Cover Image: Mary

Mary

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Member Reviews

wow wow wow wow wow. I loved it. Thank you so much for this read. I am so grateful. I did not wanna put this down at all. Read it in two days.
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Well, where to begin? 
I finished this two weeks ago & I’ve just been thinking about what to say. And to be honest I’m still not sure 🤣 It sucked me in pretty quick and I was whipping right through till the middle. I struggled for a bit but than it picked back up. 
This was a pretty interesting and unique story. Our protagonist is a middle aged, peri menopausal woman who feels very neglected and overlooked by the world. I think the author captured that feeling perfectly. Although I wasn’t crazy about her being called old so frequently lol
The plot is twisted and definitely over the top. I don’t want to give anything away so we’re just going to leave it at that 😉
Now this is the part that’s a little tricky. The climax was unsettling but I felt like it was missing something. I can’t put my finger on it though. It was one of those books that when I finished, I went back to reread because I thought I missed something. 
Overall it was a good book, I guess I just felt like the pacing and the dread were a little lackluster. 
•there are multiple trigger warnings in this so check that out if you need to. The author does make note of that in the introduction I believe. 
I think I’m going to give this a 3.5/5
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Mary is a 50 something, non-descript woman in almost every way, her physical features, solitary lifestyle, wardrobe, and a quiet job in the basement of a bookstore, but that’s where outward appearances stop. We soon realize Mary is anything but what she displays on the outside. Cassidy did a great job taking someone that goes through a mundane life, unnoticed to by all, to a crescendo of violence, revenge, and horror. Throughout the story there is also dark humor and a vibe that reminds you of Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon. If you’re a fan of serial killers, ghosts, and graphic violence, I highly recommend.
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5/5 Stars
This review is Spoiler Free!

In Nat Cassidy's author's note, he begins by describing how as a child, he loved to look at the covers of horror movies to sort of "test" his own limits, (side note, I thought I was the only one who did this, this was literally my favorite thing ever to do as a kid), when he came across the cover of Stephen King's Carrie.  The blood-drenched Carrie White haunted him, and he confessed to his own mother that he was scared.  His mother explained the story of Carrie in a way that humanized her as a sad, bullied girl.  And that story stuck with him.

Mary, a middle aged, peri-menopausal woman, feels incredibly invisible.  Fired from her bookstore job, she goes back to her home town to help take care of her ailing aunt.  But as she returns, she begins to see things, well - more things.  In additions to the horrible visions she gets when she looks in the mirror, she begins to see terrible, bloody ghosts.  As she continues to adjust to her old town again, Mary begins to recover more from her own fractured past, and finds more questions than answers.  

Wow, I loved this book.  I keep joking with my husband that my idea of an ideal horror novel is for it to just feel like an expertly crafted season of AHS.  With all the twists and gut-wrenching turns of Mary, this truly did have that feel.  Brilliantly crafted, with so much attention to detail, excellent pacing, and phenomenal mythos, this book was totally riveting!  I truly wasn't expecting to love this one as much as I did, but this was absolutely brilliant.  Terrifying and gory, Mary is a chilling character study that will stay with you.

*I received an ARC from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and views in this review are my own.
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2.5 rounded up. A rare miss from Tor Nightfire as far as I’m concerned. This was very disjointed at best and went on far too long in parts. Ham-fisted discussions of women and aging tied in with random inexplicable violence with a sprinkle of mythology that is in no way connected or brought up again.
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I can’t explain how much I loved this book! Easily my favorite so far this year. Cassidy has really outdone himself, and he gives the challenges of the lead heroine it’s due respect. I didn’t think I’d like a book of this nature that was written by a man but I adore it! I’ll be getting the physical copy when it comes out! (Read this on ebook)
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Not light handed with the metaphor that menopause=social invisibility. Still, what other horror novel is going there at all? I mean, even scientists aren’t studying menopause! Thanks to Tor for the ARC.
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Yes! Yes! I knew as soon as I read the first deeply dark chapter of Mary, I was not going to be putting this one down. I was fully immersed in this book. Mary is a completely blood-soaked book, but there is so much more to the story too. This was a gory horror/thriller/paranormal book all in one. 

Mary is a 49 year old woman living in New York. She feels extremely below average. She lives in a nondescript apartment, works in the basement of a bookstore and is told (by a totally dismissive doctor) that she is going through peri-menopause (“textbook case”, he says). Then why is it that Mary can’t even look into a mirror without seeing her face literally rotting away? Why can’t she remember really anything from the past almost 50 years and what’s with the horrific nightmares? She feels like she’s going cr—-…but Mary hates that word. She consults with her “Loved Ones”, her perfect, little, porcelain figurines. They’re all the company she has in her life. 

Suddenly, Nadine, Mary’s estranged aunt, calls asking for help. Before she can really even think, she’s on a plane back to her home town. She hopes she can piece together some of her life while she’s in town. When she arrives, she notices things haven’t changed much…BUT something has begun stirring inside of her. Puzzle pieces have started clicking together. It isn’t long before Mary is headed on a rollercoaster of craziness, bloodshed, ghosts, murder and oh so much more!

Mary is an excellent, fast-paced horror/thriller book by Nat Cassidy. I think he did an amazing job writing Mary’s character. I can’t say enough positive things about this. It was so good! (As a side note; Cassidy does include a note at the beginning with all the content warnings. I think this is a great idea) If you love horror and can handle a lot of graphic content, give this a read! 

Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge - Tor Nightfire and NetGalley for this ARC.
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Mary is a middle-aged pre-menopausal woman living in New York, all alone (with the exception of her Loved Ones) and with a simple bookstore job to keep her occupied. Strange things start happening: women’s faces, if she looks too long, start to decompose in front of her eyes and even her own reflection gives her a fright; she often wakes up having a hard time recalling what happened before she lost consciousness; and she’s easily irritated and angered by the smallest of offenses, enough to lash out. 

When her Aunt Nadine calls (a blast from the past) and asks Mary to come take care of her through her sickness, Mary reluctantly agrees. Upon arrival to her hometown, she discovers her own memory is spotty and unreliable. She starts seeing ghosts of women who were murdered decades ago by a serial killer, and as she starts digging for answers, starts to realize that she herself might be a larger piece to the puzzle. 

What I Loved:
- Firstly, the cover is fantastic. It fits the storyline but really drew me in, honestly. How can you not be curious about this book after seeing that cover?
- I really appreciated the author’s note with heads up on content (mutilation, animal death, implied sexual trauma, misogyny). I think all books should provide this. 
- This theme of “here’s a woman feeling like something is wrong but is gaslighted everywhere and by every single man” was prevalent (for instance, she makes a trip to the doctor and explains what she’s experiencing, she knows her body better than anyone else and is attuned to it, yet the young male doctor hardly listens and talks down to her). Most women, regardless of age, have experienced this at some point or another and that resonated. 
- The main character, Mary, is in her late 40s, about to turn 50 — middle age and all the comes along with it is discussed more frequently but it was refreshing to read a story with a protagonist dealing with life and an age range not often discussed in books. Rarely do we read about older women, and when we do, especially in horror novels, it often seems to be entirely at their expense.  
- There was a point where the storyline turned a bit “culty” and I enjoyed that (anything remotely cultish has my attention!).
- There were parts mostly at the beginning and at the end where there was a switch in the form of writing to not just the usual chapters but to interviews, newspaper articles, and so forth. I enjoyed that aspect and just wish that it had been more consistently sprinkled throughout the novel. 

What I Didn’t Love:
- While the author did give a heads up that there would be a scene of mutilation at some point in the story, I didn’t find it any less disturbing and did wonder whether or not it was entirely necessary. 
- As mentioned before, I wish the other styles of writing had been sprinkled more evenly throughout the novel, incorporating interviews, newspaper articles, etc. a bit more consistently and at pivotal plot points.
- I felt like I kept reading with the hopes that something big would happen or that something “more” would come into the picture (more dread, more something), and I don’t know that I really ever hit a part that gave me that satisfaction. It was an overall good story and had plenty of elements of horror (lots of scenes that were a little disturbing and so forth) but it all felt like it was leading up to something and when we got to that “something,” it wasn’t as earth shattering as I was hoping for and instead I felt like we just kind of coasted through the end. 
- The end left me rolling my eyes a little bit, as it turned into a bit of a “here’s the moral of the story” soapbox. (Surprisingly this is the second horror novel I’ve read in a row with an ending like that, and that was disappointing.)

Overall:
I enjoyed the storyline, the main character and her struggles through middle-aged womanhood (but also struggles that many women can relate to a decade on either side of 50), and some of the more supernatural aspects of this horror novel (though some of these elements did not end up as eerie as I had hoped - maybe for the supernatural reason being a simple explanation for why things were happening which ultimately didn’t add a lot of tension or dread). Squeamish scenes were well-written with plenty of imagery that played out like a movie in my head. The cultish aspects that came into play were also a great addition and wouldn’t have been the same without them. I could’ve done without the “moral of the story” soapbox at the end; I’d rather be trusted as a reader to get out of it what I will, and if I miss some of the lesson meant for the reader, that should just be my own loss. Ultimately, this is one of those that you either purchase with the idea that you’re very certain you’ll enjoy it, or it’ll be one that, after reading the blurb and a few reviews, you feel a bit on the fence about and wait until you can borrow it from a friend or a local library.

*I received an advance reader copy from Macmillan-Tor/Forge & Tor Nightfire via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
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I loved this book. Being a 47 year old woman myself, I can totally relate. This was a different, unique type of horror take. Fully believable. Highly recommend to woman especially.
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Unfortunately, I struggled to get into this book. Couldn't get into the mind of the character and the plot was quite slow.

It was well written and easy to read just not to my tastes.
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My sincere thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the opportunity to read this book. 

A horror novel about menopause, womanhood, and the ways in which society both idolizes and shuns women - this was an interesting tale that read, to me, as more of a social commentary than a horror novel. The story centers on a town full of small minded religious people and a middle aged woman pulled there to care for her awful aunt who, despite her awfulness, is the only family the middle aged woman knows. As she contends with her own problems (chiefly, her visions of potential supernatural entities) and struggles, she learns of the town’s history embedded in cruelty and violence. 

An interesting read for sure. I found it to drag a bit in the middle - but enjoyed it nonetheless.
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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
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"Mary" is a thrilling piece of American Gothic literature that kept me on the edge of my seat. The main character is tenacious and I felt both trapped and enthralled by her journey. The plot was terrifying and felt like a cross between Midsommar and Kate Chopin. Apart from being absolutely terrifying and well-written, I enjoyed the book's commentary on the patriarchy and the unique experience of ageing as a woman.

I found the portrayal of medical discrimination and misogyny to be super realistic: the 49-year-old female protagonist tries to seek help for her strange affliction and is dismissed because of doctors' insistence that everything she is experiencing can be attributed to menopause.
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Personally, this book and I did not get along, but I do think there's an audience for this. I found it to be a really slow burn with the plot shifting directions rapidly at around the 60% mark, but I think horror fans who like books that leave them a puzzle to work with will get more out of this than I did. It is also one of the most violent, bloodiest, goriest horrors I've ever read, so I wouldn't recommend it to those who are made uneasy by that sort of thing. Some of the images in this will really stick with me.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review
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This is an incredible book with a 49 year old female protagonist who finds her inner-strength in the middle of a horrific ordeal.

I couldn't put this book down! From the first bloody moment to the final thrilling conclusion, Cassidy takes readers on a wild gore ride. Mary can't remember her past, so when her bad-mannered aunt falls ill, Mary returns to her little desert town seeking answers. She soon starts hallucinating, only to be told by doctors not to worry because she's menopausal and such symptoms are "textbook." As Mary's visions grow worse, she's convinced that all the answers she seeks lie in the shady murderous past.

Quick paced and filled with thrilling twists, this horror novel captures a reader's attention and refuses to let go. Mary is a believable and sympathetic character who may (or may not) be losing her mind. Like many women of a certain age, Mary's concerns are quickly brushed away by those in her life, but she can't ignore the horrific visions plaguing her or the gnawing voices in her head. The longer she stays in her hometown, the more memories get dragged to the surface, but what's real and what's only a figment of her imagination? 

Cassidy nails the female experience, which is surprising since he's a man in his thirties. Don't let this fool you. His craft shines bright as he dives deep into the insecurities of a middle-aged woman. While this book contains feminist themes, it skillfully avoids being overly preachy. Instead, it sits firmly in the horror genre, ready to induce terrifying nightmares in those brave enough to go on Mary's journey. Hopefully, many will, because this book isn't to be missed!
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An atmospherical American Gothic that goes over the deep end of horror into the realm of insanity. Just when you think the book has reached its climax, it goes on to astound you further. The most insane read I've had in a while.
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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!
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Very very creepy. Had definite Stephen King vibes. Just not something our customers would buy off the shelf, though I am happy to recommend and bring in special order. Good summer read I would suspect.
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A creepy, sometimes graphic, story where things are not always what they seem! I loved the author's note at the beginning of the book. That made me even more interested in the book. This one definitely left me with nightmares for a while!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the digital ARC. All opinions expressed are completely my own.
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