The Maidens by Alex Michaelides and Hairpin Bridge by Taylor Adams #PsychologicalThriller #BookReview #20booksofsummer21

“Alex Michaelides’s long-awaited next novel, ‘The Maidens,’ is finally here…the premise is enticing and the elements irresistible.” —The New York Times “A deliciously dark, elegant, utterly compulsive read—with a twist that blew my mind. I loved this even more than I loved The Silent Patient and that’s saying something!” —Lucy Foley, New York Times bestselling author of The Guest List From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Patient comes a spellbinding tale of psychological suspense, weaving together Greek mythology, murder, and obsession, that further cements “Michaelides as a major player in the field” (Publishers Weekly). 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.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Maidens is a compelling, atmospheric psychological thriller that kept me guessing long after closing the book for the last time. It is a very clever story with many red herrings that create several possible outcomes, and the immersive descriptions and gothic undertones are perfect for a macabre secret society with its ancient Greek origins and rituals. I loved the references to Tennyson and some Greek plays with which I am familiar, as they add to the overall suspense and are fitting for Cambridge University. The main character is such the “victim” that it becomes increasingly annoying as she makes bad decisions after bad decisions and can’t see reality staring right back at her. Yet, the ending is shocking, and the very last page left me with that unsettled feeling I like most from a psychological thriller. You never know what motivates people, especially after a traumatic experience. However, a few things marred my reading experience, most notably plot gaps and subtleties that confused me and left me unsure that I understood what was going on in the story. This story is a perfect choice for people who enjoy a challenging mystery and want to see if they can figure out the real clues versus the red herrings.



From the author of the “full-throttle thriller” (A. J. Finn) No Exit—a riveting new psychological page-turner featuring a fierce and unforgettable heroine. Three months ago, Lena Nguyen’s estranged twin sister, Cambry, drove to a remote bridge seventy miles outside of Missoula, Montana, and jumped two hundred feet to her death. At least, that is the official police version. But Lena isn’t buying it. Now she’s come to that very bridge, driving her dead twin’s car and armed with a cassette recorder, determined to find out what really happened by interviewing the highway patrolman who allegedly discovered her sister’s body. Corporal Raymond Raycevic has agreed to meet Lena at the scene. He is sympathetic, forthright, and professional. But his story still seems a bit off. For one thing, he stopped Cambry for speeding just an hour before she supposedly leaped to her death. Then there are the sixteen attempted 911 calls from her cell phone, made in what was unfortunately a dead zone. But perhaps most troubling of all, the state trooper is referred to by name in Cambry’s final enigmatic text to her sister: Please Forgive Me. Lena will do anything to uncover the truth. But as her twin’s final hours come into focus, Lena’s search turns into a harrowing tooth-and-nail fight for her own survival—one that will test everything she thought she knew about her sister and herself…

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This star rating is based on the technical aspects of the novel and not my overall enjoyment of the book, since, as I mention in the review, it is too close to horror to be an enjoyable read for me.

Hairpin Bridge by Taylor Adams is a surprising tale that rides on the line between horror and thriller.  The first half of the novel eased me into a very slow-moving, atmospheric, low-key story. The last half started, and, Woah, the tempo and plot changed into a thriller/slasher tale that pulled me into an intensity that alternated between suspense and despair in a disturbingly violent manner.  I am not a big fan of scary, violent, gory tales. I am also not a big fan of snakes to the point where my Ophidiophobia has Ophidiophobia, so Hairpin Bridge was overall a struggle for me to read. However, I did appreciate the artistry and story-crafting involved in creating it.  The mastery involved in telling this kind of tale is mind-blowing as there are mainly three characters, and it takes place in less than 24 hours from start to finish.  I did, however, love the unreliable narrators.  Lena Nguyen and Raymond Raycevic (Ray Ray) each tell their tale, and their perceptions are so grossly different and oh so believable that I had no idea which one to believe and still don’t.  And Lena’s blog posts are so fresh and uniquely her voice that they are easy to read and very entertaining in their own right.  Lastly, the ending gave me chills in a way and for a reason that I could have never in a million guessed, and it ultimately saved the story for me.  If you are looking for an intense read that will turn you round and round and have you begging to be let off the ride, this is a reading experience you will not soon forget.

16 Replies to “The Maidens by Alex Michaelides and Hairpin Bridge by Taylor Adams #PsychologicalThriller #BookReview #20booksofsummer21”

  1. I was thinking about reading Hairpin Bridge and have no problem with horror. But snakes? Now I’m on the fence. It sounds good, though. I’m going to have to think about that one. I mean, I can watch Indiana Jones because I can turn my head, but I’m not sure I could read it, you know? Thanks, Tessa.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, I totally know. Like I said, my fear of snakes is so bad that my fear of snakes has a fear of snakes. That was the hardest thing about the second part, all the stuff I would normally skim over or cover my eyes during ( if it was a movie), I couldn’t do that and still say I read the book. The snake plays a significant role in the second half but I wouldn’t say it takes up to much page space, if that makes sense.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Staci, let me know you posted your review. I’ve been out of state at a wedding so I missed this. My review of Hairpin Bridge went live today. It’s so interesting to see the aspects of the book that worked for you and those that didn’t. I gave it four stars also, rounded up from 3.5 for review purposes, but my overall thoughts were different. I completely agree with you about the ending, however. Thoroughly unexpected!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I find the differences and similarities in our perspectives interesting too. But, I think you just have more of stomach for gore/horror than I do. If I could have skimmed those parts I wouldn’t have minded them as much, but since it takes up the whole second half, that tactic just wouldn’t work. Still, it is very well-written and I definitely noticed that. ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

  3. So many books, so little time. I get paid next week, so I reckon I’ll buy a few books then. I would have thought after self publishing a book I would have more free time, but it seems I have less. Still, school holidays in a few weeks, so I won’t have any excuses then.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. O-kay!!! Now you’ve got me so intrigued I don’t know where to start.

    First, The Maidens. I love everything you loved about the story so I’m now even more excited about getting it. Not gonna worry about what confused you…for now.

    Now, Hairpin Bridge. Snakes??? Horror, gore and violence??? Uh, oh. I just got it on audio so now I’m going to have to put on my big girl pants😬😬😬

    Might excellent reviews, Tessa💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I chatted with my IG/blog friend Renee and she didn’t have any trouble with the Maidens. Now, she had read The Silent Patient and I haven’t, so I was wondering if familiarity with his writing helps not get confused or maybe it was just a me thing 🤷🏻‍♀️. There is an interview with Alex Michaelides I just was emailed about here: https://www.criminalelement.com/qa-with-alex-michaelides-author-of-the-maidens/?utm_source=criminalelementnewsletter&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_term=criminalelementaudience&utm_content=-na_read_blogpost&utm_campaign=061521&e=89da50d5b0e0e6ca47de5dfd8c277dc12a736a53df51ad99cbd24516a1aa2a74

      As for Hairpin Bridge – definitely strap on those big girl pants, pull them up high and belt them 😉. My blog friend Mae didn’t have as much trouble with all the violence, etc… she actually liked it. But we do agree that it is very very intense. Maybe the Boa Constrictor “pet” of a murderer was just too much for me to handle.

      Liked by 1 person

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