The Maidens – Alex Michaelides

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Celadon Books
Pages: 333
Release Date: May 4, 2021

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.

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I’m not exactly sure why I decided to buy The Maidens when I went to the bookstore, but I’m glad I did. I would have rated The Maidens five stars had it not been for the slight issue I had with the final reveal.

Michaelides’ writing is beautiful. It’s poetic and flows seamlessly. The atmosphere is palpable and is a great example of why dark academia is so popular.

The Maidens follows Mariana as she travels to Cambridge University to console her niece after a grisly murder. Mariana is convinced she’s discovered the murderer, but no one will believe her. I enjoyed the setting and plot of the novel so much that I hardly noticed how unnoticeable Mariana is as a character. She’s in over her head and it’s painfully obvious at times. 

The reason I rated the novel four stars instead of five is because I disliked a part of the ending. After the whodunit of the mystery is identified, the reasoning this character had came so far out of left field I wouldn’t have been able to guess it even if someone told me to guess the most outlandish theory possible. Also, without going into spoilers, it reflects poorly on the main character.

Overall, The Maidens surprised me. I’ve never read a Michaelides novel before so I wasn’t expecting such a beautifully written mystery. I will definitely be reading The Silent Patient ASAP.

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Have you read The Maidens? What did you think?

2 thoughts on “The Maidens – Alex Michaelides

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