Cover Image: Maeve Fly

Maeve Fly

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Member Reviews

I cannot stress enough that this book is not for everyone. I also cannot stress enough how much I completely LOVED IT!

This book gets gruesome, hard-edged, and offers insight into something no one should EVER do with a hard-boiled egg. (Like, seriously. I don’t like that my mind even had to entertain that.)

But it’s so much fun!

Maeve is awesome. I mean, if I knew her in real life I’d likely end up dead or something. But I loved her. The mix between Disney Princess (technically California Adventure, but it’s all the Disney Life) and the brutality of her L.A. life is amazing.

While the book is a kill fest (and thank you for that), it’s also more nuanced and surprisingly sad at times.

I adored this and want to read another!

• ARC via Publisher

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Wow this is one that will stick with me for awhile! Maeve Fly was the perfect, twisted little book that really went there.

Maeve is a unique character with a rather extraordinary life - she's an actual Disney princess and her grandmother is Hollywood royalty. She loves her job, especially working with her best friend Kate. As Kate's star begins to rise and her grandmother's health begins to deteriorate, Maeve sees the ones she loves slipping away. The more Maeve loses the more unhinged she becomes and the more her perception of reality recedes.

We spend most of the first third of this book getting to know Maeve and seeing her daily life. Maeve could easily be the girl next store. Sure we see snippets of her dark side and more peculiar interests, but even after her first instance of on-page violence things just go back to normal. It isn't until the final quarter of the book that things get truly disgusting. Seriously. This author goes there with the body horror so if you are squeamish be prepared. In the end, even as disturbed as I was, I couldn't help but feel sad for Maeve at the same time.

As a spooky girl, I really loved all of the Halloween references and it made me excited for spooky season. I also loved all of the song references - Maeve essentially creates the perfect soundtrack to listen to while you read this book. I've only been to LA once, but I was instantly transported by the author's writing style. It just felt so gritty city.

I can't wait to read more from this author. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Tor/Tor Nightfire for a review copy.

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Maeve Fly is the type of character that quickly divides readers into lovers and haters.

Beware what is lurking behind a theme park princess’ facade!

Maeve plays a Southern California theme park princess during the day. But at night she lets her freak flag fly in the clubs of Los Angeles. When she meets Gideon, she metamorphoses into a graphically violent serial killer. If what she does between these pages doesn’t trigger you, I would be suspicious that you may be an android.

So, am I a hater or a lover of Maeve Fly? On the positive side, it is hard to find truly scary horror after decades of squeezing the life out of vampire and zombie plots. Yet, this book somehow succeeds in its goal of pushing the envelope of an American Psycho-type plot. Seeing the creation of a monster in the first third of the book was my favorite part. The rest seemed a bit rushed—like there was a better, longer version that was cut for a particular page length. In addition, some of the violence seemed to be there just for shock value rather than adding to Maeve’s characterization or the book’s plot in general.

While I liked the author’s ambition, I believe this book will only appeal to readers looking for something new to titillate their senses who can also stomach extreme violence. And you know who you are. This isn’t Dexter y’all. 3 stars.

Thanks to Tor Nightfire and NetGalley for a digital review copy of the book.

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Thank you to netgalley for providing me an Arc in exchange for my honest opinion.

In Maeve Fly we follow our main lead Maeve, who works at a Disneyland esc theme park by day, and acts out her most twisted and dark fantasies by night. She’s dealing with the struggle of caring for her sick grandmother and we see her slowly start to break because of it. Once she meets her best friend Kate’s hockey playing brother Gideon it’s all down hill from there, so strap in.

This book was so disgusting but in a way where I could barely put it down. I definitely struggled in the beginning to really get into it since the tone of the narration isn’t one I am normally used to, but once I kept reading it grew on me 100%. Maeve is not the most like-able character and I think that’s what I struggled with in the beginning as well, but honestly I don’t know what I was expecting. I feel like that’s the point of her. You’re not supposed to root for her as she is an anti-hero in every twisted way, however she is still a human with complex emotions and I feel like it was written very well for us to see that. She grew on me as well. Plus she loves halloween as much as I do which was a bonus.

I also wasn’t expecting the topics that C.J Leede was discussing throughout the book but that was one of the best parts. My favorite topic was how men don’t need a reason for being monstrous but women always need a reason or an excuse, and it’s usually from being victimized at someone else’s hands. I like how that was shown through Maeve, how she didn’t have a reason for being monstrous and just simply was.

Beware that the pretty cover will fool you. This is not light horror and it’s definitely not for everyone but I had such a fun time reading. It was written so well. This would definitely be amazing to read during halloween time as the mood and themes fit the vibe. We also got snippets of history about some halloween themed songs and I thought that was so fun since I had most of them on my halloween playlist.

(I don’t think i’ll ever look at eggs the same way again btw.)

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In his cover blurb for Maeve Fly, Grady Hendrix riffs on Bret Easton Ellis’s 1991 serial killer book American Psycho, referring to Leede’s work as Anaheim Psycho. Readers, I’m not sure I can say it much better or nearly as succinctly.

I was only a few pages into Maeve Fly when I started wondering “Who the hell is CJ Leede and where did she come from? Why hadn’t I heard of her before?”, followed up with “How is this fucking book her debut?!” and “When’s the next one?” The LA-based author has two more books coming from Tor Nightfire and it’s not hard to see why the publisher was so eager to sign her to a three-book deal.

Leede’s voice is a breath of fresh air and her writing is downright intoxicating. Her pyscho protagonist, the titular Maeve Fly, is utterly compelling and absolutely sublime in the way she makes you squirm. I couldn’t get enough of her.

Maeve Fly is a slow-burn descent into madness, which gives Leede a lot of room to maneuver in building one hell of a character study. With a protagonist like Maeve society itself becomes the antagonist, and as the story progresses she becomes further unmoored from the demands and restrictions placed upon her by American culture as more and more of the things she is attached to are taken away from her. Maeve has been forced to present herself as a lamb, but she has the heart, mind, and soul of a wolf. She is a predator lying in wait. And as she loses one thing after another, she finds less reason to hide until she finally embraces every inch of who and what she is.

In Maeve Fly’s earliest chapters, Maeve presents as a somewhat sympathetic Halloween-addicted antiheroine, watching porn as she doxxes right-wingers who wrap their racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and every other shade of bigotry in the US flag and their Bible. She constantly travels with a book or two so that, when forced into a social engagement, she can sit in the booth by herself and read while her best friend parties the night away. It’s the kind of introduction where you can’t help but root for her, no matter how progressively nasty and blood-soaked she becomes. That we can so easily find ourselves rooting for a progressively more unhinged psychopathic serial killer, and find a messy, screwed-up form of catharsis in her actions, perhaps raises some uncomfortable questions for those outside of horror, but such is the nature of the genre.

Leede’s narrative is addicting and violent, made all the more propulsive with its flashes of twisted romanticism and George Bataille-inspired eroticism. It’s gratuitous and edgy, but never in the overtly try-hard beat you over the head with it way of other recent transgressive horror works from Tor Nightfire, like Gretchen Felker-Martin’s Manhunt or Alison Rumfitt’s Tell Me I’m Worthless. Leede’s is a keener and subtler edginess, but one that still relishes in the ghastly spilling of blood and some truly shocking kill scenes, one of which wouldn’t feel out of place in a Saw flick. She deftly balances that horror tightrope of being both mortifying and gratifying, the kind that leaves you uneasy but unwilling to look away, squirming in your seat while squealing in delight at the bold depravities on display for our amusement.

Maeve Fly is a rarity in its presentation of a hellbent girl-power, at times reminiscent of a very LA, gender-flipped Joker or the 2013 film, Nurse. Leede, very straight-forwardly, asks why boys get to have all the fun. We’ve become enamored with the vicarious thrills afforded us by Hannibal Lecter and Patrick Bateman, but where are all the ladies? They’re certainly few and far between, and Maeve Fly goes a long way to help begin filling in this gap. Leede has no doubt crafted an iconic woman character whose name, like Carrie, will s

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I'm really impressed by C.J. Leede's debut novel Maeve Fly! I was kindly approved for an e-book and audiobook advanced copy of this by NetGalley, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Our main character Maeve loves Halloween and her job working as a Disney Princess in the theme park in California (although Disney is never mentioned by name - it's very clear that's where she works). She also fiercely loves her grandmother and best friend Kate. However, Maeve is far from an ordinary young woman. Throughout the novel, we get a glimpse into her twisted mind and learn that Maeve may be a "wolf in sheep's clothing."

If you don't like single POV stories, then you may not enjoy this one as we are in Maeve's head for the entirety of the novel. But I loved it, and there is still plenty of action sprinkled throughout as well (including a dark romance that plays a small role in the story)!

I've never read American Psycho the book but have seen the film multiple times - and Maeve Fly definitely reminded me of it. However, I think Maeve is far more likable than Bateman, and you end up rooting for her despite all the twisted things she thinks, says, and does!

I think this novel would be a perfect autumn read as there are SO MANY references to Halloween - Halloween music AND decor!

Fans of complex character development and a strong setting may want to give this book a go! And if you enjoyed American Psycho the book and/or film, you may also like this as well.

There are some very graphic sexual and violent scenes in this book, though - so be warned if you don't like that!

Overall, I really loved this read. The writing was beautiful despite the dark and grisly subject matter. I highlighted so many passages!

The audio narration for the audiobook was also superb, and I thought the narrator did a great job at conveying emotion through her vocal inflections.

If you want to hear more of my thoughts on this book, I vlogged my thoughts about this read and other horror books I read during the last week of May 2023:

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"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."

My Thoughts:
I'm not really sure how to describe my thoughts on this book. The chaos on the cover accurately reflects the story within. It's dark, gory, unsettling, and an off-the-rails type of ride. The character of Maeve Fly was so well fleshed out that I felt bad for her sadness in life and disgusted by her increasingly unhinged behavior at the same time.
This book is a wild ride and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys dark horror. The cover of this book may have one of my favorite tag lines ever; "Serial killing is no longer a boy's club." Girl power??

I did a combination of audio and physical reading of this one and the audiobook narrator did a fantastic job bringing this story to life.

Thank you to @netgalley , @tornightfire , and for the gifted copy of this book.

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For everyone who has ever been intrigued by the darker myths surrounding happy things, like Disneyworld. Campy and tragic, this book retains a dark beauty while beings disgusting and disturbing. The main character comes off as almost a very dark spin on the manic-pixie-dream girl archetype and while she is deplorable and thoroughly unlovable, she is enticing and will make you want to follow her

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I finished this last night and needed to follow it up with some romance to make sure I didn't have awful, gory dreams.

At first, I found Maeve kind of annoying and pretentious, which was not a problem. I was enjoying this book until the violence started. It just crossed a line in me that I didn't know I had. The sexual violence was very disturbing. It felt violent for the sake of being shocking, and not much else. I've never read American Psycho so I think I didn't quite understand what to expect from Maeve Fly...but I know now I will not read American Psycho ever.

I think if you like excessively violent and gross horror, you will like this book. Maeve Fly was too much for me. When I finished the book, I felt bad.

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I'm speechless, obsessed, awestruck. CJ Leede brought to life a beautiful, deadly queen with Meave Fly. I grew up watching slasher movies, this was my first time reading the slasher genre. I saw Baby from House of thousand corpses in Meave. The glamour, loneliness, grief, wanting to be loved, the matter of fact way to feed her wolf. I empathized with Meave's grief, social avoidance, being proud to love the things she loves regardless of gender and age. I thought the ending was perfect and poetic in a way. Meave is queen after all.
Thank you Tor Nightfire and Netgalley for access to an advanced copy for my honest review.
Thank you CJ Leede for giving readers a strong feminist FMC. You will be an autobuy author for me. I can't wait to see what else you will bring into this genre

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Maeve lives in Los Angeles with her dying grandmother. She’s a Halloween addict, an occasional fetish escort, a princess at Disneyland, a sadomasochist, and a bit of a lycanthrope. Her world is quite dark, and she feels like the female Patrick Bateman (there is definitely an “American Psycho” vibe to this).

Maeve and her best friend, Katie, an aspiring actress who also works as a Disney princess, spend their days enchanting children, and their nights taking in the club scene. Katie does it to find connections, but Maeve has other things on her mind. Those things usually involve quelling her rage, ropes, and/or a mace (not the spraying kind).

I never know how to review splatterpunk, so let’s start with cons: I felt like this started off slow; the first murder wasn’t until about a third of the way through the book. It was about the halfway through before I really started to like Maeve, and about two-thirds of the way through before I was laughing and totally invested. If there’s such a thing as slow-burn splatterpunk, this is it!

On the plus side, this had a lot of Los Angeles/old Hollywood history, and seemed almost like an ode to the city. The writing was phenomenal from page one, and was especially beautiful for an extreme horror book. Once I got into the story and characters, I really liked it - it just took awhile to get there.

Overall, I liked this one, but just wish the action had started a bit sooner. This is extreme horror with a splash of splatterpunk, romance, fantasy and the blasé feel of Gen Z. It’s written a bit abstractly, with a lot of quirk and depth, and while it wasn’t as funny as I expected it to be, there was definitely an element of dark humor. 3.5 stars, rounded up for one that I know I’ll remember for awhile!

(Thank you to Tor Nightfire, C.J. Leede, and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my review. This book is slated to be released on June 6, 2023.)

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I had a lot of thoughts while reading Maeve Fly. It's a stunning debut, gory in all of its glory that had me squirming in my seat from time to time which is a hard thing to do.

We meet Maeve who plays a beloved princess at the happiest place on Earth, and she's a serial killer. We watch as she spirals into her madness, and it is brutal and leaves you on the edge of your seat.

Once I started it was hard for me to put it down, and when I would have to put it down I kept thinking about what could possibly happen next.

I will say that you should look at the trigger warnings for this one, it's a little rough in some places, but overall it's one that I would recommend to extreme horror fans.

Big thank you to Netgalley and Tor Nightfire for sending me a review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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*2.5 stars rounded up*

Maeve Fly is an extreme horror novel that is a female version of American Psycho. It is set in LA instead of NY and there are few other differences but it is a similar book. Maeve loves LA and Halloween music and her grandma and her best friend Kate. She works at Disney (not said but you can infer) during the day and goes to bars with Kate at night. Maeve’s grandma is dying and Maeve is trying to hide the darkness inside of her. When Kate’s brother comes to town, Maeve’s inner beast is unleashed and everything changes.

Wow this book is graphic! Just like American Psycho, there is a lot of explicit material and gore. I’m not a huge fan of that in books but I knew that going in. If that is something you like in books, it’s definitely prevalent in this one. I felt disconnected from Maeve as a narrator and some of the story felt off because of that. She didn’t feel like a real person so it was hard to connect with her. I was also disappointed with the ending. I wish it didn’t end so open.

I thought the writing was good and the story itself was interesting. I just wish it wasn’t so graphic and that Maeve felt a little more real. If you enjoy extreme horror, i would recommend this one. However, this book wasn’t totally for me.

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This book was creative and gross, and really enjoyable! I'm a fan of unapologetically unlikeable narrators, so spending time in Maeve's head was fascinating. I will say that this book probably hits more for people that have an interest in LA.

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Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of Maeve Fly.

First, great cover!

Second, I never read American Psycho so I can't compare Maeve Fly to that novel, which I'm glad.

I went into Maeve Fly fresh, not knowing what to expect.

I'm not sure what to make of Maeve. She's obviously not a typical psychopath: she loves her grandmom, Lester the Cat, her job, her BFF, Kate, and LA.

Maeve is unevenly written; hiding her dark impulses and tendencies, inwardly violent and angry, yet also unambitious, delusional that her grandmom is dying, and just pathetic.

She has a lot of opinions, constantly belittling people and society in her inner monologues, which I get because I do the same thing sometimes but she did it all the time and it got tedious, ingratiating after a few chapters.

Did I like her? No. Did I dislike her? No, not really. I guess I just don't care either way.

I don't mind unlikable characters, but even unlikable characters should possess an unique, interesting quality. Maeve doesn't have any.

Third, what's the point of the story?

That Maeve is a psychopath prowling the streets of LA, mentored by her beloved grandmom?

I found it hard to believe Maeve was as twisted as she is; during the day she's dressed as a Disney princess, and at night she's monologuing in her head and listening to Halloween oriented music and thinking dark, evil thoughts.

Maeve finds a boyfriend through Kate's brother, Gideon. Naturally, he's hot and an athlete, so he's used to violence, in a way.

This was a bit more romance-y than I expected, which I'm not a fan of, especially in these types of books.

There are plenty of gory, bloody scenes so if you are the type to turn away from certain scenes in horror movies, you may want to skip this book or flip ahead.

I'm not sure what's the point of these violent interludes, to demonstrate how apathetic Maeve is, that she inflicts pain and suffering because she can and she likes it, or am I just overthinking it?

Maybe the author just enjoyed writing those scenes.

The ending is ironic, yet predictable, when she doesn't listen to him tell her they're Bonnie and Clyde and now she's all alone.

Is the point that we're all alone in the universe?

Or am I just overthinking again?

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“There are many winding paths to an inevitable end, and there is so much beauty and pain in the watching.”

Maeve Fly by CJ Leed is quite easily one of the best overall Horror experiences I have had the grim grinning delight to experience this year. As a Multimedia Horror artist, I am always on the hunt for works that provide wild, vibrant, and visceral worlds while giving me thrills and chills that I will be unpacking for days, weeks, or months to come and BOY HOWDY does Maeve Fly bring that and then some.

Follow the story of Maeve Fly, Winter Theme Park Princess by day and avid physical media/book girlie by night. With a sick grandmother and a bestie who is on her way to stardom, Maeve can feel her days with the ones she loves rapidly slipping away but it’s okay, she has a plan. That is until her best friend’s brother comes to town and turns Maeve’s life on its head.

CJ Leed exquisitely blends a love of horror, Hollywood, and Halloween all while taking the reader on a wild fast paced journey of descent into madness that is both unsettling and delectable in the same breath.

If you’re an unhinged book girlie, this is a MUST ADD to your book stack!

If you’re a horror movie hound, THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!! If you’re a fan of American Psycho, Sleep Away Camp, Psycho and sprinkle in a little Black Dahlia you don’t want to miss out!

Oh and did I mention the audiobook is Narrated by THE Sosie Bacon?!

I can’t recommend this book enough, my most anticipated book of the summer.

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Maeve Fly is an Extreme Horror novel by debut author C.J. Leede. In addition to the fascinating cover, I was drawn to this book because the synopsis mentions the main character was inspired by the pages of American Psycho.

Even though I was bored to tears by American Psycho, I still wanted to see what this was all about. It had my attention. Luckily for me, I enjoyed this much more than AP. I definitely felt the same tone throughout, but I really enjoyed the Feminist twist that Leede brought here.

This story follows Maeve, who is the Patrick Bateman of our story. Instead of NYC, we're in L.A. for this one, where Maeve lives with her ailing grandmother, a former movie starlet. Their secluded mansion is Maeve's safe haven. By day, Maeve works at a theme park, it's unnamed, but think Disneyland, where she plays a super popular ice princess. Let's call her, Elsa.

Maeve works alongside her best friend, Kate, the only person, besides her grandmother, she feels a real connection with. That is until Kate's brother, Gideon, arrives in town. Gideon makes Maeve feel things she doesn't necessarily want to be feeling. She tries to avoid him, but the attraction can't be helped. Once they start chumming around, all bets are off. It's no holds bar, gripping, pulse-pounding, exhausting, exploring their darkest and deepest desires.

We're talking dark. Real, genuine debauchery. Maeve has a fetish with eggs. You'll never be able to unsee that. I will never look at an egg the same again.

The narrative style is biting and shocking, as you would expect Extreme Horror to be. It's stream of consciousness from Maeve's perspective and being in her brain is not a comfortable place to be.

I did enjoy some of the ideas that Leede explored in this. For example, Maeve talks about how we have a need to understand why people do horrific acts, but when men perform such acts, it's sort of like, 'men are aggressive, men can snap, men can be harmful'. It's not super shocking, but when the same acts are performed by a woman, it's almost unbelievable to us.

Maeve's thing is, 'what if this is just me?' There's no reason behind it, no justifications or excuses. It's her true being, point blank.

I also liked the dichotomy displayed in Maeve's life. She loves her job, she's interacting with children all day, the epitome of a pretty, pretty princess, but as soon as the park closes and she's free in the world, she's a monster, a predator, an evil being. That back-and-forth was really well done and I appreciated how Leede set that up. I also loved the ending of this. The final two scenes were my favorite of the whole novel.

Overall, I feel like this is a good book. I think it is smart and visceral. For me, though, I felt a little disconnected with it at times. It was sort of a mixed bag. I enjoyed a lot of the themes and the ideas behind the creation of the story, but didn't vibe as much with Maeve's narrative voice.

Also, I feel like I am just not enjoying Extreme Horror as much as I used to. That is my own reading journey though, and yours may be completely different, so please keep that in mind when reading this review.

Fair warning: don't be fooled by the subtle-sounding synopsis. This is intense, torture, body horror, fetish acts, sexually explicit content for days, it's all here. If you're looking for a good shock, you'll definitely find it somewhere in this story. I dare you not to be shocked by at least a few scenes. You can't do it. You can't.

Thank you to the publisher, Tor Nightfire and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I would definitely be interested in picking up more from this author in the future, especially if she continues with the feminist themes that were so well done here.

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Deep thanks as always to NetGalley and to Macmillian/Nightfire for the ARC on 'Maeve Fly' in exchange for an honest review.
You'll have to pardon me while I hose down the gallons of blood, severed limbs, assorted organs and at least one random eyeball that came flooding out this book.......
A bit much? Not at all, cause I think it's essential that only readers who can stomach (and really love) hardcore horror go anywhere near 'Maeve Fly' Everyone else? Stick with 'The Addams Family'.......
Imagine, if you will 'American Psycho's Patrick Bateman reconceived as a Disneyland park Princess Elsa, that beloved "Let It Go' belter from "Frozen". Just the perverse audacity of that idea made me laugh and shake my head in admiration.
To the delight of park visitors, the live action Elsa's well played by none other than our title gal Maeve Fly, while sister Anna's played by Maeve's BFF, Kate.
Maeve loves her work with a passion, even tolerating Liz, her officious, micro-managing supervisor. Kate, however an aspiring actress, struggles to snag a film or TV role. And this is a perfect moment to mention how author CJ Leede evokes and beautifully portrays Los Angeles in all its sun-drenched madness - especially the underbelly of showbiz where's everybody's grasping for their dream while only a precious few achieve it. Perceptive, sharp and darkly funny, at times the book reads like a modern day "Day Of The Locust"... only with way more blood.
Speaking of dark.....that's Maeve through and through. At the house she shares with Tallulah, her once-upon-a-time movie star and infirm grandmother, she celebrates Halloween like it's Christmas at Hallmark. All she really needs to tip her over into complete insanity is something (or someone) to light her fuse.
Sure enough, Maeve finds the fuse lighter in the person of Kate's hunka-hunka Hockey star brother Gideon, newly arrived to play for the L.A. Kings. Gideon, with rippling abs and libido to match, sees directly into the bottomless abyss of Maeve's empty, violent, psychotic heart. He seems at least a possible kindred spirit, and for Maeve, who's already rapidly giving in to utter madness, that's all she needs to...uh... let it go.....and go medieval on any number of...uh....poor unfortunate souls. (but that's another movie, right?)
As I previously forewarned, the carnage here is way, way, way over the top, but author Leede turns the whole thing into such a funhouse ride, you're never sure whether to giggle or gag. And I could only smile and nod at the finale's big twist, dripping with irony....(among other things). For those who can take it, it's a 5 star ride into a human void. Dive in if you dare.

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Me having never been to LA: “Wow, this book is so LA.” 😂

Maeve Fly is a really fucking weird and special read. It’s a love story to Los Angeles and the hulking edifice of Hollywood and celebrity.

For Maeve every day is Halloween, whether it’s the music blasting through her grandmothers perfectly pink Cadillac, or her job as THAT ice princess at THAT theme park. When she’s not working, and sometimes while she is, she’s drinking and drugging and fucking to keep the darker inklings of her lizard brain at bay.

For something sinister lurks deep inside Maeve. An inherited wickedness. One that’s getting harder and harder to control. How far will Maeve go to fulfill her most depressed desires, and what will happen to anyone who dares stand in her way?

This book is perverted and funny and sometimes shockingly disgusting. It really escalates in the last 30%, where it is impossible to put down. And maybe this is a flaw of my own, but despite all the murdery stuff, and the extreme selfishness, I found Maeve to be an awful but ultimately likable character.

I think this book will be too much for a lot of people, but if you want a truly unique story with some real surprised, check out Maeve Fly.

Thank you to @tornightfire and @netgalley for an ARC of this title. Maeve Fly comes out June 6th.

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Maeve Fly is a princess. That is, she is an actress who portrays a popular ice princess at a large, unnamed and—I’m sure—entirely fictional theme park south of Los Angeles. She is also cynical, vulgar, unsympathetic, and struggling to control her violent urges. That’s pretty much all we know at the start of CJ Leede’s debut novel, Maeve Fly.

Even before its release on June 6, Maeve Fly has been building its reputation as a brutal, twisted addition to slasherdom, and we can go ahead and rip that band-aid off right off the bat—it’s a deserving reputation. Leede takes her time in building up to the mayhem, but it’s time well-spent, showing readers what makes Maeve’s brain tick in great detail.

Maeve is refreshingly complex, as far as antiheroes go. She is positively misanthropic, but she loves her job to death, despite it involving day upon day of countless interactions with children and families—a mandatory smile glued to her face. She’s good at it, too. In fact, even her rival and “unofficial” supervisor Liz, has to concede that Maeve, along with her best friend Kate (as the ice princess’s royal sister), garners more positive feedback from visitors than any other princess in the park.

Likewise, the love she feels for the city of Los Angeles runs as, if not more, deeply. The glowing descriptions Maeve uses as she moves around town make clear that she believes she understands L.A. more completely than anyone else—as if she alone holds the key to the soul of Hollywood. She is whip-smart. She reads Dostoevsky in its original Russian and philosophers Georges Bataille and the Marquis de Sade (both notorious for their pornographic fiction and hedonistic ideas), in their original French. She rattles off facts about the city and her favorite horror-punk bands and Halloween songs, and is exceptionally quick-witted. Prior to Maeve’s unraveling, you might be forgiven for reading the book as the writings of a morose, misunderstood introvert desperately clinging to her accepted vision of normalcy. Once her more “eccentric” proclivities begin to come into focus, however, you begin to see how any deviation from her vision might take us from dealing with Holden Caulfield to Patrick Bateman.

Leede clearly has a gift for drawing readers in and keeping them in as she builds her characters. We’re never given too much—constantly on edge as Maeve’s carefully constructed plans begin to fall apart. We get to see every step down into darkness Maeve takes as she releases herself from her bonds, taking full control of “the wolf,” as she calls it. Meanwhile, secondary characters—who are only ever seen from Maeve’s point of view—are given plenty of room to exist in their own right, often pursuing motivations that Maeve either misinterprets or misses completely.

Given the centrality of Bataille and Sade to the story and the sheer debauchery that Maeve finds herself in, I’m looking forward to a second reading so I can explore whether (or to what extent) Leede subscribes to Susan Sontag’s tying of pornographic content, not to sex, but to death. Granted, her connection of the two is explicit enough, in Maeve’s actions, if not in her words; but, if consistent, would add a vital lens through which to empathize with her main character. In fact, it’s Sontag’s essay, “The Pornographic Imagination,” that credits Bataille with connecting “extreme erotic experience” with death by “invest[ing] each action with a weight, a disturbing gravity, that feels authentically ‘mortal,’” a method which Leede uses to great effect in Maeve Fly.

There are only a few parts where the book nearly loses me. Early in the story, while we’re still being introduced to Maeve’s character and how she thinks and sees the world, there are a couple of instances where words or phrases will pop out of place, whether they are meant to highlight Maeve’s disconnection from others or her sociopathic tendencies, it’s as if these were deadline revisions that didn’t get the chance to fully marinate with the text. It’s a rare occurrence, and only worth mentioning to not let it dissuade you from continuing. The more jarring part comes later in the novel after we’ve come to know her thought process fairly well, Maeve begins to adopt a more Bateman-esque tone that, in her mouth, sounds a little too contrived for what we’ve come to expect from her. Admittedly, this comes well after she explicitly finds her inspiration in her copy of Ellis’s American Psycho, but it’s a shift that I wasn’t prepared for.

Overall, Maeve Fly is an impressive debut that doesn’t hold back. Leede is fearless in her willingness to explore some of the darkest corners I’ve seen in a long while, giving us a character who is a thrill to follow, and who keeps us guessing until the end. Maeve Fly is frightening, it’s gross, it’s disturbing and tragic. But most of all, it’s fun as hell to read.

Thanks to Tor Nightfire for an eARC of Maeve Fly in exchange for an unbiased review.

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