Book Review: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender

Heads will roll!

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender is more than just a murder mystery with a link to the French Revolution.  It follows a young girl as she navigates through friendship, love, and the consequences of her family’s legacy.  Before Colette begins her journey to Paris on a class trip, she discovers her grandmother’s medallion.  It is the ‘key’ that launches her into an investigation she soon realizes horrifically ties her to the mysterious decapitations happening to young Parisians around Paris.

The novel is riddled with small narrative interjections that give the reader insight into the lives of those soon to be beheaded.  While Colette is cut off from the insights provided by the narrative interjections, the reader is not.  When suddenly more and more Parisians are beheaded, the reader begins to fear that Colette is next.  Suspense begins to build long before Colette realizes that her encounters with the ghost of Marie Antoinette may lead to her death.

As Colette visits museums, and various sights believed to be the possible resting place of Marie Antoinette, she begins to form a strong connection to Jules, the tour guide, and slowly pulls away from Hannah, the nefariously self-indulgent mean girl.  At every turn, it seems Colette is attempting to balance her new sense of determination and independence with her need to please Hannah and remain a member of the popular group.  Colette is torn between the girl she thinks she should be, and the girl she is becoming.

“My week in Paris was making me wonder whether there really was a me. Who was I?  Did Colette exist as a human, or was she just a pathetic mash-up of other people’s expectations?”

This subplot mutes the otherwise horrific premise and distracts from the suspense and significance of the mysterious murders and Colette’s inevitable connection to Marie Antoinette.  Rather than focus fully on the heads rolling in the streets, Colette is caught up in trying to please Hannah, establish a stronger relationship with Jules, and enjoy the experience of simply being in Paris.

“I’m in Paris, and I met a boy, and he really likes me, and I kissed him.  At the top of the Eiffel Tower.”

The story could easily double as a guide to Paris.  It takes the reader through the streets, into cafés, and through various historical sites.  If it weren’t for the sudden appearance of Marie Antoinete’s ghost while Colette explores the city, the tourist slant to the narrative would have seemed like something easy to skip.  Each site reveals historical details about Marie Antoinette’s life and the events that led up to her demise.  Those details help Colette solve the mystery in the end with enough time to rescue her friend, temper and sooth the distress of a once betrayed monarch, and mature into a confident young woman.

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer is a teen friendly novel with expected twists and turns, witty young dialogue, and the typical YA love triangle.  The story is well plotted, paced, and pleasant.  It is not full of thrills and chills no matter how dark the premise.  It is not as horrific as Stephen King, but it will please fans of the Pretty Little Liars series.  If you like a little teen angst in your horror, then this is the book for you.

Erica Spriggs

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