Epeolatry Book Review: Maeve Fly by CJ Leede


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Title: Maeve Fly
Author: CJ Leede
Publisher: Tor Nightfire
Release date: 6th June, 2023

Synopsis: By day, Maeve Fly works at the happiest place in the world as every child’s favorite ice princess.

By the neon night glow of the Sunset Strip, Maeve haunts the dive bars with a drink in one hand and a book in the other, imitating her misanthropic literary heroes.

But when Gideon Green – her best friend’s brother – moves to town, he awakens something dangerous within her, and the world she knows suddenly shifts beneath her feet.

Untethered, Maeve ditches her discontented act and tries on a new persona. A bolder, bloodier one, inspired by the pages of American Psycho. Step aside Patrick Bateman, it’s Maeve’s turn with the knife.

A while ago, someone asked me what I wanted to see more of in horror, and my response was “female slasher villains”. It was this desire that drew me to Maeve Fly, only I did not know how far outside my comfort zone this book would be. I prefer my horror to be suspenseful, atmospheric, and occasionally campy. I’m not into extreme gore, and it’s especially not my thing when there are strange fetishes and sex scenes. This book has all of that.

And yet, I really loved it.

CJ Leede does not shy away from any subject matter in this one, so be prepared. It may be too much for some readers, but this is not a shallow gorefest. Chock-full of literary references and excellent prose, Maeve Fly is the story of a woman struggling to fit into a world where she does not belong.

Maeve herself is a fascinating contradiction. During the day, she works as an ice princess, and in her private life she pores over literary degenerates desperate to find a role model for her life. What Maeve fears most is change and she is on the precipice of everything in her life doing just that. Her best friend’s (Kate) career is about to take off, and her aging grandmother’s health is failing. Tossed into this volatile cocktail is Gideon, Kate’s enigmatic brother, who terrifies Maeve the most.

All this change propels Maeve to emulate a new fictional psychopath – Patrick Bateman. This causes her to mature into a terrifying butterfly of bloody destruction and wreak havoc throughout LA. Yet, even through her brutality, there is a vulnerability to Maeve’s character. While I couldn’t exactly root for her, I did sympathize with her desperate desire to be seen and loved.

Maeve is a wonderful villain and protagonist. She’s human and has complicated emotions, yet she is unapologetically evil. She kills without remorse, and even delights in the bloodshed. It is also refreshing to read about a female villain who kills, not because she was raped, or suffered some other tragedy, but because this is who she is. 

Maeve Fly is witty, depraved, and off-putting in the best way. I read most of it cringing with metaphorical fingers over my eyes, and yet, I was invested. Part slasher, part coming-of-age, part satire, Maeve Fly is a fantastic read for those with strong enough stomachs.


Available from Amazon and Bookshop.

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