- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (May 3, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0544640411
- ISBN-13: 978-0544640412
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 60 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #684,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The May Queen Murders Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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From the Publisher
What inspires you to write about mystery, murder, and folklore?
I blame my mother. She was a superstitious woman, and her ideas of bedtime stories was reading Edgar Allan Poe. The maternal side of my family lived outside a small town telling stories about family members from the 1800s as if they were still present. No matter how much the world changes, old beliefs and stories persist. I lost my parents at a young age, and writing about the things we shared keeps them with me.
In the book, animals are being killed by a mysterious unknown. As a pet owner, was that difficult?
Writing the animal killings was painful and difficult. I had to tread the line of what’s too much but still makes an impact. If someone does horrible things to an animal, what prevents him or her from doing it to a person?
Let there be no mistaking that I love animals. Animals love with all their heart. Their love is unconditional, and that also makes them vulnerable to people. When an animal puts its trust in you, don’t take it for granted.
You live in Missouri, where the book takes place. Did do a lot of research to set the atmosphere?
The Ozarks is a unique region with its own customs, beliefs, and heritage. I dug up some old books on Ozarks folklore, and talked with a lot of people whose families lived in the area for a good, long time.
There are some areas that inspired the landscape of Rowan’s Glen, and I’ve had the unsettling experience of being lost amid woods and farmland in the fog. The idea that someone or something is out there watching definitely creeps under your skin.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Ultimately, I hope that readers will relate to Ivy’s search for her own identity in the face of loss and fear. It’s a book about friendship and the complexities therein, conflicts and resolutions. Your life, your relationships, are so much greater than one afternoon of laughter or a single argument, and sometimes it’s hard to get out of the moment and look at the whole.
Are any of the characters inspired by people you know?
I suppose most writers do. It’s not so much that it’s convenient to write about who you know but more that they’ve influenced your thoughts, challenged you, and sometimes angered you. Drawing on those experiences brings a depth of understanding when you write about those characters. Looking at myself and the girlfriends I had in high school, many of whom I’m still friends with today, I see a bit of Ivy and Heather in all of us.
You volunteer at a stable for disabled riders. What does that involve?
For many years, I’ve been with a program that provides equine therapy to riders with a variety of disabilities, including teens with cerebral palsy and young children coping with autism. The riders are amazing. You work as a team with a certified therapist or instructor to ensure your contact with these riders is respectful and beneficial. To see their progress warms your heart and soul. I think I get as much therapy from this work as my riders!
From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Jude's dark and atmospheric debut novel features a secluded traditional community filled with superstition and secrets in the Missouri Ozarks. Ivy and Heather are cousins even though they don't resemble each other at all with Ivy's half-Mexican heritage and Heather's red as fire hair. They have been best friends their whole lives, but lately Ivy can feel Heather pulling away from her and their community's customs and folklore. As secrets tear them apart, their community deals with the possible return of Birch Markle, a murderer who has been living in the woods since before Ivy was born. Now, animals are turning up gruesomely killed, and the town is fearful that history will repeat itself and another girl will be murdered. Flowery prose and the distinct setting give this story a classic Gothic feel without becoming too heavy. It will appeal to readers of traditional horror titles as well as the more casual fan looking for an exciting, creepy read. The macabre descriptions sprinkled throughout are haunting and edgy and will thrill readers who like to be spooked. Unfortunately, the convoluted ending isn't as successful as too much information is uncovered too quickly. VERDICT A solid choice for rabid horror fans.—Jenna Friebel, Deerfield Public Library, IL
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
"Poetic, multisensory narration immerses the reader in mystery and horror. Multiple red herrings keep the pages turning."
"It will appeal to readers of traditional horror titles as well as the more casual fan looking for an exciting, creepy read. The macabre descriptions sprinkled throughout are haunting and edgy and will thrill readers who like to be spooked."
—School Library Journal
"A wayward girl and a monster in the woods make a familiar tale, but Jude gets it just right, portioning out the precise amount of gore, secrets, sex, and deception to make a thrillingly dark murder mystery with touches of horror and the supernatural."
"Debuting author Jude vividly describes the pastoral community, cultivating a sensual sense of atmosphere with descriptions of smells, textures, and sounds."
“This present-day mystery is ripe with superstition and serves up an atmospheric, authentic-feeling setting.”
"This book weeps atmosphere. Rich, intense, and sporting a cast of characters you will fall in love with, it draws you into the sordid doings of Rowan’s Glen and doesn’t let you go.”
—Hillary Monahan, author of Mary: The Summoning
“Dark, dangerous, and drippingly gothic.”
—Gretchen McNeil, author of Ten and the Don’t Get Mad series
Top customer reviews
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Jude’s writing is lush and atmospheric. She creates a Gothic feel with death signs and eerie encounters. The characters are well-drawn, and Ivy makes for a relatable protagonist. The ending has a lot of twists and turns, none of which I saw coming. That there are two mysteries to solve makes it pretty engaging. I do think are either going to get this book or just aren't.
Yes, there is violence, but it's not over the top. It is a horror novel, so violence is sorta expected. And the animal deaths are hard to swallow, but it does show the pattern of a serial killer getting worse. I'd recommend this to horror and mystery readers, older YA readers, and anyone who isn't afraid to try a cross-genre book because there is also a very sweet romance.
Ivy and Heather are cousins and pretty much best friends since they grew up together in their small town of Rowan’s Glen. But lately, it seems Heather has been keeping secrets. Ivy is able to devise that Heather is seeing someone romantically and she’s fearful that it’s her own long-time crush, Rook. Heather refuses to relent on her secrets and it’s after a major fight that Heather goes missing.
After the celebration of the May Day festival, Heather has seemed to vanish. No one knows where she’s at and it’s assumed the worst has happened. Which is proven correct when Ivy and Rook stumbled upon her body. Ivy is more determined than ever to figure out who killed her. Her first clue is to figure out who she had been meeting in secret. And she has an idea of who that would be, as he was the one seeking her out at school.
I’m pretty sure I read a review that somewhat spoiled things for me. As I was reading, I was remembering one of the many secrets and trying to think…why am I remembering this when it doesn’t seem to fit? Well, when it gets revealed towards the end, I was like, that’s it! So yes, I was spoiled somewhere down the line for this one in a sense, but as I said, there is more than one mystery going on.
There has also been a string of animal murders going down in Rowan’s Glen. Animals being found mutilated. So be aware that there is some sort of animal abuse in this one. It was heart sickening, but it was meant to help set things into place. There was also, a long time ago, a murderer amongst them known as Birch Markle. He’s the boogeyman so to speak and they say that he was never caught, so children are warned to stay out the woods at night because that’s where they claim he lives now. So there’s a good setting going on here to get you nice and creeped out! Add in Ivy trying to solve her cousin’s murder and you have the makings of well-read thriller.
I will definitely say that Sarah kept me on my toes in this one! I kept making guess after guess of who I thought did it! I will say that one of my guesses was correct! Think it was my second guess but then I went on to suspecting another! So it’s really up in the air if I can claim I KNEW IT! Lol. I sort of knew it at least!
There is a bit of lightness to the story too as there’s definitely a romance happening between Ivy and Rook. It was a sweet kind of first love romance that I was too quick to get caught up in. What I loved about it was that Ivy and Rook were these long-time friends first. And even when they started to be a “couple” the romance was still a sweet, slow buildup! It doesn’t overpower the story either. It’s just sort of there in the background.
Now onto that ending! Oh my goodness! This ending was insane! And I mean that in the best possible way! I feel like I can’t even discuss it without leading into spoiler territory, just know that the ending was freaking crazy and head turning and totally amazing!! I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye out for Sarah’s books in the future!
Overall Rating 4/5 stars
Ivy and Heather are best friends until secrets start tearing them apart. When ivy sees weather's shadow self she knows something bad is going to happen. As ivy tries to find out what was going on and uncovers her cousins secrets the danger surrounding her reaches epic levels.
I won't spoil the ending but I will say I enjoyed the revelations and didn't see the deeper tangle at all. I am looking forward to her next book. I love the quirky horror she delivers!
I gave this 3 out of 5 stars because I really just didn't get into it as much as I thought I would. It just wasn't really what I was expecting. I have seen other reviewers comparing this to the film "The Village" and I could certainly see some similarities, and honestly I was not a fan of that film. Honestly, this was not a bad story by any means. There are a lot of twists at the end which I thought was pretty cool, but it feels slowly paced trying to get there. The plot itself was good, the characters were interesting, it just seemed too slow for my liking.
Most recent customer reviews
Plot: Ivy and her family live a fairly simple life in the Missouri Ozarks, but it's because of their Amish ways and dark history that make them the...Read more
16 year old Ivy and her cousin Heather live in Rowan's Glen. It is an old town full of superstition and tradition, and Ivy loves every second of it.Read more