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Mary: An Awakening of Terror

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Mary is a quiet, middle-aged woman doing her best to blend into the background. Unremarkable. Invisible. Unknown even to herself. But lately, things have been changing inside Mary. Along with the hot flashes and body aches, she can’t look in a mirror without passing out, and the voices in her head have been urging her to do unspeakable things. Fired from her job in New York, Mary is a quiet, middle-aged woman doing her best to blend into the background. Unremarkable. Invisible. Unknown even to herself. But lately, things have been changing inside Mary. Along with the hot flashes and body aches, she can’t look in a mirror without passing out, and the voices in her head have been urging her to do unspeakable things. Fired from her job in New York, she moves back to her hometown, hoping to reconnect with her past and inner self. Instead, visions of terrifying, mutilated specters overwhelm her with increasing regularity and she begins auto-writing strange thoughts and phrases. Mary discovers that these experiences are echoes of an infamous serial killer. Then the killings begin again. Mary’s definitely going to find herself.


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Mary is a quiet, middle-aged woman doing her best to blend into the background. Unremarkable. Invisible. Unknown even to herself. But lately, things have been changing inside Mary. Along with the hot flashes and body aches, she can’t look in a mirror without passing out, and the voices in her head have been urging her to do unspeakable things. Fired from her job in New York, Mary is a quiet, middle-aged woman doing her best to blend into the background. Unremarkable. Invisible. Unknown even to herself. But lately, things have been changing inside Mary. Along with the hot flashes and body aches, she can’t look in a mirror without passing out, and the voices in her head have been urging her to do unspeakable things. Fired from her job in New York, she moves back to her hometown, hoping to reconnect with her past and inner self. Instead, visions of terrifying, mutilated specters overwhelm her with increasing regularity and she begins auto-writing strange thoughts and phrases. Mary discovers that these experiences are echoes of an infamous serial killer. Then the killings begin again. Mary’s definitely going to find herself.

30 review for Mary: An Awakening of Terror

  1. 4 out of 5

    Misty Marie Harms

    Mary has been, well, weird and unremarkable her whole life. Just another middle-aged woman trying to get through life without a fuss. Due to financial reasons, she finds herself having to move back home to help take care of her aunt. The home being the site of an infamous serial killer that was gunned down by the police 49 years ago. In fact, he died when Mary drew her first breath in this world. Upon arrival, the murders start up again. This town has deep secrets and its prodigal son has return Mary has been, well, weird and unremarkable her whole life. Just another middle-aged woman trying to get through life without a fuss. Due to financial reasons, she finds herself having to move back home to help take care of her aunt. The home being the site of an infamous serial killer that was gunned down by the police 49 years ago. In fact, he died when Mary drew her first breath in this world. Upon arrival, the murders start up again. This town has deep secrets and its prodigal son has returned, although not in the way you would expect.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    I was really surprised to find that this was written by a guy because it's a very good tale of horror centering around mid-life womanhood. I was really surprised to find that this was written by a guy because it's a very good tale of horror centering around mid-life womanhood.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Justin Chen

    4.5 stars A snarky and gory peri-menopausal homage to Carrie, Mary: An Awakening of Terror somehow satisfies the craving for 2 styles of horror: brutal violence and provocative commentary. With the titular Mary being an unremarkable woman in her late 40s, there's a constant compare and contrast between society's lack of expectation and desire for unmarried women in that age, and her gradual control and understanding over her supernatural power. I find Nat Cassidy's writing to be extremely engagin 4.5 stars A snarky and gory peri-menopausal homage to Carrie, Mary: An Awakening of Terror somehow satisfies the craving for 2 styles of horror: brutal violence and provocative commentary. With the titular Mary being an unremarkable woman in her late 40s, there's a constant compare and contrast between society's lack of expectation and desire for unmarried women in that age, and her gradual control and understanding over her supernatural power. I find Nat Cassidy's writing to be extremely engaging, boasting a consistent level of hysterical energy, and at times morbidly sarcastic; which softens the overly generous page count that can probably use some further trimming. Mary feels 'unhinged' from start to finish, which is meant as a compliment because I appreciate when a story is intentionally straying away from common tropes and formulaic arcs. I did not anticipate the heightened violence (maybe take caution if animal cruelty is a trigger), the fantastical tone of its narrative (the novel starts out ominous and haunting but quickly becomes something more 'lively' and bombastic), and finding a particular antagonistic character ultimately endearing and likable. Yes, Mary: An Awakening of Terror is a little chaotic, and leans on the side of 'it really doesn't need to be this long', but I thoroughly enjoyed its unique vision and bespoke execution (I'll look at so many inanimate objects differently now) — think Carrie + Hereditary + Silent Hill (primarily the 2006 movie) and you'll get the general vibe of this novel. **This ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Much appreciated!**

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    This book has been on my TBR for months—c’mon, once you see this cover, it’s impossible to not be intrigued, right?! The ominous cover only alludes to what may be one of the most bizarre and creepy reads I’ve read this year. The story focuses mainly on the lead protagonist, Mary. She’s turning 50 and has always felt invisible. She’s ignored at work, she’s single and has no prospects, and people tend treat her like she’s invisible. That being said, after she gets a call from her eccentric and cru This book has been on my TBR for months—c’mon, once you see this cover, it’s impossible to not be intrigued, right?! The ominous cover only alludes to what may be one of the most bizarre and creepy reads I’ve read this year. The story focuses mainly on the lead protagonist, Mary. She’s turning 50 and has always felt invisible. She’s ignored at work, she’s single and has no prospects, and people tend treat her like she’s invisible. That being said, after she gets a call from her eccentric and cruel aunt, Mary returns to the quiet rural town she had grown up. Mary realizes this is the perfect time to escape New York after being fired from her job, but quickly notices that she has bigger issues at hand. Mary starts to see entities around her—mutilated and graphic, these entities are trying to speak to her. However, Mary has no idea what or who they want. I read this book in one sitting on my 9 hour flight back to NYC and I couldn’t put it down. It’s a bit longer than I expected, but the story never really has any lull periods. This book kept my attention 100% during full blown jet lag and that’s saying something. I can totally see this book being optioned into film and I’m sure it’ll be utterly terrifying. This book also dives into social topics that aren’t really discussed to much—perimenopause and the treatment of women once they reach a certain age. This book is provocative and intense, so expect a lot of graphic depictions of violence. I can’t wait to read what Nat Cassidy has up his sleeve next.

  5. 4 out of 5

    inciminci

    My god, I so loved this book! I think I will write a more detailed review later, but I first want the greatness to sink in... Edit; so here is my long review and I even wrote a longer one on my blog (https://proteandepravity.blogspot.com...), but that one is slightly spoilered, so better leave it there! Nat Cassidy's Mary: An Awakening of Terror focuses on a woman who hears voices and hallucinates returning to her home town Arroyo, Arizona, where these symptoms worsen; here she also discovers many My god, I so loved this book! I think I will write a more detailed review later, but I first want the greatness to sink in... Edit; so here is my long review and I even wrote a longer one on my blog (https://proteandepravity.blogspot.com...), but that one is slightly spoilered, so better leave it there! Nat Cassidy's Mary: An Awakening of Terror focuses on a woman who hears voices and hallucinates returning to her home town Arroyo, Arizona, where these symptoms worsen; here she also discovers many things about herself, some of them unpleasant, she either didn't know or suppressed the memory of. In Arroyo, not only does she tackle her aunt who does nothing but tantalize her instead of helping but also a desert town full of religious freaks and a mysterious history involving a serial killer. All this background will mix and build up into a progressively intense and hellish fever dream, resulting in a glorious climax in which Mary gains very unexpected allies and starts drawing strength and confidence in herself! Mary and I, that was love from the very first lines. All the while I was reading this book, I was smitten and couldn't stop thinking about it - I stayed in the subway for a little longer and missed my station in order to read just one more chapter, I was anxious to get home from work so I could continue reading and stayed up late reading myself to sleep. I always wonder and ponder about books which can do that to me and ask "why?", why is it that this book could (in this case, literally) hook its claws on me? Well, for once, I realized that although I don't yet face the same crises Mary has to weather in her life, I am surrounded by many Mary's - women who are forgotten, overlooked, ignored, belittled as they get older. There are some doctor scenes in this book in which Mary’s problems get repeatedly dismissed as menopause and these scenes are especially significant, many women of any age will recognize this kind of dismissal of symptoms as either period or eating problems. It is very commendable that Cassidy highlights this bias to show that what’s going on here is that Mary, as an aging woman who wants nothing more than to be noticed, to be taken seriously, is not being given any worth. There is one reference in Mary which is hard to miss; Stephen King's debut novel Carrie (1974), in which an oppressed and bullied young girl gains unexpected powers once her menstruation kicks in. In his foreword to Mary, Nat Cassidy credits and makes a point in noting the strong mark King's titular figure left on him - up to the point where he, as a young boy, elevated her to a kind of matron saint due to her suffering, after seeing and being left shocked and awed by the sight of a bloodied, iconic Sissy Spacek playing Carrie White in the 1976 movie. In his appropriately entitled afterword "What's This Asshole Doing Writing a Book About Menopause?", he adds that he aimed at closing a certain circle - Carrie being on the opening side of reproductive/cycle horror, while Mary representing the middle age/closure. He also emphasizes the responsibility of men in fighting patriarchy. Bottom line is, Cassidy's debut horror novel absolutely struck a chord with me and is definitely worth your time; lots of patriarchal anxiety smashed, tons of gore and blood, epic confrontations and ants! My god, ants everywhere, and also claws...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Obsidian

    Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.  FYI, this book has a very long trigger warning, and I suggest that you read it and decide if you want to read this book or skip it.  Initial thoughts: Not a lot to say except this book dragged on forever. I don’t know where the author was going with things and I just gave up after a while. There’s some interesting ideas here and there, but the full execution was too much. The book is stuffed with ghosts, Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.  FYI, this book has a very long trigger warning, and I suggest that you read it and decide if you want to read this book or skip it.  Initial thoughts: Not a lot to say except this book dragged on forever. I don’t know where the author was going with things and I just gave up after a while. There’s some interesting ideas here and there, but the full execution was too much. The book is stuffed with ghosts, reincarnation, murder, etc. and this is supposed to be a homage of sorts to Carrie which I still don’t get. "Mary" follows almost 50 year old Mary who is called home by her aunt from New York. It's a good time for Mary to leave New York since she just got fired, and found out her rent is going to be so high she won't be able to afford it. But her returning to the small desert town of Arroyo feels Mary with dread. Mary doesn't have a lot of memories after her parents died in a fire, but she knows she was bullied and unhappy. Packing her "Loved Ones" (I hope you like seeing those words) which are porcelain dolls with her, Mary returns to her Aunt Nadine. But being back home brings something ugly and angry back to life in Mary, and she slowly starts to try to investigate the town's history and her connection to a serial killer who was shot dead by the police almost 50 years ago. So here's the thing, this is gory, but that didn't put me off. What put me off was how boring and fragmented this entire book was. It goes on forever and at times I just gave up trying to work out what was happening to whom and why. I think there was some interesting parts of it (the linkage between Greek mythology and all of that) but it gets buried in this book. Mary is honestly not an interesting character, and I think we were supposed to root for her, similar to Carrie, but the whole book had me going what is going on now. I don't know. I just wish more parts had been explained. Instead there felt like there was a lot of hand waving and plot holes here and there.  I did like that Mary who is going through peri-menopausal incidents right now is dealing with trying to tamper he rage down. So kind of a reverse Carrie. For people who read that book, we all know that Carrie came into her own after she got her period. But that really was the only similarities I saw. Especially since we had a ton of reveals that showed us who Mary really was as a kid before she got "sent away." Another reviewer mentioned being in Mary's mind for over 400 pages was a lot, and honestly it was. I think it would have been better to break up the book a bit to just give us another POV besides the sheriff at the very beginning of the book.  The ending was a letdown. There's a twist (that I saw coming) and then we just have more of the same apparently. 

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nat Cassidy

    Yeah, I'm probably biased. But in fairness, I have read this book a whole buncha times, so I'm kind of an expert on it, right? Anyway, I hope you enjoy it! If you like things like serial killers, ghosts, the desert, unreliable narrators, metaphysics, etc., I think you will. The Author's Note at the beginning and the Afterword at the end pretty much say everything I was trying to *do* with this book--and the former also offers some spoiler-free content warnings if you'd like them. I also included Yeah, I'm probably biased. But in fairness, I have read this book a whole buncha times, so I'm kind of an expert on it, right? Anyway, I hope you enjoy it! If you like things like serial killers, ghosts, the desert, unreliable narrators, metaphysics, etc., I think you will. The Author's Note at the beginning and the Afterword at the end pretty much say everything I was trying to *do* with this book--and the former also offers some spoiler-free content warnings if you'd like them. I also included in the Acknowledgements page a list of the books that were inspirational to me when writing MARY. Maybe I'll recreate that list here on Goodreads--that could be fun ...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stay Fetters

    "Someone is standing in the tub with me. Barely a foot away. A woman. Naked except for a white, bloody hood pulled over her head. A pillowcase. In the split second before I react, I see the impression of eyes, of a mouth, the dented wetness of the gory fabric. Dark blood oozes down the woman's neck and chest in thick rivulets. She's making some sort of noise- not quite speech but I can hear a raspy voice, exhaling. I can't make sense of it, though, because I've already begun to scream." Mary has "Someone is standing in the tub with me. Barely a foot away. A woman. Naked except for a white, bloody hood pulled over her head. A pillowcase. In the split second before I react, I see the impression of eyes, of a mouth, the dented wetness of the gory fabric. Dark blood oozes down the woman's neck and chest in thick rivulets. She's making some sort of noise- not quite speech but I can hear a raspy voice, exhaling. I can't make sense of it, though, because I've already begun to scream." Mary has been stalking me any chance that she got until I preordered this. She stood over my bed and growled at me, lurked around every corner, and watched me as I showered. Maybe it was my imagination or maybe it was my dog. Who knows? All I know is that I pre-ordered this and I don't regret a thing. This was weird. Like Twilight Zone weird. I kept waiting for Rod Serling to pop out and tell me that I'm traveling through another dimension. Creepy throughout and freaky as all hell. Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen, Nat threw another crazy thing in our way. Great read, loved it. Mary and Aunt Nadine were a hoot together. They got each other going and it was hilarious. Brought some lightness into some intense scenes. Mary was a fantastic read. It was twisted, over-the-top gory, and so very bizarre. Prepare yourself for nightmares and creepy naked people to watch you shower. Just don't ever f**k with a woman going through menopause.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Johnson

    I didn’t want this book to end and I haven’t felt like that in a long time. I loved it (please don’t psychoanalyze me) *TWs for quite a number of super disturbing topics you might wanna look into but I have to mention that there’s a pretty graphic animal violence scene. I’m not really sensitive to much but it was a lot so know that going in! Props to mr. Cassidy for his upfront warnings and the thoughtful authors notes! HIGHLY recommend listening on audio if you can!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Baker

    I’ll update with my thoughts after our Bookclub meeting this Friday!!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    holy shit talk about a cover

  12. 5 out of 5

    ALet

    This simply was just not the book for me. I really didn’t like the author's writing style and his characterizing, it just felt very one dimensional (especially the main character). It felt like a parody of a classic horror story. DNF @ 40% This simply was just not the book for me. I really didn’t like the author's writing style and his characterizing, it just felt very one dimensional (especially the main character). It felt like a parody of a classic horror story. DNF @ 40%

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie (That's What She Read)

    This was such an engrossing read. Everytime I thought I knew where this was going, I was wrong.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    This was not what I expected going in. I listened to the audiobook. The narrator did a good job. This was a long audiobook and the pacing of the story was slow. However, I think it worked well because at one point I got hooked. It unique, creepy, and atmospheric. I have a love/hate relationship with an unreliable narrator but again in this case it worked. I had no idea where it was going but happily went along for the ride. Mary is a middle aged woman who wants nothing more than to be invisible. This was not what I expected going in. I listened to the audiobook. The narrator did a good job. This was a long audiobook and the pacing of the story was slow. However, I think it worked well because at one point I got hooked. It unique, creepy, and atmospheric. I have a love/hate relationship with an unreliable narrator but again in this case it worked. I had no idea where it was going but happily went along for the ride. Mary is a middle aged woman who wants nothing more than to be invisible. However this need to blend into the background stirs something up inside her. She starts hearing voices in her head that tell her to do bad things. She experiences hot flashes, body aches, and fainting spells. After being fired from her job she decides to go home to New York. Mary hopes this homecoming will help her reconnect with herself and heal whatever is going on inside her. Unfortunately, the move only makes things worse. She starts seeing disturbing visions and adopts other strange behaviors. It isn’t until Mary discovers that these behaviors mirror the experiences of a serial killer that she begins to really worry. Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for this arc in exchange for my honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katie T

    Gore packed, surprisingly fun and unique horror.

  16. 5 out of 5

    OutlawPoet

    Well, let’s start with kudos to the author. He definitely pulled off Mary’s character – I literally stopped reading to make sure that this wasn’t actually written by a middle-aged, angry, socially invisible woman. Mary is believable. Her fury is also believable. While a few of the other characters were a little thin (as in mustache-twirling villain kind of thin), Mary seemed as real as I am. The plot is definitely twisted, but fun. Not for the squeamish and, at times over the top (in an extremely Well, let’s start with kudos to the author. He definitely pulled off Mary’s character – I literally stopped reading to make sure that this wasn’t actually written by a middle-aged, angry, socially invisible woman. Mary is believable. Her fury is also believable. While a few of the other characters were a little thin (as in mustache-twirling villain kind of thin), Mary seemed as real as I am. The plot is definitely twisted, but fun. Not for the squeamish and, at times over the top (in an extremely entertaining way), the book is a delight. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but I definitely enjoyed the journey! Looking forward to more from the author! *ARC via Publisher

  17. 5 out of 5

    Irene Well Worth A Read

    The cover and the description really sucked me in, and will likely do the same to other women of a certain age (yes that is me!) How clever, (I thought) to take what is already a difficult transition in a woman's life and turn it into a horror novel. I thought this was a novel about a woman who had suffered some trauma or breakdown in her life, now trying to cope with menopause and further emotional and physical upset. Mary is about to have her 50th birthday, and she is going through some normal The cover and the description really sucked me in, and will likely do the same to other women of a certain age (yes that is me!) How clever, (I thought) to take what is already a difficult transition in a woman's life and turn it into a horror novel. I thought this was a novel about a woman who had suffered some trauma or breakdown in her life, now trying to cope with menopause and further emotional and physical upset. Mary is about to have her 50th birthday, and she is going through some normal and not-so-normal experiences. Unfortunately, Mary is also an unreliable narrator and this book is full of unlikable characters. At first, I could somewhat relate to her, the feeling invisible, the avoidance of mirrors. The story has a really strong beginning with creepy scenes and some humor too. Then it sort of peters out and turns into a draggy slow paced festival of weirdness that is too out there even for me. And that is really saying something. I'm not that bothered that a male author attempted to write from the viewpoint of a menopausal woman, in fact, kudos for even trying to understand. I have no problem with male authors writing female characters or vice versa. It just didn't really work for me. It tried to combine too many elements into one plot that stretched on for too long. You may enjoy it more than I did. My thanks to Tor Nightfire

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    The layers of meaning in this book, y’all.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Janelle Janson

    Review to come!

  20. 5 out of 5

    carissa | the.grim.readers

    This one was quite the ride and touched on subjects such as perimenopause and the declining treatment of women as they age in a way that worked super well, and I enjoyed the authors explanation of what he was trying to do in the foreword and afterword. Nothing super glowing or negative to say about this one, I just think it was a bit too long and at times felt a little all over the place. There were body horror elements that really got me throughout and the descriptions were perfectly done. I re This one was quite the ride and touched on subjects such as perimenopause and the declining treatment of women as they age in a way that worked super well, and I enjoyed the authors explanation of what he was trying to do in the foreword and afterword. Nothing super glowing or negative to say about this one, I just think it was a bit too long and at times felt a little all over the place. There were body horror elements that really got me throughout and the descriptions were perfectly done. I really enjoyed the “good for her” ending and how he wrapped up the various storylines, but overall was a middle of the road read for me. Thank you to Tor Nightfire for sending me a physical ARC and MacMillian Audio for the ALC!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jeanie

    It's been a long time since I've read a horror novel. Not because I don't like them, but because they've become pretty watered down lately and a bit too trigger free if I'm looking for a real scare. This one was not that. In fact, the trigger warning is very long in the forward. This novel had ALL the horror going on. With that said, it was also quite funny. I laughed out loud many times. I was surprised to find out the author was male. I usually can tell that immediately because they do not wri It's been a long time since I've read a horror novel. Not because I don't like them, but because they've become pretty watered down lately and a bit too trigger free if I'm looking for a real scare. This one was not that. In fact, the trigger warning is very long in the forward. This novel had ALL the horror going on. With that said, it was also quite funny. I laughed out loud many times. I was surprised to find out the author was male. I usually can tell that immediately because they do not write women accurately. This was a pleasant surprise. And so was the "triggerfull" horror! This one is definitely a slower burn and takes it's time getting to where it's going. I loved it, but if you have triggers or are looking for a quick read, it may not be for you. The author was originally inspired by Stephen King's Carrie and I definitely got the king of horror vibes from Mary! Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for an early copy of this wonderful bloodfest.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I wish I were better at writing reviews. Because this book certainly deserves a glowing one. I laughed I cried I had nightmares. Thank you for seeing me💀

  23. 5 out of 5

    kay

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I may have already needed a therapist before reading this, but it is now more important than ever after finishing Mary. “What the jolly Christ fuck are you singing?” Nadine asked Mary, politely. I have to ask Nat Cassidy something similar - “What the jolly Christ fuck did you just write?” (Also I’m pretty sure Nadine was one of the most awful characters but I loved her? She didn’t need to go out the way she did, Nat lol)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Mary's made a career out of making herself invisible. As a child, she was bullied relentlessly at school. Her parents died in a fire when she was young, and she was sent to live with her crotchety old aunt. As an adult, she now lives alone with her little porcelain Loved Ones, works in the basement of a local bookstore, and generally tries to Be Good. Though there's more to Mary than meets the eye. And now she's starting to worry that she might be losing her mind. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, Mary's made a career out of making herself invisible. As a child, she was bullied relentlessly at school. Her parents died in a fire when she was young, and she was sent to live with her crotchety old aunt. As an adult, she now lives alone with her little porcelain Loved Ones, works in the basement of a local bookstore, and generally tries to Be Good. Though there's more to Mary than meets the eye. And now she's starting to worry that she might be losing her mind. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, strange things are happening to her. The sight of her reflection in the mirror terrorizes her. If she looks for more than a second, her face starts to bubble and ooze and rot. And if she happens to look other woman her age in the eyes, their faces do the same. She's suffering from horrible nightmares, and the undervoice, a dark and nasty voice inside her head, is encouraging her to Be Bad. To do Very Bad Things. The doctor at the clinic chalks it up to menopause, but Mary doesn't buy it for a second. Something is very very wrong. One panicked phone call from her estranged aunt seems to offer the perfect distraction, at the moment she most needs it, and she willingly heads back to her hometown. Though when she arrives, long forgotten memories begin to surface, and the mysterious Cross House begins to beckon her for reasons she will soon wish she never knew. The perfect read if you enjoy unreliable narrators, small towns with dark secrets, and possession stories!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    You ever pick up a book and find it hard to put down? That’s this one. This was fun yet disturbing at the same time. Mary was such a wreck but somehow I felt like I relate to her on some level that I couldn’t even begin to explain. (No I haven’t hit menopause nor do I see dead people) and her aunt… no words. I always tell people I’m not a fan of ghost type stories because ghosts terrify me in real life, however I’ve read a few lately and I’ve really enjoyed them all 👀 Maybe I need more ghost boo You ever pick up a book and find it hard to put down? That’s this one. This was fun yet disturbing at the same time. Mary was such a wreck but somehow I felt like I relate to her on some level that I couldn’t even begin to explain. (No I haven’t hit menopause nor do I see dead people) and her aunt… no words. I always tell people I’m not a fan of ghost type stories because ghosts terrify me in real life, however I’ve read a few lately and I’ve really enjoyed them all 👀 Maybe I need more ghost books in my life.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mallory McCartney

    Thank you to Netgalley, Tornightfire and Nat Cassidy for the ARC. All thoughts are my own Holllllllllllly shit. This book blew my mind. It's a wild ride as a horror novel and a wild ride you will take with the main character Mary. If I could give this book more than five stars I would. It breaks down the mold of what a horror novel can be, and does that very well. First, I applaud you Nat Cassidy. Like others once I got into reading Mary I had to check who the author is- since the book is wrote f Thank you to Netgalley, Tornightfire and Nat Cassidy for the ARC. All thoughts are my own Holllllllllllly shit. This book blew my mind. It's a wild ride as a horror novel and a wild ride you will take with the main character Mary. If I could give this book more than five stars I would. It breaks down the mold of what a horror novel can be, and does that very well. First, I applaud you Nat Cassidy. Like others once I got into reading Mary I had to check who the author is- since the book is wrote from the perspective of a 49 Turing 50 year old woman- Mary. It is done so expertly you can imagine my surprise the author is a young man! It takes a damn good writer to pull a story like this off. Second, lets talk about the book. Mary our main character starts off her story by not only getting fired from her job at her local bookstore in New York, but gets a call from her aunt Nadine who lives in a isolated desert town of Arroyo. Nadine needs Mary to help take care of her, since she is I'll. Having no job Mary packs up her Loved Ones (her porcelain doll set which just gives me shivers) and returns home. Well from there things get wild. Arroyo is not like other towns and fifty years ago was plagued by the serial killer Damon Cross. Mary gets reacquainted with the past in a way that will shatter not only her reality but the readers. Preorder this book! Don't miss out on this one

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hicks

    Inspired by Stephen King's Carrie, Nat Cassidy's Mary initially seems to take more of its lead from Misery, with Cassidy's titular protagonist reminding one more of Annie Wilkes than King's tortured telekinetic. Inspiration only gets you so far, though. Blessedly, Cassidy has plenty of his own ideas, having shaped this story over the course of roughly a quarter-century since he was 13, and Mary stands as its own unique story. I have to admit, my initial draw was seeing just how crazy Cassidy's pr Inspired by Stephen King's Carrie, Nat Cassidy's Mary initially seems to take more of its lead from Misery, with Cassidy's titular protagonist reminding one more of Annie Wilkes than King's tortured telekinetic. Inspiration only gets you so far, though. Blessedly, Cassidy has plenty of his own ideas, having shaped this story over the course of roughly a quarter-century since he was 13, and Mary stands as its own unique story. I have to admit, my initial draw was seeing just how crazy Cassidy's protagonist could get. Mary is a quiet, lonely, 50-year-old, perimenopausal woman. She has blackouts while talking to her collection of porcelain figurines (don't worry, they talk back!) and daydreams of killing damn near everyone around her. She's summoned back home by her ailing, mean-spirited, foul-mouthed Aunt Nadine, where Mary's spiraling descent into madness only worsens. Fifty years ago, on the day of Mary's birth, in fact, the career of Arroyo's notorious serial killer Damon Cross ended, but his legacy lives on. Shortly after Mary's return, the killings begin again... Mary has a lot going on between the covers, and Cassidy's story is richly, deeply plotted and has a lot of thematic depth. The most striking, of course, is the invisibility of women, at least until they can be blamed for something. Cassidy tackles misogyny head-on, and the way it has shaped and formed Mary over the course of her life. When she visits doctors for treatment for her blackout spells and confesses to hearing voices, her complaints are brushed aside as symptoms of menopause. As the story progresses, one can't help but wonder how different a trajectory Mary's life and the small desert town of Arroyo would have charted if only she had been taken seriously and listened to in those opening chapters. Instead, she's ignored at best, or mocked and bullied at worst, oftentimes viewed as little more than an old, pathetic loser. And then there's the fascination with true crime in general, serial killers specifically, and the way these brutal, psychologically damaged, demented murderers of women are turned into icons and stars. They become the subjects of books and podcasts and movies and have collectible baseball cards made bearing their image and stats. They become immortalized and worshipped. And in the desert of Arroyo is a cult, bearing killer Damon Cross as its prophet... Like I said, there's a lot going on here, and I've only really scratched the surface with the above. What may be most surprising is how well Cassidy balances all of the various elements, characters, and relationships. That he does so as a cis man writing about a 50-year-old woman, no less, may be a conversation better left to voices other than mine, but I do sense an honest, introspective, and highly empathetic author who's done his homework and has made an impressive amount of effort at being true and loyal to both his characters and his readers. Mary feels downright sprawling, despite its first-person narrative and limited locations (we spend most of our time in Nadine's house or the Cross House overlooking Arroyo), and it feels welcomingly outsized to its page-count. We inhabit Mary's head, occupying an ephemeral space inside her skull alongside all the other voices guiding her, chiding her, breaking her, and it's a wild ride that alternates between frightening and exhilarating and, at times, even empowering.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    some good stuff in here and very well written but my god this was just WAY too long, it took me a whole week to get through the second half

  29. 5 out of 5

    RivetingReads

    This was the Lights Out Book Club pick for August! You can watch the live here: https://youtu.be/VJ0xcaLM5fY I have so many thoughts! A longer review to come. This was the Lights Out Book Club pick for August! You can watch the live here: https://youtu.be/VJ0xcaLM5fY I have so many thoughts! A longer review to come.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Haley Newlin

    F*cking chills. Just f*cking chills. This is how you be an ally! This is how you represent women in fiction. A f*cking masterpiece. Full review coming to Cemetery Dance!

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