The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude // Spoiler Book Review

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⭐️

This was an absolute dumpster fire. I don’t know what I detested more: Ivy or the entire message of the book. Let me provide a backdrop to this landfill.

Rowan Glen is a small town with a close knit community. Everyone is practically fucking each other’s second cousins but that’s not what bothers me. Instead, there’s this peculiar cult mentality that no one can leave without negative repercussions or judgement.

Why would anyone want to abandon their home, but that’s my main issue. There are beliefs that others hold which I can respect, but the Glen is on another level of ridiculousness. All these spells, charms, and superstitions don’t mean shit because a murderer is on the loose. Ivy takes these myths seriously and threatens her friend Heather for not having complete faith. Here are a few examples ranging from harmless to plain impossible. Teas to calm nerves, three hoots from owls that signify death, and acorn necklaces/thread dipped in essential oils to protect you from all danger. No, it wasn’t the folk jewelry that protected Ivy but sheer plot armor. Congratulations on being the main protagonist because everyone else is either dead or maimed. I couldn’t tell if this was supposed to be magical realism or just poor writing. More than half of the superstitions held zero impact to the plot mainly because they’re nonsensical and meant to be lore not fact. To give credit where it’s due, this was integral to the world building.

As I mentioned before, dead animals start surfacing and people suspect Birch Markle. A mystical boogyman who people feel no qualms blaming all of their problems on. Oh, your TV remote isn’t working. Yeah, that was Birch. You get the feeling that your husband is having an affair. That’s because he’s in the woods getting it on with Birch.

So while this is going on, the story focuses on Ivy’s drifting relationship with Heather. It begins when Ivy sneakily (like the snake she is) follows Heather into the middle of the night to a secret rendezvous. She spots a pair of leather boots and this sets her off because this obviously means that Heather is encroaching on her man Rook. It’s the golden rule that when you call dibs on someone, your friend is supposed to avoid them. It’s not as if the person you have a crush on has their own feelings and can decide for themselves who they want to love. However, in typical Ivy fashion, she’s just jumping to conclusions from flimsy evidence. Ivy has a panic attack and throws a tantrum. She confronts Heather, but for good reason Heather refuses to divulge the mystery person’s true identity. Ivy feels betrayed for some petty reason and cuts ties with Heather. She then attempts to talk to Rook but the scene plays out like trying to placid a illogical child who doesn’t understand adult interactions. Maybe I’m being harsh and Ivy does have a stunted mental capacity because this doesn’t sound like a 17 year old.

For hetero purposes and plot conveniences, Rook returns Ivy’s feelings automatically. This leads up to a nasty fight where Ivy doesn’t apologize to Heather for wrongly accusing her of being a slut (her words, not mine). No, Ivy has to warn Heather that she saw a ghost projection from the near future where it’s clear that Heather is about to be murdered. Like anyone, Heather is properly freaking out and thinks that this is a way for Ivy to beg for attention and I’m on her side. Ivy is a thirsty bitch. She then proceeds to fire back by saying,

“Runnin’ around the st-stable with someone at night, slutting off to the trailer…”.

Yeah. Ivy is a piece of shit who belongs in first drafts and shouldn’t have been cleared for final draft material. She’s jealous that Heather is more beautiful, fun, and overall not her. The only way Ivy can even be happy is to bask in Heather’s afterglow like having the special privileges of being a ‘best friend’ affords you. Not for nothing, the best part of the book is when Heather gives a deafening slap to Ivy’s hypocritical face. Just to put it into context, Ivy is in a heteronormative romance and even has sex with Rook later on. Of course, Ivy isn’t a slut because this is true love with someone in network like the worst health insurance ever.

Instead of being supportive and understanding of Heather’s choices to leave the Glen, she guilts Heather for abandoning her. Personally, I hate clingy people who are too dependent and constantly blame you for their unhappiness. People like Ivy are toxic and would rather drag you down to their level than admit that they don’t know how to live their lives. Why would Heather reveal that she’s in a gay relationship with someone outside of the Glen when Ivy criticizes anything outside of her perfect little bubble.

Unsurprisingly, Heather is murdered. In between, there’s numerous stupid red herrings that don’t even fool you. In the end, it’s a clusterfuck of three murderers who happen to be active as if something in the water is turning the townsfolk homicidal. Also, the twist involves a cover up from local law enforcement and a conspiracy years in the making. As it turns out, Marsh (Heather’s step-father) killed Terra, the first victim. Except, Rook’s father who’s also the sheriff covers up the crime and frames Birch Markle who actually is mentally ill and probably has no idea that someone is dragging him? All of this is not only tragic but utter nonsense. The worse part is Ivy blames Heather for ‘getting herself killed’. She honestly thinks that and I wish I was joking. Violet is another victim who was killed by her boyfriend August after she felt remorse for the both of them poisoning Heather because Violet wanted to be better friends with Ivy? Do you see why I’m frustrated and high key think that it’s completely justified for everyone to regard the Glen as backwards.

Anyways, the moral is that if you’re gay, be prepared to die in every YA. Sorry, but authors still use this tired trope because gay characters only exist in fiction for the sake of transforming the straight protag. Fuck this book.🖕🏼

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Surprisingly competent with an eerie photography that cleverly calls back to the Glen’s lore. The faded treatment gives the black a certain coldness that I like. The hand lettered title is appropriate for the tone but I prefer the fuchsia pink rather than a gradient. I just can’t believe how much the cover deceived me because the content is a shit show.


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