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  • Writer's pictureAmelia Hooke

Review of 'The May Queen Murders'

The May Queen Murders

By Sarah Jude, 2016

HMH Books for Young Readers

Mystery, Horror

Rating: 👻👻👻1/2 (3.5 out of 4 boos)

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."

What’s the main character like?

Ivy Templeton is an artist. Possessing talent in drawing, she seems to observe and feel in deeper ways than many of those around her. Whether describing the Glen, her best friend, her love interest, her family, or animals, Ivy indicates an extraordinary mind, both poetic and kind, albeit obsessive.

How scary is it?

Off the top of my head, I cannot think of a YA book I have read that was more gory than this one. In the sense that I literally felt queasy (especially in the last thirty pages), I’d say this book is effectively scary.

Who might like this book?

Horror fans, rejoice! This one’s for you, maybe specifically teen readers who appreciate shows like American Horror Story. But let’s talk about who might not like this book. As mentioned, Jude has the knack for nausea-inducing details. If you can’t handle gore (involving humans and animals), you may not want to read this book. Additionally, this book involves some drug references, and there are some sex scenes (beautifully and emotionally written, but probably too detailed for readers sensitive to such things).

What did I like best?

When I was around twelve, I started getting obsessed with horror movies like Scream, Nightmare on Elm Street, and April Fool’s Day, just to name a few. The May Queen Murders had many elements that I remember getting excited over back then: disgusting but creative gore, a likable heroine, a crazy ending, deaths that made the villain genuinely scary, etc.

What wasn’t my favorite?

Ivy’s poetic, artistic way of describing incidents and the world around her sometimes made me feel lost. I loved her voice but occasionally found myself saying, “Huh?” because the ambiguous, beautiful descriptions were not always clear.

What was my personal experience reading this book?

I’m usually a right-before-bedtime reader. I happened to read more of this one during the day and think I preferred it that way — both because I don’t like feeling queasy right before falling asleep and because I was more alert and appreciative of the nuanced language. Read at night at your own risk!

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