Publisher: Harper Collins (Trade Paperback – 20 January 2022)
Length: 334 pages
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Get ready to follow a unique and entertaining protagonist into an intriguing mystery in this compelling debut novel by Nita Prose, The Maid.
The Maid is an interesting read that I was lucky enough to receive earlier in the year. Written by new author Nita Prose, The Maid is already getting a substantial amount of attention across the literary world, with a ton of positive reviews and media coverage. This positive attention has only been enhanced by news that this book is already in line to become a film starring current movie sensation Florence Pugh. Well, after having a great time reading this book, I am also throwing my opinion about The Maid into the fray, especially as it proved to be an entertaining and captivating read that did a good job blending an unusual protagonist with a fantastic story.
Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.
Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.
But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?
A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.
This was a very enjoyable and fantastically addictive novel that I had a lot of fun reading, especially with its cool and slick narrative. Told exclusively from the perspective of this central character, Molly, The Maid starts off quickly, introducing the odd-duck character of Molly and the subsequent terrible events as she discovers a body within the hotel. What follows is an intense and fast-paced story that sees Molly inadvertently dragged into the midst of the investigation as a suspect as forces within the hotel conspire to hide the truth. Forced to rely on her unique outlook on life and a few trusted people, Molly soon finds herself the key to solving the case thanks to her connections to various guests and staff, as well as her obsessive attention to detail and the secrets only a maid would know. The story unfolds at a great pace, with a strong beginning, moving centre and shocking and well-established ending, which comes together extremely well, especially as the narrative thrusts its distinctive protagonist into several unique and serious situations. Prose sets up several great twists throughout the story, and while a couple of reveals and guilty individuals were a little obvious, a couple of things did come as a surprise, including one impressive reveal right at the end. I really liked this cool, mystery filled narrative and you will quickly find yourself powering through it to see how everything comes together.
While this is nominally a murder mystery, the real appeal of The Maid is easily its central character, Molly, who gives the story some real heart and is easily the best thing about this entire book. Prose has done an incredibly good job of creating a distinctive and troubled figure in Molly, the obsessive and socially awkward maid, and I really appreciated how complex and unique she turned out to be. I always like a character who is a little different than established norms, and Molly is particularly noteworthy, as, thanks to her atypical outlook on life, sheltered upbringing, odd way of talking and stunted social instincts, everyone thinks she is weird and stupid. However, as the book is told from her perspective, the readers soon understand that she is indeed quite a complex and clever being in her own way, as her tough upbringing and family situation has ensured that she views the world in a different way. It proves to be extremely moving to see everything from Molly’s mind, especially as you soon understand all the heartbreak and betrayal she has experienced. Despite this, Molly keeps her positive attitude and determination, and this notable attribute quickly steals the readers’ hearts and ensures that they are firmly in her corner as the novel unfolds. The focus on her ability as a maid to help solve the crime was pretty fun, and it was interesting to see how the insights of “the help” can reveal so much about us. There is also a certain darkness to the character which, while mostly hidden, comes up in certain points in the book, and I deeply appreciated how Prose worked into the character and the story. I loved so many aspects of this character’s creation, and it proved to be extremely fun to see her develop and find some happiness throughout the novel.
Overall, The Maid was a fun and captivating first novel from Prose that I really enjoyed reading. The cooky and distinctive central character helps to turn this great mystery into a very entertaining and addictive novel which is well worth checking out. I look forward to seeing the eventual film adaptation of The Maid, and I am sure that Florence Pugh will kill it in the central role.