, rape, and grooming, this is not a book I would feel comfortable recommending.

Thank you Celadon books for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,605 reviews10.7k followers
June 9, 2023
Mariana Andros is a dedicated Group Therapist who knows first-hand how difficult recovering from trauma can be. Therefore, she exhibits a great deal of empathy towards her many clients.

Due to a large inheritance, Mariana doesn't need to work, however she continues her practice because she enjoys helping others.

Sadly, Mariana has lost almost everyone she has ever loved. In fact, the only family she has left is her niece, Zoe, currently a student at Cambridge University.

That's why when Zoe calls her one night, extremely distraught, Mariana boards a train as soon as she can the next morning; she must go help.

Arriving in Cambridge stirs up a lot of memories for Mariana. She attended school there as well and wasn't prepared for the emotional repercussions of being back on campus.

Mariana tries to push her emotions aside, however, to focus on Zoe. Apparently, the dead body found the previous evening has been identified as Zoe's good friend. It is obvious the girl has been murdered.

After lengthy conversations with Zoe, Mariana begins to suspect that Edward Fosca, a popular and captivating Greek Tragedy Professor, may in fact be the culprit.

He has an alibi, but not one that Mariana considers to be reliable; his secret society of young women students, known as The Maidens, could easily lie to protect him.

Mariana successfully inserts herself into the investigation, putting herself on a collision course with the undeniably charming, Professor Fosca.

The Maidens is compulsively readable. Once I started, I could not put it down!

I loved how Michaelides wove together all of the different aspects of this story. I thought it was wonderfully-crafted and it absolutely kept me engaged throughout. I had to remind myself to come up for air!

The setting of Cambridge was extremely vivid. It starts as this beautiful, pristine and exclusive place. Then over the course of the narrative, a dark underbelly becomes exposed as Mariana digs further into the mystery.

I loved that. So is life, am I right? You never know what's hiding under the surface.

Additionally, Mariana had such depth. I loved learning about her and watching her try to push past her own anxieties in order to help Zoe.

She became laser-focused in her search for the truth and I was cheering her on the whole way. I wouldn't say she is overly likable, in the traditional sense, but I certainly found her to be believable.

I could swoon about this book for days, but I will spare you that and wrap up by saying, I loved this!

I thought it was so fun, super entertaining and memorable. The setting, the characters, the twists and turns; it is WICKED!!!

I actually think I enjoyed this more than The Silent Patient, and that's saying a lot. I cannot wait to see what Michaelides comes up with next.

Thank you so, so, so much to the publisher, Celadon Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate it more than I can say. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year!!!

Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,301 reviews43.9k followers
May 11, 2023
2.5 stars: ta ta ta ta here comes my unpopular review alert!

Yes, I disappointed! Yes, I was truly expecting something earth shattering, soul crushing, mind bending, grey cell fryer, unputdownable!

What went so wrong with me?
-one dimensional, very dislikable characterization
-too many plot holes bigger than the cracks in my head!
-Slow, flat, boring beginning
-Too much unnecessary misdirection about the identity of the murder even though it’s so obvious from the beginning
-Meeting with the one of the most useless and miserable investigation team who are always three steps behind a psychiatrist who knows nothing about murder investigation

The things I liked:
Short, easy to read chapters

Returning back to same universe where Silent Patient’s story executed( could third book be a crossover! Fingers crossed!)

Academic murder mystery premise with Greek mythology vibes

Delicious Cambridge atmosphere, detailed depictions about the surroundings which takes us virtual vacation to this epic, historical place!

Some parts of the final revelation is also well executed even though there are still so many questions in my head which are still not satisfyingly answered!

Storyline: when I read the blurb which informs us this is claustrophobic, enigmatic, mythology, dark murder mystery about young women students who were brutally killed as a part of a ritual, I was so excited about this interesting premise.

But our meeting with a group of women students called Maidens which is conducted by their narcissistic, flirting professor Edward Fosca took too long! We lost so much time with inner turmoil of heroine: her sadness, grief, her depression etc.

After being introduced to our sad, grieving heroine Mariana Andros, we observed one of her group session and met with her obsessed passion Henry who might be watching and stalking her day and night. Then we learn her tragic past: She lost everyone in her life: including her parents, sister and her beloved husband which makes her think she’s punished by the gods of wrath!

Her niece Zoe who is her only family member, a student At Cambridge calls her to inform her close friend might be missing. When Mariana decides to check on her niece by taking a trip to the university where she has been also a student and met her husband, she realizes there’s a murder investigation and her niece is right. Her close friend Tara is brutally murder.

Mariana decides to console her niece, spending more time at the place by conducting her own investigation. Her number one suspect is professor Edward Fonseca who might be the lover of the victim and he’s also finder of mysterious Maidens group. Tara was also the member of this group and unfortunately she was not the only one brutally killed! Somebody is after the maidens and he/ she is adamant to finish what he/she started!

Overall: I’m rounding up 2.5 stars to 3 not so satisfied, it could be so much better, but there’s still interesting and intriguing premise of the story made me finish it stars!

I wish I was one of the admirers of this book but I missed the author’s claustrophobic, intense, brilliant mind games, psychological, distorted, smart twists and gripping writing style he performed at Silent Patient!

Third one is the charm! I think his next work will be so much better!

So many thanks to Macmillan Reading Insiders club for providing me this readers’ advance copy in exchange my honest opinions.

Profile Image for Yun.
521 reviews21.7k followers
September 18, 2023
They say you always chase your first high. And that's the way it is with me and Alex Michaelides. His first book The Silent Patient is one of my all-time favorites. I still remember the visceral experience of reading that book—the headiness of an unputdownable thriller, the gut punch of that reveal. It's seared into my memory.

So it's no wonder every mystery/thriller I've picked up since then, that is the experience I'm hoping for. And now Alex Michaelides has come out with his second book. Of course my expectations are immense. I want the high of his first book again.

So did The Maidens deliver? Yes, but not to the tune of The Silent Patient.

Mariana is called to Cambridge when her niece Zoe's closest friend is brutally murdered. Mariana soon realizes that this idyllic campus of higher learning conceals something sinister lurking beneath the surface. The dead girl was a member of The Maidens, a secret society of beautiful female students led by the charismatic Professor Fosca. Mariana immediately suspects Fosca and becomes obsessed with proving his guilt. She must stop him before more innocent lives are lost.

This story feels unusual and intriguing right off the bat. Its use of Greek mythology adds this creepy and almost otherworldly atmosphere to the tale. Every page is permeated with an ominous foreboding, as if misfortune could befall at any moment, and it made for a most unsettling and tantalizing read.

We are introduced to a small but interesting cast of characters, all harboring secrets and puttering around in their own suspicious behaviors. As the story progresses, I can't help but take each person, mull over their actions and try to suss out their true intentions. For me, this deliberation of each character is one of the most entertaining parts of reading a murder mystery.

However, it did take me a while to warm up to this story. I found the initial buildup to be on the slow side. There was a fair amount of background information to introduce and also a lot of references to Greek mythology and psychotherapy. But once it got going, the pacing tightened up and I was hooked, all the way until the very end. And what a fun ending it was.

But to enjoy this story, it's important to go in with the right expectations, namely that it's no The Silent Patient. How could it be, right? What are the chances you would write a book—your first book—and have it be hailed by many as the greatest thriller ever, then write another book and have it be the greatest again? Pretty much none (no offense to Alex Michaelides). This doesn't have the compulsive readability of his first book nor the jaw-dropping reveal, but I still found it to be an entertaining thriller in its own right.

Recently, I decided to read The Maidens again. There were so many negative reviews of this book, I wondered if I imagined my enjoyment of it. But no, I enjoyed it just as much on the second go-around. I happily chomped it up over a few fun-filled hours.

At this point, I can safely put Alex Michaelides on my list of must-read authors. There is something about his writing and his stories that just draws me in, and I'm always left surprised in the best ways possible. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

See also, my thoughts on:
The Silent Patient

Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
April 28, 2021
I need to start by saying Michaelides's The Silent Patient was totally my thing a couple of years back. I know the author didn't exactly do anything unique with that book, but I found it an impossible-to-put-down kind of psychological thriller. The writing kept me on the edge of my seat and I enjoyed the twists and turns.

And, to be fair, for a while The Maidens gave me a similar feeling. Maybe not quite as compelling as the author's debut, but I've discovered I really like the way Michaelides weaves just the right amount of literature, art, and Greek tragedy references into his murder mysteries. For me, it's more Dan Brown level hidden messages and puzzle-solving than, say, The Secret History, but if you're looking for a pageturner, that's hardly a bad thing.

This one sees Mariana Andros going back to Cambridge, her alma mater, when a friend of her niece is murdered on campus. Initially going for support, Mariana stumbles into an isolated world of charismatic professors, exclusive groups of beautiful students, and a whole lot of tragedy. The general kind, as well as the Greek.

I liked Mariana, who was dealing with her own grief behind the scenes. What I didn't like was the direction the book took in the later chapters. For one thing, I was fairly convinced early on that I had figured out the culprit, and I was right. But more than this, what came out as the reason behind everything was so baffling and out of left field that I was disappointed by it. I also just really dislike when

I'll still read whatever the author writes next, but this one wasn't as satisfying as I'd hoped.
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews939 followers
Want to read
May 30, 2019

This could literally be IKEA assembly instructions written in Swahili using the Vivaldi font and I'd still read it.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
July 6, 2021
i see dark academia and i come running.

this is one of my most anticipated releases for the year and im so relieved it didnt let me down. i honestly inhaled this. AM is the master of short chapters. he truly understands how to get readers to say, ‘just one more and then i will go to bed.’ and then all of the sudden the story is over in the blink of an eye - thats how much the content and pacing hooked me. i loved the greek mythology and poetry, i loved the old-fashioned cambridge vibes, and i loved how those created the most compelling of mysteries.

also, holy crap. when theo from ‘the silent patient’ appeared, i screamed. i absolutely love when authors have characters from their other books have cameos. it makes the reading experience so much more fun and totally has me wanting to pick up ‘the silent patient’ again.

the only thing that really bothered me about this book, though, are the interactions between the MC and men. honestly, there are four separate male characters who throw themselves at her. but of course, she ‘doesnt know how beautiful she is (this is mentioned more than once - major eye roll),’ so she declines their advances and they either A) get very angry and offended by it, or B) they wont take no for an answer and consistently pester her. not to mention all of these interactions could be removed from the book with no consequence - i have no idea what purpose they serve. one time i could overlook, but multiple occurrences is just very poor characterisation and bad writing.

putting that aside, this book truly does deserve the hype its getting. with intriguing ritualistic murders to engaging literary influences, this is a great sophomore novel for AM.

4 stars
Profile Image for Warda.
1,205 reviews19.7k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
July 20, 2021
No thriller novel has a right to be this boring.

I enjoyed The Silent Patient. God knows what happened with this book though.

There was nothing compelling about this story even though it tried to be. There were no thrilling aspect. The mystery was boring. I could not care less that these women were dying nor did I want to figure out who the killer was.
The characters in here felt contrived and stereotypical. Basically, you can tell a man wrote it.
I did not understand what compelled the main character to play detective. There was nothing in it for her.

I wish the Greek mythological elements were expanded upon. Or maybe they were and I won’t know since I stopped halfway.
As well as the group therapy element Mariana was supposedly heavily involved in. The come-about of the Maidens. Mariana’s relationship with Zoe. The trauma she’s suffered from her husbands death.

The actual damn mystery itself.

I enjoyed the writing style but even that was ruined for me.
It was trying to do too much. The book lost its focus and so did I.

I’m annoyed. 😑

DNF at pg. 227.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,480 reviews79k followers
November 1, 2022
"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."
-C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

3.5 stars

I've decided to round my rating up a star, if for no reason other than I cannot stop thinking about this book and it got me out of a major reading slump. I wasn't as dazzled by The Silent Patient as most readers, yet as a debut it was undeniably entertaining and well crafted. The author has completely changed courses with his sophomore novel, The Maidens, and traded the world of flashy psychological thrillers for a literary murder mystery. Make no mistake, although this book has a quiet power, its short chapters and oppressive atmosphere are gripping. Academia and crime fiction go together like peanut butter and chocolate, so I think Michaelides has found a sweet spot in this particular sub-genre of suspense.

Was this book perfect? No, but how many of them are, honestly? Yes, it will be too slow of a burn for some readers, especially those expecting a Silent Patient 2.0 type of read, but if you're willing to go into this one with an open mind and a fresh palate, and you enjoy the literary side of crime fiction, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the author's versatility in writing. Here we have a limited third person view, told strictly from Mariana's POV, and this is where I think most of my hesitance in giving the book 5 stars stems from. Third POV has a way of keeping the reader at a distance if we can't experience the story from multiple viewpoints, and I think seeing things play out from various character's experiences would have allowed me to get a little closer to the story and connect on a deeper level to the characters, rather than feeling like we were getting a condensed version of the tale shortened for time's sake.

You will have to suspend your need for a believable, realistic investigation, as Mariana does things in ways that would never fly in real life. However, this made for a constant sense of moving from one scene to the next, which really ramped up the addictive factor for myself as a reader. The culprit might not come as a surprise to many seasoned suspense readers, although I will say it took me longer to figure out this reveal than it did in TSP, and even so I didn't have all the "hows" and "whys" just right, which is exciting. Overall, a quick read, and one that felt as if it brought me back to my original love of UK crime fiction.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
431 reviews4,215 followers
September 26, 2021
This could possibly be my last book review ever....

This book review is being written from a bed at Mayo Clinic. If you follow me, I have been plagued with a mysterious condition this last year and finally have discovered that I have a very dangerous heart problem. The excellent medical team here at Mayo Clinic is struggling to control my erratic heart rhythm, and I experienced a very serious cardiac incident tonight where the red lights were flashing, the alarm was blaring, and every medical professional was urgently paged to my room. There was a heavy ominous, clanging sound approaching my door, the crash cart arriving. It is true what they say about the white light (or maybe that is because I have been exceptionally good in my life). Although I am stable for now, the crash cart is being left outside my door. So with that please don't be upset if I don't respond right away with likes and comments. I promise that I am still as committed as ever about reading and books. These books have been an escape from my sorry excuse for a body.

Alright, end melodrama.

The Maidens was the second book that I read by Alex Michaelides with The Silent Patient being my first. I do agree with other reviewers that The Maidens was not as good as The Silent Patient. It did not have the same page turning quality. However, I very much did enjoy it and probably would have considered rating it 5 stars except for the ending. What did I enjoy? Michaelides does have a strong command of the mystery/thriller genre, and the short chapters kept me especially interested. His use of psychology interwoven with the book gave it an extra depth, a little treat to savor.

Why did I hate the ending so passionately? Well I had to read the last page 3 times to understand what happened. 3 times. Talk about a let down. This is one of the most disappointing endings in my book history. I'm completely OK with open endings, and I actually prefer them in most cases but a confusing ending is not forgivable. I'm utterly gobsmacked that an author as talented as Michaelides would create an ending this horrible.

Well, my friends, it has been my pleasure to have you through this last year. The compassion and kindness of the book community has meant the world to me and carried me through some very dark times. If I do find myself with a pinecone, please continue to be the light out into the world. If not, please leave your list of books you would read if you only had one week left to live. I no longer have the patience for 3-star or less books. And if all else fails, know that I will be thinking warm thoughts for you either in this dimension or the next.
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,193 reviews3,029 followers
June 15, 2021
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

Holy mackerel with a huge pile of red herrings!  The Maidens is set in the same world as The Silent Patient, even allowing us to see a couple of The Silent Patient's characters. Whereas the big twist in The Silent Patient got me, which is very hard to do, The Maidens throws so many suspicious people our way that I suspected everyone of being a murderer. Still, this was an enjoyable story, even as I rolled my eyes throughout the book, as the main character made one irrational decision after another. 

Mariana Andros is a group therapist, still grieving over the death of her husband. She seems to have trouble setting boundaries for herself and her patients. One patient harrasses and stalks her and she quickly meets several men at her old university that scare her yet she puts herself in close proximity to them, even allowing them to pour her drinks that take her past her tipsy limit. She is back at Cambridge University because her niece's good friend has been murdered and she wants to give her niece the support she needs to get through this sad time. 

But once on campus, things are even more dire than the murder of one university student. A popular professor, Edward Fosca, seems to be up to no good, with his followers made up of a secret society of female students. Mariana's niece seems to know a lot more than she will admit to Mariana and soon is Mariana dangerously poking her nose in places that will get her in trouble. She claims she is being careful, when in reality, she is anything but careful or subtle. The story has such a dreamlike, misty quality to it and Mariana is still so damaged by the death of her husband, that her lack of clear thinking seems to fit in with the atmosphere of the story. 

There was no way I could guess who the murderer was because every man seems to have something that might point to him. Everyone speaks in circles and there is a sense of foreboding, as if more is going to happen (and it does). I suspect that there will be more of this world, where The Silent Patient and The Maidens intersect in a third book and I look forward to reading that story. 

Publication: June 15, 2021

Thank you to Macmillan Publishers/Celadon Books and NetGalley for this ARC.
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,107 reviews531 followers
August 17, 2022
Wow: I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook version of The Maidens, read by Louise Brealey and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. Brealey's dramatic reading tone injected a mesmerizing sense of dread and suspense into the narrative, and Holdbrook-Smith's husky tone did an excellent job of creeping me out!

Mariana Andros is in deep mourning: her beloved husband, Sebastian, died a year ago while they were on vacation in Greece.

We watch as Mariana struggles to move on with her life, but one day she receives a panicked call from her niece, Zoe, her only living relative. Zoe is a student at Cambridge, and one of her school friends, Tara, has disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Zoe's fears are confirmed that very evening when Tara's body is found: she had been brutally murdered.

When Mariana arrives at Zoe's college the next day, she is disturbed to discover that the charismatic Professor Edward Fosca has seduced the entire college.

Mariana immediately suspects that Edward Fosca is behind the deaths of several of The Maidens - six young female students who are Fosca's adoring and devoted acolytes. Zoe's friend Tara had been one of those Maidens. Then, almost the very next day, another Maiden is murdered ....

As you would expect from a thriller, there were a ton of red herrings and loads of misdirection in this novel - as well as the potential for two unreliable narrators. The story is told from two alternate points of view: Mariana, in the third person, and a mysterious psychopath who regales us with harrowing recollections of his abusive childhood. (That poor dog, and what it revealed about his family dynamic! That was a jaw dropper.)

I have to say, my most favourite character in this novel was young Fred: he just cracked me up and I was rooting for him all the way (but don't count him out as a suspect - just saying!) I'm still chortling with laughter at all of his "moves"- I'd take an apple from him each and every time!

I did briefly suspect the culprit/s - no spoilers here - but I was still gasping with horror and applauding with delight at that action-packed ending.

And despite other Goodreads reviewers' lower ratings for this one, I have to confess that I prefer The Maidens over The Silent Patient. I am not fond of dry, emotionless thrillers. I like stories with messy relationships and the potential for a fresh start. I enjoyed Michaelides's sense of humour and playfulness in this book: Fred's scenes with Mariana introduced a lighter tone in an otherwise fraught and gloomy atmosphere. (I suspect that die-hard thriller fans frowned at this. My Eternally Hopeful/Sentimental Self just cheered instead!!)

Fate and Nature were also given character roles in this story. Fred's uncanny premonitions, the staring swan, Mariana's repeated supplications to the implacable Demeter, and the sudden storm that erased Sebastian from her life - it was as if man and Nature were in battle with one another, and for once, although Mariana would not have believed it, the Gods were on her side.

I'm rating this one a 5 out of 5 because I was truly entertained.
My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
(P.S. I have now listened to the audio version of the The Silent Patient. I had to increase my rating for that one because the audiobook was so well done, but I still prefer The Maidens! I suspect that if more reviewers had listened to the audiobook, The Maidens would have a much higher rating. This would make a great movie! )
P.P.S: Just read an online interview Michaelides did recently: The Maidens has in fact been optioned for a movie! I, for one, will definitely be in line to watch it! The audiobook was spellbinding, so imagine what the movie will do to me! Plus, I can't wait to see who plays Fred - I loved that guy!)
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
383 reviews1,766 followers
June 15, 2021
Mariana just knew that Edward Fosca was a murderer. Edward Tosca was guilty but she just couldn't prove it and she might never be able to prove it. She thought he was a monster and she didn't want him to walk free. He thinks he got away with it, she thought. He thought he had won but Mariana was determined to outsmart him and she will catch him.

Zoe's phone call after the Monday Evening Group was how it all started. That is how the nightmare began. Zoe was her niece and Mariana is a group therapist.

Edward Fosca is a charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University. All the staff and students love him, especially a group of female students called The Maidens. When Mariana receives Zoe's phone call she finds out that one of the maidens, who is Zoe's friend, was murdered in Cambridge. Mariana is determined to stop the murderer even if it costs her everything including her own life.

It took me awhile to get into the story but once I got into it I felt like I was captivated. The book is filled with red herrings and some Greek mythology. I thought it was atmospheric and written very well. I loved the short chapters. There are a lot of unlikable characters. I loved most of the book and the ending surprised me but it didn't work very well for me. I loved the author's book, The Silent Patient and I loved this one too. This one was a five star book for me until I reached the ending.
I want to thank the publisher, Macmillan for the ARC of The Maidens by Alex Michaelides in exchange for an honest review.

Now Available!!
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,309 reviews120k followers
May 26, 2022
It felt as if a kind of pestilence, a plague, were spreading through the college—like in a Greek myth, the sickness that destroyed Thebes; an invisible airborne poison drifting through the courtyards—and these ancient walls, once a refuge from the outside world, no longer offered any protection.
When Zoe calls her aunt from Cambridge to tell her that her best friend has gone missing, Mariana Andros, a group therapist in London, heads to her alma mater immediately. In no time she has ID’d a likely suspect and proceeds to find out everything she can, hoping, expecting to show that Professor Edward Fosca is a murderer.

Alex Michaelides - image from The Irish Times – photo by Manuel Vazquez

He certainly seems a likely candidate. A gifted teacher of classics, Fosca (This name derives from the Latin “fuscus”, meaning “gloomy, dark, black, (voice) hoarse, hollow, cavernous, (of thoughts) dark, secret, occult” - uh, oh - from name-doctor.com) has a Svengali-ish charm. He has assembled around him a small cult, female students who dress alike, attend private instruction with him, and who knows what else? They are known as The Maidens. Zoe’s friend, Tara, had been a member. They, under the leadership of Fosca, are into an ancient cult that was particularly focused on the line between life and death.
Mariana couldn’t help but feel a little skeptical—her background in group therapy told her, as a rule, to be suspicious of any group in love with a teacher; those situations rarely ended well.
But, Mariana may not be in the best frame of mind to take this all on. We would expect that a trained psychotherapist would be a good judge of people, but looking at the world from behind the veil of her grief, gives us cause to question her judgements. She is still mourning the loss of her beloved husband, Sebastian, who had drowned a year ago, while they were vacationing on the island of Nexos, a vacation she had pushed him to take. Guilt much?

Tarquin and Lucretia - image from Wikimedia

Michaelides offers us a list of alternate suspects. Among them are a dodgy university porter, an obsessed patient of Mariana’s, the Maidens themselves, and a young man who seems particularly enamored of Mariana, persists in wooing her, and who claims an ability to foresee things.

Mariana picks up some collateral support, including a former mentor still at the university, and an erstwhile school chum, who is now consulting with the police. He offers her access to investigation intel, over the objections of his superior, DI Sangha, in the seemingly-mandatory dickish cop role.

Tennyson - image from The Daily Mail

There are some of the elements of a cozy here, the amateur sleuth, with a friend on the force, the violence taking place off-screen, local sources that help one suss out the landscape, and quirky secondary characters. But this one is more a thriller, with sharper teeth. It features an undercurrent of dread well beyond the mystery of a simple whodunit. The violence, even though we get no front seat to it, is biting. No Miss Marple, Mariana is not merely an outside observer, but a participant in this drama. And a potential victim.
I thought a lot about the secretive nature of groups as I was writing - especially within Cambridge. There are groups within groups. I studied group therapy myself, that's what I specialize in. It all goes back to the classic mysteries that I love, from authors like Agatha Christie: Everything is always set in an enclosed location, like an isolated house, a train, a private island. Cambridge is similar.
Trinity College - image from The Maidenssociety.com

Tennyson comes in for multiple mentions. Greek mythology figures large and Mariana even finds herself succumbing to a bit of atavistic religiosity at times. The mythology that permeates the novel is a particularly fun element, offering an incentive to crank up the search engine of one’s choice and dig in a bit. You may or may not recall the ups and downs of Demeter and Persephone, but there are some other items from ancient Greek stories that I bet you never heard of. It is always fun to learn these things. Michaelides grew up on Cyprus where, he says, Greek mythology was in the air. The old stories were part of general cultural knowledge, with the old plays being regularly restaged, like how we generate new films of Spiderman or Jane Austen novels here.

Return of Persephone, by Leighton – image from Holographical Archetypes

Additional spice is provided by seven chapters that offer a psycho-side view of the world, an ongoing battle-royale between the dark side and the fading light. Is this our killer? Michaelides has a background in psychology, specifically group therapy, so writes strongly about both psychopathology, and treatment.

He was a screenwriter for twenty years before his first novel, The Silent Patient, was published to huge success. The lessons he learned from that experience translate into a fast-paced read, strong on visual flair, with excellent atmospherics and tension-building. We can easily engage with our lead. Mariana seems a decent sort. She has suffered a terrible loss, which increases our sympathy for her. It is not hard to root for her to ferret out the killer, and to remain alive.

Leda and the Swan, date unknown, by Franz Russ the Younger (1844-1906) - image from the site Mara, Marietta

There were a few things that bothered me in the book. How could Seb, who was fit and a good swimmer be drowned by a stormy sea? Surely, he knew his limits. Why would anyone go to dinner at the private rooms of a suspected murderer and not tell anyone where they were going? Most significantly there are two characters involved in a major plot twist at the end. While there were some breadcrumbs established for one of them, it seemed to me that the hints re the other were sorely lacking.

That said, the bottom line is that The Maidens is a fun read, a real page-turner that will get your blood pumping, and offer an opportunity to refresh, or learn for the first time, some fascinating Greek mythology.
Death was no stranger to Mariana; it had been her traveling companion since she was a child—keeping close behind her, hovering just over her shoulder. She sometimes felt she had been cursed as if by some malevolent goddess in a Greek myth, to lose everyone she ever loved.

Review posted – June 25, 2021

Publication dates
----------Hardcover – June 15, 2021
----------Trade paperback - May 24, 2022

I received an ARE of The Maidens from Celadon in return for an honest review and some small blood sacrifices. Really, there is no need to involve the police.

Thanks, too, to MC for encouraging the gods and goddesses of ARE distribution on my behalf.

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s FB, Instagram, GR, and Twitter pages

-----Good Morning America - video 3:24
-----Entertainment Weekly - Alex Michaelides on the most unsettling elements of The Maidens by Seija Rankin
-----The Irish Times - ‘I asked myself what Agatha Christie would do, and what she hadn’t already done’
-----Barnes and Noble - Agatha Christie, Sleight of Hand, and Psychological Complexity: An Interview with The Silent Patient Author Alex Michaelides - by Jeff Somers – Obviously mostly focused on Michaelides’ earlier book, but there is material in here that is relevant to this book as well

Items of Interest from the author
-----Criminal Element - The Five Best Plot Twists in Fiction
-----Criminal Element - The Five Best Movies Adapted from Thrillers

Items of Interest
----- Eleusinian Mysteries and Psychedelic Enlightenment
-----Wiki on Eleusinian Mysteries
-----Greeking.Me - Demeter, the Lady of Eleusis - there is a nice summary in here of Demeter and Persephone’s difficult situation
-----Greek Legends and Myths - Leda and Zeus in Greek Mythology
-----Tennyson’s poem - Mariana
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
December 22, 2022
I'm all for unlikable characters, but miss Mariana had me wanting to hit my head against a wall. :) Pair that with an underwhelming ending and this book landed in forgettable territory with me.
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,188 reviews2,250 followers
June 15, 2021
In "The Silent Patient", artist Alicia Berenson stopped speaking after shooting her husband in the face 5 times. Her only explanation, a self portrait, titled Alcestis-after the tragic heroine of the Greek Tragedy, by Euripides.

Author Alex Michaelides, revisits the Greek Tragedies again, with his sophomore novel, "The Maidens".

The nightmare begins with a phone call.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant, but troubled group therapist, grieving the loss of her beloved husband, Sebastian, when her niece, Zoe, calls from Cambridge where she is a student-afraid that her close friend, Tara may have been murdered.

When the body is found, it resembles the death of a Greek Goddess.

Tara had just confided in Zoe, that their Greek Tragedy Professor, Edward Fosca, had threatened to kill her. But, the investigators do not believe what Zoe has to say.

After all, the charismatic teacher is adored by all-his lectures drawing large crowds, of zealous followers, who often erupt in applause when he is finished speaking.

And, he has an alibi-6 students who claim to have been revising with him until 10 PM-6 beautiful, favored women, referred to as "The Maidens".

It isn't possible that they would all lie for him, is it?

Another body is found, yet another Greek Tragedy depicted.

Mariana is determined to outwit the Professor, to protect Zoe, but this may be her biggest challenge yet.

After reading several tepid reviews for this one, I was hesitant to begin, but I found the traditions of Cambridge fascinating!

Students drinking and debating with their professors, private gardens and dining rooms, student rooms with fireplaces and "bedders" who take care of them.

I was googling the "The Eagle", the oldest Pub in Cambridge, and the RAF bar, so I could picture the graffiti covered ceilings, described.

I envisioned the misty, cobblestoned streets, and the echoing footsteps following Mariana.

The story is a literary mystery, exploring the psyche, and Greek Mythology, with a few murders thrown in.

A bit of a slow burn-but never boring for me, with short chapters which moved things along.

But, where the ending of "The Silent Patient" was extremely satisfying for me, this one, though surprising, took a turn I did not care for at all.

And, there were a couple of loose ends..
What I thought could be 5 stars, became 4.

Still, I love the author's writing, and will be auto-requesting all future work!

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Family Dog Killed, Slaughter of Sheep described

Thank You to Celadon Books for my gifted copy!
It was my pleasure to provide a candid review!

Profile Image for Regina.
1,136 reviews3,322 followers
June 16, 2021
There’s a justifiable amount of buzz swirling around Alex Michaelides’s sophomore novel, The Maidens, given the success of his 2019 debut, The Silent Patient. Said buzz (and early reviews) made me wonder a few things before I even cracked it open, so as an act of public service I’m sharing my pre-read Q’s with my post-read A’s.

Q: Do you have to read The Silent Patient beforehand? Or in my case, if you have read it, do you need to remember anything about it?
A: Not really, though you’ll miss out on some things if you don’t. I'd suggest at least reviewing a plot summary of TSP to bring yourself up to speed.

Q: Do you need to be familiar with Greek mythology beforehand, since it plays a central role in the storyline?
A: Nope! Everything is explained (maybe even in a little too much detail for those who already know Persephone, “The Maiden,” is Queen of the Underworld).

Q: What’s this I hear about animals being harmed?
A: There are separate scenes of sheep and a family dog being slaughtered.

Q: Will I like it more than The Silent Patient?
A: Probably not. It stands pretty well on its own, but the odds of it exceeding high expectations aren’t great. As with any thriller, your overall enjoyment will come down to if you see the twists coming and find the ending satisfying. I personally was surprised by the big reveals and thus appreciated the novel’s conclusion. I’m looking forward to seeing what this author does next.

I received advance copies of the book and audiobook courtesy of Orion Publishing Group and Macmillan Audio, respectively, via NetGalley. Both formats are recommended.

Blog: https://www.confettibookshelf.com/
IG: @confettibookshelf
Profile Image for myo ⋆。˚ ❀ *.
818 reviews6,844 followers
October 17, 2022
going into this book i thought it was just “okay” i thought it was going to be predictable and it was like reading a dark academia book but instead of following a student it followed an outsider, i thought i already knew what was going to happen but the book kind of plays on that. if you read dark academia a lot, you think that you know what’s going to happen in this book but honestly you don’t and that’s the best part. the plot twist in this book was so great. it literally made me gasp out loud.
Profile Image for Emma.
986 reviews1,000 followers
April 5, 2021
This is one of those books riding the coattails of its betters. Recently, there have been a ton of fictional books aiming to incorporate or rework some part of the Ancient world, from Natalie Haynes to Pat Barker to Kamila Shamsie and more. However, this is something else entirely. It certainly has neither the power of Greek myth nor the quality of Secret History. It doesn’t even hit the acceptable levels for a decent modern thriller. In fact, it is PAINFULLY bad. The plodding, simplistic style. The stilted, unnatural conversations. The apparently profound moments. The stereotyping of every character worsened by ridiculous descriptions, ‘despite all this trauma, Henry was a remarkably intelligent person’. Wtf has trauma got to do with intelligence? The whole thing is like this.

I usually read everything with a Classics foundation, but no.

ARC via Netgalley

A snippet:

He lowered his voice. ‘But Mariana. Listen. Fosca must know you’re onto him, so...’
‘Don’t worry, I’m being careful’
‘Good’. [name] paused. ‘There’s only one more thing to say’. He grinned. ‘You look incredibly, stunningly beautiful tonight... will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?’
‘No’. Mariana shook her head. ‘I won’t. But thanks for the chips’.
‘You’re welcome’
‘Good night’
They smiled at each other. Then Mariana turned and walked away. At the end of the street, still smiling, she glanced back - but [...] had gone.
Funny that- he seemed to have vanished.
Profile Image for Holly  B .
849 reviews2,012 followers
April 21, 2021
Maybe a 2.5 / Some will enjoy it more than me, I'm sure. Thanks to the publisher for my advanced copy! OUT on June 15, 2021

A handsome Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University forms a special group of students he calls "The Maidens". When one of the girls is murdered, all fingers point to Professor Fosca.

This is Alex Michaelide's sophomore book, and I had some high expectations. I have to say this one never "took off" for me. A rather gruesome murder mystery, with dramatic characters that seemed too over the top. I didn't care for any of them either.

This one was lacking on many fronts in my opinion. warning Animal abuse/death
Profile Image for GirlWithThePinkSkiMask.
466 reviews2,000 followers
February 11, 2023
1.5 rounded down

Writing: 3/5 | Plot: 1/5 | Ending: see ya never/5


When Mariana's niece calls her from Cambridge University after her friend, Tara, is brutally murdered, the psychotherapist makes it her personal mission to find out who the killer is.


Fair warning, I'm a bit sick (not miss rona thankfully) so this may be more incoherent than usual LOL. Anyways, the streets said this book was trashola, but as a masochist I had to see for myself. And like Verity, curiosity kicked me in the ass 🫣

I really can't get into this properly, will full saltitude, without spoilers. So here's my brief non-spoilie feedback: started off strong with great psychological insights, but once Mariana travelled to Cambridge, the plot crumbled like feta cheese. Absolute trash. Next, Mariana has to be one of the top 3 dumbest characters I've encountered this year, giving Shay from The Last Housewife a run for her money. I never thought I'd be more annoyed with a psychologist than Dr. Avery, but I think Mariana truly takes the cake. It's actually an embarrassment to the profession. And lastly, we have the writing. Very much meh, as my 3/5 indicates. Michaelides has the odd habit of saying something twice, see below:

"...Boundaries make us feel safe. Boundaries are what therapy is about." Henry looked at her blankly. Mariana knew he didn't understand. Boundaries, by definition, are the first thing to go when a child is abused. All Henry's boundaries had been torn to shreds when he was just a little boy. Consequently, he didn't understand the concept. Clock the he didn't understand x2

Zoe, in fact, was only a quarter Greek. She had her father's fair coloring and his blue eyes—so it didn't particularly show, this quarter Greekness. ....Tell us one more time, is she a quarter or just a third Greek???

Ok, now that we've covered the basics, let's get into it...


SooooOOOOO??? Where to start LOL. Let's talk about how Michaelides and anyone who laid eyes on this book before it was published failed to do even the smallest amount of research into proper police procedures. Yes, this isn't a police procedural, but c'mon, Detective Pikachu is more accurate than this. I can tell homeboy hasn't even watched a lil CSI or SVU in his lifetime. This was truly atrocious. Here are some highlights:

- Zoe accuses Fosca of being the murderer, and detective dumbass leaves the room, comes back and is like well in 30 mins I managed to interview Fosca and two students, thereby eliminating him as a suspect and btw I will never be charging him with anything so good day to you.

- Forensics? Never heard of her. When Mariana finally coughs up the postcards, Detective Dumbass just shuffled 'em around like they were about to play Go Fish. Fingerprinting? Nah. Ok, cool. No worries. We've got Mariana on the case anyways. No need.

- Idk what super powers their coroner had, but unless they were present while the stabbing occurred, they cannot determine an EXACT time of death. In no world, can they be like, yep she took her last breath at exactly 10pm EST. It's always a window. And then of course the size of that window depends on environmental factors, etc. Again, I'm not expecting a non-police procedural to be super accurate, but this is basic stuff that should be picked up by an editor.

- Then near the end, Mariana spills da beans in an interview of sorts with the whole Scooby gang there. Yep, Detective Dummy, Fosca, Julian, and even the dean, all gathered round to hear Scooby's theory and watch her confront the main suspect.

Another great group scene was when Mariana magically finagled The Maidens (lol at this whole ting) for a group therapy sesh including Fosca. Amazing! Seems very likely to happen! Loved the "discreet" allusions about Fosca being their surrogate daddy; Don from The Last Housewife has entered the chat 😂.

But what does Mariana know about being discreet? She galavants around town sharing her suspicions with everyone and anyone: Fred, the clumsy creeper from the train, Clarissa her old teacher, and of course her niece Zoe. Anyone but the police of course! Oh and of course everyone she spoke to, like Shay from The Last Housewife, coughed up all the info immediately, no qualms or queries. Bah ouais. Omg and when she found another mysterieux postcard and literally thinks I need to talk to someone, but who????? Girl if you don't fking call the police immediately!!!!! What do you mean who?????? How about pull your head out of your ass and get back to reality? Tysm.

I'm always looking for a thriller with a psychologist because I find the perspective so fascinating when it's done correctly (like Cabin Fever), but I've been burned soooo many times. After she arrived in Cambridge, it's like Mariana completely forgot she's a trained psychotherapist. She behaved more like a petulant teenager than a grown ass adult with an above average understanding of human behaviour. Why the entire fuck would you go to Fosca's home, at night, and consume multiple glasses of wine, all the while thinking he's a murderer??? Darwinism.

I also wonder if Ashley Winstead was inspired by this book. The Maidens and Tongue Cut Sparrow were clearly inspired by the cult of Eleusis, which in this book is described as a group of people meeting in a basement, tripping balls, hoping to feel like a god/goddess. I don't even want to get into how Fosca convinced these girls to join his cult, or how it went on for so long because the math did not mathulate on any level, but I guess that's what The Last Housewife is for LOL.

Ok I seriously need to cut myself off LOL. But I just have to ask, what was the point of Henry? To add some spooky vibes? Don't worry, Mariana's sheer dumbassery was spooky enough for me. Sorry, one last thing: the ending. LFMOAKOANFKANF the twist??? Untwist it, please. And Theo making an appearance??? Just... *sigh*


Pros: strong start

Cons: ...... don't make me type another 2000+ characters 😂
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,705 reviews25k followers
May 12, 2021
Alex Michaelides follows the success of The Silent Patient with this chillingly atmospheric story that draws on Greek mythology and tragedies set in the beautiful city of Cambridge and the sinister and menacing events that occur at the fictional St Christopher's College with its ancient buildings, rituals and traditions. 36 year old Mariana Andros is a brilliant group therapist laid low by the continuing grief at the loss of her husband, Sebastian. She travels to Cambridge to be with her niece, Zoe, a student at the university, after her friend, Tara, goes missing and is discovered murdered. Zoe is far more than a niece, she is practically Mariana's daughter, and she feels that the charismatic and hugely popular Greek History Professor Edward Fosca is responsible for the murder.

However, the dazzling Fosca has an alibi, a secret group of beautiful female students known as The Maidens, so surely it was impossible for him to be guilty? Mariana had attended Cambridge herself and memories of the past blur with the present as she threatens to unravel, recklessly pursuing her obsession by investigating Fosca and the murder, treading territory she had been explicitly warned against by the police. There are suspects galore in this darkly intense and beautifully written novel set in academia, with plenty of tension and suspense, and a growing sense of menace right up until the final reveal. This is a compulsive and entertaining read, and The Silent Patient is definitely not forgotten in it. I very much enjoyed this, but I do feel that I should point out that it is not similar to The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Many thanks to Orion for an ARC.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,412 reviews35.2k followers
June 7, 2021
Mariana Andros, a group therapist, receives a phone call from her niece, Zoe informing her that her friend, Tara is missing, and her fears that Tara may have been murdered. Mariana goes to Cambridge to be with her worried niece, to provide support and comfort. When Tara's body is found, Mariana who is still reeling from the death of her husband, becomes convinced that Edward Fosca, the Greek Tragedy professor is responsible.

But Fosca is untouchable. He is one of the most popular professors at Cambridge, his lectures are full, students and staff look up to him and his 'special' study group known as "The Maidens" has provided him with an alibi. When more bodies are found, Mariana becomes obsessed with proving Fosca is the killer despite his alibis.

Throughout the book, readers watch as Mariana attempts to bring down a killer. But are her suspicions correct? Is her grief driving her quest for answers? She appears to take the entire investigation very personally.

There is also an undercurrent of doubt that had me suspecting various characters of being the killer. Speaking of characters, the ones in this book are an interesting bunch. Some likeable, some unlikeable, some odd, some creepy, some arrogant, and some that I did not trust. Plus, there is a nice little tie in to The Silent Patient in this.

There is a lot of talk of Greek mythology, but I did not find it to be overwhelming, in fact, I enjoyed it. For me, this book started slowly and kept picking up speed as the book progressed. I enjoyed how things unraveled. Of course, there were times, I rolled my eyes and shook my head, but I did not mind. Some saw the ending coming, but I did not.

I look forward to his next book! Curious to see if he will continue to use Greek Mythology in his storytelling.

Thank you to Celadon Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com
Profile Image for Michael David (on hiatus).
656 reviews1,604 followers
June 15, 2021

Cambridge University is a prestigious one that excels at churning out successful students. It also has some of the most well-respected professors...except that one might be a murderer.

That is what Mariana thinks. She is a group therapist living in London, and drops everything when her niece, Zoe, calls her. Zoe’s best friend has been murdered on campus where they are both Cambridge students. Mariana makes her way to the University, where she herself attended years prior.

With bittersweet memories of the college, Mariana quickly learns that Zoe thinks Professor Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. Mariana finds herself agreeing. As an instructor of Greek tragedy, he seems to hone in on a particular story given the circumstances. On top of that, what is up with the secret society he runs...The Maidens?

After another murder takes place, Mariana becomes determined to stop Fosca...and will not stop digging into the investigation...

...no matter what danger she might be putting herself in.
I was a bit nervous about reading The Maidens. First, I wasn’t a big fan of the author’s debut novel, The Silent Patient, and had guessed the ending early on. In addition, I recently finished a novel where Greek Mythology played a part (Madam), and that was not an enjoyable experience...to say the least.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. This mystery kept me engaged the entire time, and while Greek Mythology plays a role, it didn’t bore me. Nor did it try to suffocate my tender brain. 🧠 The progression of suspense is a bit slow at times, but I never noticed while actively reading. The writing is a bit simple, leaving the characters mostly one dimensional. There was nobody I particularly cared about, and yet the words flowed effortlessly with some nice atmosphere. It’s also a quick read with short chapters.

As for the ending, I suspected part of it at one point or another, but was genuinely surprised by another aspect of it. That was a treat! There is also a brief tie-in to The Silent Patient that I thought was really clever.

Maybe it has to do with expectations, but Alex Michaelides’ sophomore effort is a win for me, and better than its predecessor. I’ll be looking forward to his next one.

3.5 stars rounded up.

TW: Brief animal harm in two sections.

Thank you so much to DeAnn, who kindly sent me a copy of the physical ARC. Also thanks to Celadon Books and NetGalley, who sent me a digital ARC afterwards, in exchange for an honest review.

Review also posted at: https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Kat (semi-hiatus until October).
241 reviews662 followers
May 27, 2021
Not sure what’s up with my reading habits lately, but my last three have been The Mix-Up, The Marriage and now The Maidens. Apparently I have a type. Moving on ...

Recently widowed Mariana is a psychotherapist whose niece Zoe goes to St. Christopher’s College in Cambridge - the same college she and her beloved deceased husband Sebastian attended. When Zoe’s friend Tara, who is part of charismatic professor Edward Fosca’s mysterious exclusive study group The Maidens is found murdered, Mariana returns there, determined to protect Zoe, expose the person she’s convinced is the murderer, and hopefully deal with the ghosts of her own past along the way.

So what did I think of it? It’s good, solid writing, and I liked it. It’s an interesting plot, the Greek mythology angle was clever, and I enjoyed the classical feel of the Cambridge setting, which felt like a glimpse into history. I also love that he kept this story in the same universe as The Silent Patient, with the characters Theo and Alicia making appearances in this one. I could be wrong, but it definitely feels like a future book will do the same and revisit characters and places we’ve seen before, which is something I’ll look forward to if it happens.

Here’s where it lost a star: I absolutely LOVED its predecessor The Silent Patient, and no matter how hard I tried to see this one on its own merits, I kept wishing for just a little bit more from it. As thrillers go, I found the pace to be pretty slow, at times feeling like a whole lot of nothing was going on. It was never boring, but it could’ve been more suspenseful and compelling. Mariana wasn’t a terribly likable main character, nor was anyone else, with one possible exception, so it was more important for the story to carry the weight that the characters weren’t.

Am I disappointed with it? Not really. I enjoyed the story and once I adjusted to the slower pace, it was fun to try to work out the whodunnit aspect. Part of the final reveal didn’t surprise me all that much, but the other part of it I didn’t see coming at all, so it was a mixed bag on the ending.

All said, Michaelides is a fantastic author, and I’ll read everything he ever writes with a smile on my face. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!


Thanks to NetGalley, Celadon Books and author Alex Michaelides for this ARC in exchange for my honest review. It's due for publication on June 15, 2021.
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