I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of The Maid by Nita Prose. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In The Maid, Molly has been a maid at the Regency Grand for several years, as a model employee. But one day, she discovers a guest dead in the room she’s about to clean, and she is suddenly at the center of a murder investigation. The more time passes, the more she starts to realize that this hotel is hiding secrets, and she grows determined to unravel them before her entire life is turned inside out.
This was the final book I read in 2021, and it was a good one to close out the year with!
At first, Molly as the narrator had me really distrusting everything. She was the very definition of an unreliable narrator, which often can be fascinating to me. However, sometimes the way she simply took things at face value—not to mention her naivete—kind of annoyed me. But after the first few chapters, I found that I didn’t mind as much. Sure, it’s hard for some people to believe that someone could be this seemingly oblivious, but Prose does a good job showing how Molly’s mind works and why she sees things the way she does.
I liked the other characters too, especially Charlotte, Mr. Preston, and Juan Manuel. They made for a good team, and it was sweet to see their friendships develop over the course of the story.
As for the plot, I feel like I went into this with some preconceived notions. From the first couple of chapters, I had the impression that this was going to lean more toward a psychological thriller, but it actually ended up reading slightly more like a “cozy” mystery. Not a bad thing by any means, and now I’m not sure what I was thinking. All that said, the plot was full of murder and scandal, but never any serious peril for the characters; it still manages to be intriguing, though.
On another note, I did not love the romantic subplot. It really seemed like an afterthought. Sure, Molly’s infatuation with a certain character in the beginning of the book made sense, and contributed to some of her misunderstandings of the situation, but the romance she ended up having felt pretty unnecessary. There wasn’t enough groundwork laid for anything other than a friendship, so it was weird for it to abruptly change into a romantic attraction. However, this is a minor criticism, as there isn’t much time dedicated to this.
In the end, The Maid is a decent debut novel with a good amount of mystery, unseen drama, and unveiled secrets. The characters and the plot, while off to a rocky start with me, ended up being just fine. This wasn’t a perfect book for me, but it was still entertaining.
The Maid is published today, January 4th, 2022!