Published May 2016 by HMH Books

This book was awful. I regret wasting my time reading it, but I wanted to review it, so I muddled through. The May Queen Murders is a mystery, of sorts. It centers around Ivy, a teenager who lives in a small town in the Ozarks. Strange animal deaths begin occurring, and soon Ivy’s cousin and best friend Heather is murdered. These events are blamed on a local creep who lives in the woods.

The May Queen Murders is all style and no substance. And, hello, creepy backwoods hillbillies. I think Ivy’s town is supposed to come across as eccentric and charming, but, really, I see why her classmates think it’s a cult. They live apart from society and avoid electricity and modern things. They wear old-fashioned clothes and are incredibly superstitious and distrustful of “outsiders.” There’s no apparent reason for any of this; they’re not Amish or Mennonite. There’s no religious aspect to it. I feel like the story would have benefitted from being moved back from modern times into the 1800’s.

Ivy herself is just… ugh. She has no ambition, no likes or dislikes, and spends the whole story reacting slowly to things. She doesn’t come across as very intelligent. I feel like she could have stopped some of the murders had she just opened her mouth and told someone what she knew.

The author made an attempt at diversity in her characters, which is nice, but I didn’t think it was executed well at all. Ivy has a stutter, which, of course, never actually impedes her ability to speak. Her mother is Mexican and occasionally peppers her dialogue with Spanish 101 vocabulary, just in case you forget she’s supposed to be Mexican.

The revelation of the murderer (or should I say murderers?) is incredibly stupid. Oh, it wasn’t the creepy forest hobo after all, it was this guy! No, wait, it was actually her friend and the second murdered girl working together! No, wait, the first guy almost killed someone and then this third guy finished her off and then covered it up and is now trying to kill the protagonist! The words “Are you kidding me?” escaped my mouth several times during the climax of the story.

I might have given The May Queen Murders two stars if the ending wasn’t so awful. As it is, it barely deserves the one. I definitely won’t be recommending it to anyone.


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