Cover Image: Mary


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Member Reviews

Thank you NetGalley for letting me read this title early in exchange for my honest review. 

Wow. I don’t even really know where or how to start. The entire time I was reading this slow burn, I wanted it to move faster so I knew what was going on and now that it’s over, I’m sad. This was so well written; it was gory, poignant, gruesome, beautiful. The story was gripping in a way that I haven’t ever experienced before. The twists that came were unexpected and everything was just done really, really well. You can tell the author went as far as he needed to go in order to do justice for this story.
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A fun and refreshing take on the "female insanity" and "bullied youth" tropes. A Shirley Jackson for the modern times. Nat Cassidy delivers a complex and well paced tale with plenty of jumps and chills.
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There’s a lot to love about this book. But to start, I will warn you that there is a particularly difficult scene depicting rape/torture that you might want to skim over or skip entirely. It’s uncomfortable and hard to read. When you see a mention of stirrups, beware. 

The author mentions that he drew inspiration (initially) for this story from Stephen King’s Carrie and what she’d be like if she were older. You can see a lot of that inspiration in this book which I loved. There’s a lot of bullying and trauma that Mary has lived through in her almost 50 years. When Mary receives a call from her Aunt Nadine asking her to come back to her home town to care for her, enough bad things have been happening in Mary’s life in New York that push her to accept her Aunt’s offer and return to the desert. 

Mary begins remembering the horrors of her youth piece by piece after returning home. She is meek and insecure and invisible. Mary begins writing strange things in her journal that she cannot remember writing, and starts seeing ghosts of women who had been killed by serial killer Damon Cross 50 years before. Mary gets a temporary job at the old Cross house, which has been converted into the town hospital and school, organizing the medical files that were disorganized when the hospital was moved. Strange things continue to happen, and Mary tries to find answers with the help of her new friend Eleanor, a teenager obsessed with true crime podcasts. 

Without spoiling the story, there are a lot of twists and turns and supernatural things at work in this book. There’s a strange religious cult and lots and lots of blood and gore. Mary’s character development is fantastic as she learns to love and accept herself as she is. I will say, I was almost disappointed and angry with the ending and the FBI agent, but it does wrap up nicely.
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Nat Cassidy 

Mary is middle-aged or rather old and getting older by the day. And one day, like no other day, she begins to experience unexplainable things. Things that don’t happen to women like Mary. 

This was a lot of fun. Mary was a fun character. At first I thought she was going to be written as a deviant and she was nothing of the sort. 

There is a meandering quality to the storyline. And for a horror book that doesn’t have a big story structure it feels long. I think they could have trimmed it down. 

Imagine falling asleep in the bath and having an out-of-body experience. That is this book in a nutshell. And it is as scary as the day you stop being carded at the bar. 

Overall though, for me, MARY was a mix. I think the book was a great concept and Mary as a character was well articulated and very clear. However, the story itself lacked the clarity and succinctness I like in horror fiction.

As a side note, I listened to this on audiobook and thought that Susan Bennett, the narrator, did a fantastic job. She added authenticity to her character and her voice is now forever intertwined with Mary in my mind. 


Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan Audio, Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire for the advanced copies!
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I ended up enjoying this much more than I originally thought I would, especially after reading a few less than glowing reviews. This book definitely has a certain disjointed, almost frenetic style, which admittedly took me a while to get into. Once I had a feel for the writing and the story, however, the style seemed perfect for this book! Readers spend a huge percentage of this book inside Mary's head, inhabiting her thoughts, which often become invasive and feel totally alien to her. She ends up in her childhood town, which is small and tight-knit, with maybe something more sinister going on just below the surface.

This book doesn't try to be nice. It's intensely gory, with detailed descriptions of mutilation, injuries, and death of animals. There's some implied rape and lots of descriptions of Mary's own experiences as a perimenopausal woman, which makes for less than pleasant reading. This was a book I had to read in stops and starts, as it was pretty grim and started affecting my moods. If you like more literary horror (think Stephen King's doorstopper books), and are fine with all the triggers, I think this was a very well-written book and genuinely creepy.

An ARC of this book was provided to me by Netgalley. My reviews are entirely my own.
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this book is DISTURBING. the scene with the aunt and her "loved ones" i doubt i will recover. it has so many twists and turns and the overall vibe just keeps you on edge. i would highly recommend.
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When it comes to horror books I feel like they're either too much or not enough. I'm pretty picky, and it's hard for me to find that sweet spot. I like a gore, but not over the top, and it can't be too cheesy. I also need some psychological twists throughout as well. Mary hit all those marks for me. While I do love a good tension building  kind of book that has you scared to turn the next page, this one was mostly psychological and it was very well done. 

The characters were written so well, and I really enjoyed the dialogue. My favorite, oddly enough, was Nadine. She's a vulgar, abrasive, and generally unkind person, but I found myself looking forward to the scenes with her in them because they were written so well and her dialogue was witty, even when it was biting. 

I also appreciate the general undertones about the strength and perseverance of women, as well as the chastisement of idolizing serial killers (this reminded me specifically of one of my favorite books of the year, so far, Notes On An Execution, so clearly it is a topic I love to see in books!) 

This book really has everything you could ask for in a horror novel - ghosts, gore, conspiracy theories and cults. The only problem with that though, is that the end almost felt like it dragged on. At some points I felt like I was in a Billy Mays commercial - "but wait! there's more!" It was all pretty interesting things that happened, but it didn't feel like it ALL was truly necessary. However, I acknowledge that this book has been in the works by Cassidy for an exorbitant amount of time and I have to respect and appreciate the time and attention that went into fine tuning all the details of the story. There was no stone left unturned and no strings left dangling in the end. I haven't read anything else by Cassidy but consider him a new autobuy author!.
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Mary has spent her life being a wallflower, never standing out or drawing any attention to herself. Middle aged and going through mysterious changes, you know the typical hot flashes, aches, fainting when you look in the mirror and hearing voices in your head. After losing her job, Mary jumps at the chance to return home and reconnect with her roots. However, her plans are thrown for a loop as mutilated and gruesome entities attempt to communicate with her and she is forced to find her connection to a serial killer that died the day she was born.

First, I would like to state I was pleasantly shocked. I had no idea that Nat Cassidy was a male author and the grace and detail that Nat was able to include in his writing regarding society's view and treatment of premenopausal women and women that are no longer "young and desirable" was amazing, to put it lightly. 

But the story itself? Gruesome and terrifying, I definitely had to turn on my bedside lamp reading this one. Animal cruelty is definitely a trigger so please keep that in mind if it is something that will upset you. If you are any bit squeamish, this might not be the read for you. For me, this was my type of horror story. Gripping and thrilling and one that terrorizes you from start to finish.

Mary's rage itself is palpable and believable. Her character is fleshed out thoroughly and I was in love with her from start to finish. Figuring out her past as Mary remembers it was a thrilling ride and kept me guessing and the pages flipping. 

Thank you to Macmillian Tor/Forge for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Mary was a book that had me laughing, cringing, and creeped out all at the same time. The MC was fascinating and while I haven’t read any Stephen King (I know, crazy!) I could kind of see what all the hype was about when comparing the two and now I feel like I have to check out at least one SK….but I digress. 

I loved the Afterword almost as much as the book itself and I so appreciate the author highlighting the plight of the middle aged woman, the invisibility, the usefulness of their womanhood basically gone according to societal standards. This theme was beautifully yet horrifically written and as someone who doesn’t do a ton of horror, I was surprised at how much I loved it. I’d say check this one out if you love horror, know what perimenopause is  or have had a 🔥hot flash🔥or two…
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What a weird book. I do not think this will necessarily be for everyone; however, those who find it and enjoy spookier things may love it like me.
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Much longer than it needed to be or should have been. I get that the author idolizes King but not every horror story has to be a King tome in length. This would have worked better as a shorter story. Even so I didn’t find  it to be horror, more thriller or psychological with some gory bits. Nothing in it shocked or surprised me, and some of the writing was wonky. The twist wasn’t much of a twist. 

That all being said, a horror story about a woman going through menopause is a good idea. The plot works mostly. Don’t get hung up on the fact that it was written by a cis gendered man.
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I didn’t really know what to expect going in, but Mary had me engaged from start to finish. If you are looking for a slow burn horror, with an unreliable narrator, that will make you feel anxious throughout, definitely check this book out.
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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.
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What a book! I'll admit, I'm always skeptical of horror novels written by men (cis white men in particular!) because I've been burned too many times by unnecessary misogynist violence. MARY doesn't lack in violence and gore, but the patriarchy is always under fire in this sharp, propulsive novel. I mean, a horror novel about menopause? Hell yeah! Cassidy's foreword and afterword are particularly poignant in giving shape to the novel and clarifying why he took on this narrative despite being a person who has never been subject to misogyny or the hormonal horrors of menstruation and menopause. MARY was a wild, thrilling ride that I absolutely had to read with the lights on!
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Horror is hard.  Good horror is rare.  This is good horror. It is well written, original, a sharp commentary on society's treatment of middle-aged women (written by a man, no less!). Cassidy, at times, throws a bit too much into the mix resulting in occasional bloat, but it is still incredibly entertaining, surprising and smart.
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I cannot believe this book was written by a man! I totally assumed that Nat Cassidy was female the entire time I read until I finished and looked at the author details. So, this shows me that Nat really did his research on female issues, especially menopause (or perimenopause I should say). My favorite relationship in the book was between Mary and Aunt Nadine. Aunt Nadine is an absolute hoot of a character. I was picturing Mac's mom from It's Always Sunny as I read each piece of her dialogue. The ghosts and gore were quite terrifying, and I can definitely draw the parallel between a Stephen King presentation and this (the author said he loved Carrie). While there were some confusing parts when it came to the townspeople and their beliefs, and what Mary actually "is," I think it all wrapped up nicely at the end. The cactus brutalization during "the sacrifice" I was totally unprepared for and brought a whole different body horror element to the book, but made sense given they were in the middle of the desert. There were a few twists that occurred that were unpredictable, and I liked that! In conclusion, very excellent piece of horror! I can't wait to read more of Nat Cassidy and recommend to fellow horrorphiles!
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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.
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"I'm used to shedding my past the moment it is behind me. It's the best way to keep a clear view of the future."

📚BOOK REVIEW📚 and Happy Pub Day to MARY: AN AWAKENING OF TERROR by @catnassidy. Thank you to the author, @netgalley and the publisher, @tornighfire for the e-ARC.

On the cusp of her 50th birthday, Mary mostly keeps to herself as she navigates hot flashes and body aches. However, after losing her meager paycheck for being "too Jane Eyre and not enough Zendaya" for the NY bookstore she has worked at for years, she gets a frantic phone call from her estranged aunt Nadine in Arroyo, Arizona needing her assistance. Nadine is dying and has no one else to turn to. Not wanting to return to the dusty town of her youth but also not having much of a choice, Mary concedes to help her aunt out for a short while.

Once she arrives in Arizona, strange things start happening to Mary. She can't look in mirrors without fainting and she is remembering more of her sordid childhood and why she has not spoken to her grumpy, rude, ungracious aunt in years. As her memories return, she learns of a town legend - a serial killer that murdered women with bloody sheets over their heads. There is a strange reverence among the townsfolk for the murders and murderer and Mary can tell that they are not telling her everything. Mary can feel in her bones that she is connected to this incident of the past and is determined to figure it out. It does not go how you would expect!

This story has ghosts and monsters, it gets culty, there are murders, there are secret passage ways. There is a LOT going on here but I was in it for the long haul. There were so many twists and turns. I found the concept to be interesting and was both delighted and horrified by Mary and others in the town at times. The dusty, desolate setting made for a desperate, almost trapped atmosphere. You can feel from the very beginning that you are likely dealing with an unreliable narrator but the ways in which that manifests are pretty creepy! There was a point about 3/4 of the way through where I lost a bit of interest but for the most part I kept wanting to know what was going to happen.

There are a lot of intentionally misogynistic and puritan vibes to this story including a plethora of commentary about how aging women are portrayed by society. It is a dusty, suffocating American Gothic that will keep you thirsty for more.

I will leave you with this last twistedly true little quote from the book:

"Nothing feels safer than when someone else is the victim; especially when the next victim could always be you."
#natcassidy #tornightfire #netgalley #earc #booknerd #maryanawakeningofterror #cultbooks #bookstagram #horrorbooks #readmorehorror
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Is Mary a "crazy", peri-menopausal, boring woman or is she something else?

This book is a slow burn that follows Mary, a middle aged woman who is just trying to survive. Out of no where, Mary gets a call from an estranged aunt asking her to be her caretaker. Out of desperation for some sort of human connection, Mary packs a bag and heads to her hometown. Everything goes downhill from there....

This book is wild and I loved it. I wasn't sure what to expect at first, but I'm so glad I stuck with it. This is the most perfect type of unreliable narrator. I'm not sure what other horror books made me laugh and afraid at the same time. 

 My only criticism is that this book is way too long. It took me way too long to read. It did have quite the build up in the beginning that should have been cut down a bit. 

Thank you so much to Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire and NetGalley for a chance to review this gem!
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There's a lot that could be said about this book. I'm not 100% sure where I stand on it right now to be honest. The beginning really does suck the reader in and adds gruesome context to the cover. Absolutely be sure to look up the Trigger Warnings before reading. It can be intense, gory, and has interesting ideas and concepts. That being said, it can also feel fragmented and can drag through in some areas. It could be hard to root for the main character and being in her mind for so many pages can be a drag. Unlikable main characters can be done extremely well, but I feel as if this case needed more work. The twist wasn't very shocking and the ending was almost a let down. So, despite having a lot of negative, there is also quite a bit of positive and I am not at all certain how I feel about this book.
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