Off With Their Heads: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer, Katie Alender

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer

Katie Alender

Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

Acclaimed author Katie Alender brings heart-stopping suspense to this story of revenge, betrayal, intrigue — and one killer queen.

Light, quirky, but lacking quite a bit of depth, Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer, is the kind of quick read mystery fans will enjoy quite a bit. When it comes down to the smaller details, that is where the book fails quite significantly. Still, there’s something fun in chasing a serial killer in Paris, getting kissed at the top of the Eiffel Tower, and diving into the — fictional — world of Marie Antoinette-France. Katie Alender has definitely written an entertaining story!

Summary: The days of beheading were supposed to have vanished along with the medieval era, but now, someone’s on the loose, killing off seemingly random people by chopping off their heads. Colette Iselin, on a school trip to France, thinks that the danger can’t be further away from her. She doesn’t know just how wrong she is, when she begins to see a strange, translucent woman, dressed in an elaborate gown — a woman who looks like Marie Antoinette. Together with two French boys and a girl from her school, she learns that the killings might not be so far away after all, and when she begins to piece together everything, she might just be the next target.

Everyone knows that I suffer from severe book amnesia, so with an average book, I start forgetting things about a week after I’ve read them. Unfortunately, Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer was no exception. The book starts out fairly interestingly enough — we’re introduced to Colette, whom we learn is claustrophobic, and whom we know is not on good terms with her brother. Colette is your stereotypical trying-hard-to-fit-in-with-the-popular-gang girl, but get this: that doesn’t make her unlikable one bit. It’s strange, because that means that she’s bitchy to the people her “friends” don’t like, and she lies about her family’s financial status so that no one looks down on her with disdain. But as the story progressed, her development became apparent. It was agonizingly slow at first, but isn’t that how things work? I appreciated that the author took the time to pull her character out, and damn, it was satisfying when the popular girl realized that wealth and designer clothing got you nowhere.

Sadly, I can’t say the same for the other characters, because I felt that even though they were very much a part of the story, they were’t very memorable. Jules was your typical nerdy-cute love interest, and while I’m a sucker for those, he was painfully… average. Audrey, the friend who helps Colette, turned out to be more of a sidekick than a friend, though there’s no denying that she was a sweet person once you looked past the sidekick part. I don’t think that this was too much of a problem, though, as the strength of the book lay in the plot.

My knowledge of Marie Antoinette is quite limited, but Katie Alender managed to increase my interest about her, her past, and her death just through the book. Even though the events were fictional, the author did an incredibly good job making them believable. And those three hundred pages? Flew by in no time. I did find that the ending was a little rushed and confusing — especially the climax: Everything was resolved a little too conveniently for my liking.

It was nothing mind blowing for sure, but Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer was a quirky read with an equally intriguing plot. It isn’t something I would rush to the bookstore for, however. Still, anyone going into this book should expect more of a light mystery book, rather than a gruesome and dark one, despite the tagline.

Who is this book for?

Those looking for a quick and fun mystery/thriller.

3.5 stars

304 pages, e-galley from NetGalley (thank you!)
Published September 24, 2013 by Scholastic
Purchase: The Book Depository • Amazon


12 thoughts on “Off With Their Heads: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer, Katie Alender

  1. I am glad that the author wrote about Antoinette in a compelling way, but the characterization surrounding it would probably disappoint me with its typicality. I love historical fiction, and though that is not the main genre of this book, I am not sure how I would handle it here. I have never read a light historical mystery ever. Glad you liked it nonetheless!

  2. Despite the fact that this book isn’t as spectacular as it probably could have been, I’m looking forward to it. The mystery and the lightness of this book sounds good. And I have a soft spot for books that can be described as ‘quirky’ 😀

  3. That’s a really catchy title. Who wouldn’t want to learn more about this book? It’s too bad it’s average. And it is disappointing that Marie Antoinette isn’t really involved in the story (it would seem). I was thinking — from the title — Marie Antoinette went Dexter Morgan on everyone and started kill people. That’d be interesting.

    Great review, Meg!

    • I know, right? The first thought that popped into mind was: Whoa, Marie Antoinette, a serial killer?! WANT WANT WANT WANT. She is involved in the story — I mean, we see her pretty frequently. It’s just that her presence isn’t really felt, at least until the end, which was again terribly rushed. 😦 I did find her story plenty intriguing, though, if that helps. Thanks, Kim!

  4. It’s such an interesting title and synopsis, but I refrained from requesting it on Netgalley because it just seemed too unbelievable. But at the very least, it wasn’t bad. Great review, Meg!

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  6. Oh, I love mystery, but it is pretty obvious from the beginning whodunit, so I’m not sure if I would enjoy this any more than you did. Though I don’t know any thing about Marie Antoinette either, so I guess that part would be fun and interesting. The average love interest is a bummer and that’s sad because I love my romances in a read. Oh well. I’m not sure I would read this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Meg!

    • To be honest, I actually didn’t think about that much! I guess that’s not what the author wants us to focus on. Rather, she wants us to WANT to know why. Why is Marie doing all this and etc. Don’t worry, even if you don’t, you’re probably not missing out on much… Apart from that awesome cover. 😉

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