The history of Rowan's Glen is not a pretty one. Legend has it a murderer stalks its woods, screaming out in the night. Pets have begun to disappear and mutilated remains have been discovered in the fields. Some folks are starting to worry that the long unseen Birch Markle has returned.
Ivy wasn't even born when Birch Markle began his reign of terror. But she's heard all the stories and knows about the death of the Glen's May Queen, their last - until now. And even with the tremor of fear currently running through their community, some believe it's time to bring the tradition back.
There were a lot of things to love about Sarah Jude's debut. The atmosphere, the pacing, the superstition and folklore base...
Ivy and her cousin are part of a small community that lives outside of town. They attend school with the regular kids, but otherwise don't socialize outside of Rowan's Glen. And Ivy is fine with that. She's happy in the Glen. Her cousin, Heather, wants more. And though they share everything, Ivy soon discovers that Heather is keeping secrets after all.
The book begins with a missing animal. Another in a long string of missing animals considering they've been disappearing for some time. Which of course brings to mind the stories of Birch Markle - the Glen's most infamous resident. Ivy's grandmother shared the tales with both Ivy and Heather as they were growing up. But their grandmother doesn't talk these days.
All of these little details (ok, some not so little) give readers a fabulous understanding of Ivy, her home life, and the community she's part of. They also set the tone for an ominous read. It reminded me in part of The Village, obviously. But the superstitions - both Ivy's mother's and her grandmother's - added a great layer of intrigue to the tale.
It was the end where I felt The May Queen Murders faltered a bit. There's some misdirection that, unfortunately, feels a bit like an afterthought. Honestly, up until that stage I was all on board but I did kind of wish that the book had ended without that little extra bit thrown in.
All things considered, I quite enjoyed The May Queen Murders. It's an overall satisfying and chilling read and Sarah Jude is definitely one I'll be looking forward to reading more from.