The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

Published: 2021 Genre: Thriller 1. First lines: 2. Cover: Hachette 3. The Pleiades [Public Domain] via Wikimedia 4. Cambridge University [Public Domain] via Max Pixel

Mariana Andros, a psychologist, is called to St. Christopher’s College, Cambridge where her niece Zoe has just found out that her best friend Tara has been found murdered. Tara was part of a group of students called The Maidens who met the charismatic Professor Fosca exclusively for tutoring. Mariana thinks he is the killer and she becomes obsessed with finding enough evidence to prove him guilty.

She sometimes felt she had been cursed, as if by some malevolent goddess in a Greek myth, to lose everyone she ever loved.

Glanceabook: Although this story is quite engaging, the main characters are not at all convincing, often getting into unlikely situations, and acting in improbable ways. The setting of Cambridge University is described vividly, and is an apt background to a story with links to the Greek tragedies.

  • The Guardian: “Tautly plotted and impeccably paced, it’s an intelligent and propulsive second novel.”
  • Kirkus: “Eerie atmosphere isn’t enough to overcome an unsatisfying plot and sometimes-exasperating protagonist.”


“I can see you have cast me as the villain—a predator preying on my vulnerable students. Except now you’re met these young ladies, you can see there’s nothing vulnerable about them. Nothing untoward happens at these meetings—it’s just a small study group, discussing poetry, enjoying wine and intellectual debate.”

“Reading about life was no preparation for living it.”

“It felt as if a kind of pestilence, a plague, were spreading through the college—as in a Greek myth, the sickness that destroyed Thebes; an invisible airborne poison drifting through the courtyards—and these ancient walls, once a refuge from the outside world, no longer offered any protection.”

Author: Alex Michaelides

Edition published in the US by Macmillan

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