I normally don't write negative reviews, since I REALLY understand that sometimes, people like books that I don't like, and vice versa. I like to respect that fact, and try and find things that people will like.
However, that will definitely not be the case with The May Queen Murders. Seriously. AVOID this book. Go read something else.
Expected publication: May 3rd 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Format read: E-ARC via Publisher
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.
Seriously, guys: don’t read this. If you have it on deck right now, delete it. Give your ARC to someone who may enjoy stupid horror tales. Because there are way better books out there. This is not one of them.
The book starts out as stereotypical as humanly possibly: Ivy Templeton lives in Rowan’s Glen, an isolated community in the Ozarks. Think Ivy from the film The Village, and you basically get the setting/community from this book.
(Hey, wait a minute...)
Ivy and her community are viewed as outsiders by the world around them. That’s fine with Ivy; she has her cousin/best friend a.k.a. Rowan Glen Mean Girl Heather, so she doesn’t need anyone else. However, Heather disappears after May Day celebrations…
And what follows is possibly the most stereotypical horror story, ever.
Ivy is naturally the plucky, slightly naïve protagonist, who is determined to get to the bottom of her cousin’s disappearance. There is the usual hunky guy who understands Ivy at a deeper level, and is determined to help her – often at the expense of his own well-being. There is also the usual array of town oddities whom everyone believes to be responsible for the disappearance and subsequent murders, the usual small town judgment, etc. etc.
So. I don’t really think author Sarah Jude went into this book thinking, “I know! I’m going to write Scream in the Ozarks!” but that’s exactly how this book came off.
I don’t even watch horror movies – that’s more Tom’s speed than mine – but I could literally see every plot twist, every character development, coming from a mile away. It's that predictable. At one point, I hit the halfway mark in this book, and began texting my friend Kim, saying “$20 bucks that this book is going here.” Sure enough, the book went exactly there.
I think I could have forgiven such a stereotypical book, if Jude didn’t also try and make this book bloody and disgusting, simply for the sake of being shocking. There are bloody, bloody deaths scattered throughout this book, where people, animals and pets die in the most ridiculously, grotesque ways. Each time I came across one of these deaths, I was always left thinking: “WHY?”
I’m not exactly one to cringe from a bloody death either – I willingly submit to the bloody deaths on The Walking Dead each week, but dude. Guys. It’s literally like Sarah Jude actually sat and thought about the most ridiculous way a person could die, and put it in this book. Did no one in the editorial process go, "Uh... I don't think _____ needs to die by _____? Doesn't that just seem a TAD too violent/ridiculous?"
Apparently not. Also, the motivation for these deaths are exactly what you think they would be.
All in all, I came out of reading this book feeling like I needed a shower, and then texted Kim and asked myself why I put myself through these things.
Her answer? “You are totally taking one for the team.”
So guys, as someone who absolutely just took one for the team: avoid this book. Make my sacrifice worth it.
About the author:
SARAH JUDE lives by the woods and has an owl that lands on her chimney every night. She grew up believing you had to hold your breath when passing a graveyard. Now she writes about cemeteries, murder, and folklore. She resides in Missouri with her husband, three children, and two dogs. When she's not writing, she can be found volunteering at a stable for disabled riders. Visit her website at www.sarahjude.com.