Review of The May Queen Murders and Exit, Pursued by a Bear

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The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

Published by HMH Books on May 3, 2016

Source: eARC from publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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. 

Review of The May Queen Murders

Atmospheric and suspenseful, The May Queen Murders is a tale of madness and murder in an isolated town in the Ozarks. 

It's also not for the squeamish (which would kind of be ... me). There's animal cruelty and a fair amount of violence in this story, if that sways you one way or the other. 

I liked the book's setting a lot. It takes places in a small community that eschews technology, makes their own clothes, keeps mostly to themselves. 

In this way the book reminded me a little of The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle, with a blend of the small insular community and the horror. 

The May Queen Murders was partly a friendship story between Ivy and her cousin Heather, and partly a double romance (not a triangle, though it seemed that way at one point) but to me all the carnage sort of got in the way of the human interest part of the story. 

I read to the end, but in all honesty this one was a little bit too gory for me.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston

Published on May 15, 2016
by Dutton

Synopsis from Goodreads: Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. 

She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next. But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined: Victim. Survivor. That raped girl. 

Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.

Review of Exit, Pursued by a Bear

 Thanks to the bloggers (Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit and Rashika @ The Social Potato) who raved about this book and got me to read it. 

Based on the title and cover, I assumed this was some kind of outdoor adventure story. Clearly, I have not read Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, which this book is loosely based upon. The title comes from a stage direction during the play. 

Exit, Pursued by A Bear is a book about how terrible, unfair things sometimes happen without warning. 

The book explores how it is possible to get through something unimaginably awful. (Preferably with a friend like Polly, who is the epitome of what a best friend should be, by your side.)  Hermione absolutely will not lose her sense of self, her dignity, or her power. 

I liked that this book (and Hermione herself) just flat-out rejects all the shame and self-blame that are often part of sexual assault stories. Maybe that isn't always the way things are, but the book argues that it's the way things ought to be.


  1. Yeah those animal scenes in May Queen Murders are not for the faint of heart. I had to read those parts with my eyes half closed!

  2. Exit, Pursued by a Bear is one I really want to read after hearing a few bloggers rave. I will say I had no idea where that title came from so clearly I didn't read A Winter's Tale either!

  3. The pursued by a bear title is hard for me to get around for some reason

  4. I love the setting of the The May Queen Murders, but the violence may be just a tad too much for me.

    I'm curios about Exit!

  5. I want to read MQM, but I'm waiting until later this year when I do most of my horror reading. Exit Pursued By A Bear is on my wish list, so I hope to read that soon. Great reviews!

  6. Definitely wanting to read The May Queen Murders- its sounds so good to me and the cover is so chilling but pretty! Violence and gore doesn't bother me that much, so I'm still excited to read this one. Is it a standalone though?


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