Review: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

Title: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude
Publisher: HMH for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.

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.


Set in the Missouri Ozarks, The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude is an atmospheric, spell-binding young adult mystery.

Rowan’s Glen is home to generations of families who are deeply rooted in the insular community.  Ivy Templeton is a strong believer of the folklore, omens and superstitions that have been handed down by her grandma but her cousin and best friend, Heather, is not.  With various animals turning up dead, the town blames Birch Markle, a troubled young man who murdered a young woman twenty-five years ago then disappeared into the surrounding woods.  For the first time since the tragic murder, Rowan’s Glen has decided to celebrate May Day despite the concern from some the villagers.  In the weeks leading up to the celebration, Ivy and Heather are at odds when Ivy fears that her cousin is courting danger by sneaking around with someone from the neighboring town.  Her fears soon are realized when, shortly after being crowned May Queen, Heather disappears and days later, her lifeless body is discovered.  Shattered by her loss, Ivy is determined to uncover the truth about Heather’s murder but will her search for answers endanger not only her life, but her loved ones as well?

Although the community is close-knit, Ivy’s closest friends are Heather and Rook Merriweather.  She is hurt when Heather begins to exclude her and they begin to drift apart.  Ivy grows deeply worried for her cousin’s safety when she realizes that Heather is sneaking around after dark, but her concerns fall on deaf ears.  Hurtful words are exchanged during a heated confrontation, and Ivy is devastated when Heather dies before they reconcile their differences.

Despite the heightened security in the Glen following Heather’s murder, Ivy and Rook begin investigating the puzzling clues that Ivy discovers amongst Heather’s belongings.  One of their discoveries answers a decade’s old mystery but this information raises some very serious questions about some of the events occurring in the present.  Another troubling murder puts the town on edge as the search for killer intensifies.  Rook and Ivy stumble into a rather macabre situation that quickly turns deadly, leaving both of their lives hanging in the balance.

The May Queen Murders is an eerie, suspense laden mystery that is full of unexpected twists and turns. With a plethora of long buried secrets, chilling revelations and spooky folklore, Sarah Jude obscures the perpetrator’s identity until to the novel’s shocking conclusion.  An outstanding young adult novel that is sure to be a hit with readers of all ages.

1 Comment

Filed under Contemporary, HMH Books for Young Readers, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Sarah Jude, The May Queen Murders, Young Adult

One Response to Review: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

  1. Timitra

    Thanks for the review Kathy