Cover Image: Mary


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Member Reviews

I could not put this down! I loved the body horror, the rage, the representation of perimenopause and how women are treat by healthcare professionals. This is dark, funny, and a must read!

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I really tried to get through this one, but I’m not a fan of retellings…. So this just wasn’t for me.

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I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for the advanced reading copy of Mary by Nat Cassidy.

This is easily the goriest horror novels I have ever read (granted I haven’t read much in the horror genre). The imagery that Nat Cassidy creates in this novel will stay with me and the writing is so descriptive and grotesque.

This novel focuses on Mary who is a middle-aged woman, busy trying to be good and unseen. Mary finds herself leaving New York City to go back to her home town. Here she is hoping to find her past and present self. When back home Mary begins seeing hallucinations and writing strange messages in her notebook or is there more truth to what she is hearing and writing than even she herself knows?

Being inside Mary’s head is absolutely exhausting. I love how this novel is a tribute to Carrie and also the concept of menopause and aging women in society. I also appreciated the author’s note at both the beginning and end of this book. The only downside was that the novel was longer. I feel like if it had been even 50 pages shorter and edited more of the repetitive conversation this could have been even more horrifying.

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This was a fantastic horror book! Telling the story through Mary and the way in which the story progressed kept me interested and engaged throughout. The only negative I have is that the book felt a bit too long at times. I would definitely read more by this author. I think Nat Cassidy has a unique way of telling a story.

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I could not finish this. Not my cup of tea. A little too cryptic, and a little too gory for me. I can't give an honest rating of this book, because it was clear early on that I am not the right reader for this kind of work.

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<b>TW: Language, bullying, ageism, toxic family relationships, cancer, smoking, child abuse, death of parents, toxic friendships, depression, anxiety, violence </b>

<b>About the book:</b>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.
<b>Release Date:</b> July 19th, 2022
<b>Genre:</b> Horror
<b>Pages:</b> 405
<b>Rating:</b> ⭐

<b>What I Liked:</b>
1. Ohh I like the cover

<b>What I Didn't Like:</b>
1. Some parts rambled on and on
2. Nadine
3. The story felt so unbelievably pointless
4. Book was too long

<b>Overall Thoughts:</b>
I found it odd that Mary never reads in this whole book. She worked at a bookstore, so she clearly liked books but why is she not reading.

How does Mary's reflective thing work that she is scared of mirrors but she looks at her reflection on other items?

I'm confused why Mary at the last minute decided to go take care of Nadine. She just lost her job and rent is getting raised so why would she waste what money she has left to take care of someone that is abusive to her.

God, Nadine is so annoying and vulgar.

It got on my nerves how much you're reminded that Mary is weird and there's something off.

The rambling makes me stare off and want to dnf every 50 pages. How can things happen but I feel so bored.

Oh Mary finds the word Azazel and all I thought about was Supernatural.

How did Carol know that the Mary that had handprints in the concrete was the Mary in the house.

I am soooooo sick about how weird Mary is.

I swear to God this is the longest book.

The way the book was written it felt like it was the 90s. Mary has an answering machine. Eleanor suggested going to her house to use the computer but what teenager doesn't own a laptop or even her phone? Mary doesn't own a mobile, but why? It's never mentioned or explained.

So the ending is that the town is a cult. The William is actually running this cult like it's Hostel the movie and that people can come to torture and abuse people. Okay 😒 I should have dnfed - I missed nothing.

<b>Final Thoughts:</b>
I got zero vibes of Carrie in this book. But this book and Carrie have two things going for them; I hate them both.

I seriously had to power through to finish this book. I don't know why either. I wasn't having a good time reading it at all. I think I wanted to know why everyone talks and loves this book so much, but now I feel even more confused.

This book spends a copious amount of time talking about things that don't matter. The action scenes are over described and confusing when trying to picture them. I felt like there was no focus.

I feel like I understand 10% of what was happening and why.

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<i>Thanks to Netgalley and Tor Nightfire for this gifted copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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A very unique story about conquering our inner demons and finding our true selves. This book was too graphic and violent for my taste, but after I made it a third of the way into the story, it became interesting and held my attention. This novel is dark and twisted, but being middle aged myself, I found this oddly relatable. It made for a good horror read during Halloween week.

Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire for this digital arc in exchange for my honest review which is not affiliated with any brand.

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This was definitely a well written horror book that I think many horror lovers will enjoy. Many parts of this book make me want to throw up. The Carrie going through menopause comparison is definitely accurate. I do think this could have been cut down a little, and ultimately this was too much of the graphic horror that I just don't enjoy. I will definitely pick up this author again though.

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This book was insane, dark, and twisty from start to finish! There was so much that I was not expecting and Mary's character grew and grew in her fascination! This book was difficult to put down!

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How? How? HOW????
Nat Cassidy has pulled off a feat of writing with this one. I was shocked to find out after I had finished that Cassidy is actually a man. Why? Because the way he has created a fully formed, complex middle aged woman does not seem possible to do as a man. Mary is so so so good, one of the best horror novels of the year, and most of all it is just plain fun! I am an instant Nat Cassidy fanboy, I will read everything this guy publishes.

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Mar took me on a journey I wasn't expecting. Every time I thought I had this story figured out or knew what direction we were heading in, there was another curveball. I've had this on on my shelves for quite some time, and after seeing several stellar and high-praising reviews, I decided to finally give it a go. With all that being said, this one just wasn't for me. I can appreciate what Cassidy was trying to do with themes of menopause and how women of a certain age are "passed over" like they don't exist. The writing was great, the scenes were vivid and easy to picture. I just think there was a lot going on, TOO much gong on, for the points Cassidy was trying to make. I lost interest about half way through but pushed through because I wanted to find out what the hype was about.

Ultimately, I think this wasn't for me, and my tastes.
3 stars

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This was a unique story. I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you to the author and publisher for my copy in exchange for a review.

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I started reading this book while being a caregiver to my Mom. I could somewhat relate to Mary given my age and other circumstances. I was all on board for most of the book. I don't want to spoil anything, but once you learn about the history of the town, things get a little sideways. That's ok, because I like bizzaro horror as well, just unexpected. This book referenced "The Awakening" quite a bit, so with the main theme of the book, I would like to read it too. I really enjoyed the writing and the internal dialog.

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I have been chasing the high from reading this particular book for half a year now and still haven't encountered anything that kept me as enraptured. We need more older protagonists in horror!! And this one had everything: cults, family trauma, small towns, prophecies, serial killers, archives... Brilliant!

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Idiosyncratic belief systems, calculated yet volatile characters, and unsolved crimes all carry an unsettling mystique and speak to a horror of uncertainty that calls out to many of us. Readers will find this and more in Nat Cassidy's debut horror novel, MARY: AN AWAKENING OF TERROR, described as a blending of MIDSOMMAR, AMERICAN PSYCHO, and I'LL BE GONE IN THE DARK. MARY offers a tale that contains the terrifying themes of these three stories while adding other topics filled with uncertainty such as aging and the afterlife. What makes MARY an entertaining read is the unexpected way Cassidy combines a handful of themes that prove to work on their own. But what makes MARY stand out as an interesting new horror novel is how it centers the often neglected voices of middle-aged women, presents a social commentary on the violent voice of the patriarchy, and gives readers a thrilling and satisfying revenge story as the icing on the cake.

MARY: AN AWAKENING OF TERROR follows a 49-year-old woman named—you guessed it—Mary who, in her middle age, feels constantly overlooked. She lives alone in New York City, works at a bookstore where her manager frequently forgets she's an employee, and continues to internalize her childhood trauma without support. On top of this and the onset of menopause, Mary hears an aggressive voice urging her to commit violence and can't look in a mirror without passing out from the putrid images she finds staring back.

When her verbally abusive aunt reaches out asking for help after years of estrangement, Mary decides to return to her hometown, located in the middle of the desert, with the hope of reclaiming her past, her identity, and her power. Soon after her arrival, Mary begins seeing disturbing, mutilated ghosts and auto-writing bizarre phrases. As she learns more, Mary discovers a connection between these weird experiences and a vicious, local serial killer. When new murders arise in town, Mary decides to take action and investigate the strange secrets occupying this small desert community. What she finds leads her to a startling revelation and the perfect opportunity to take back control over her life.

Mary, the protagonist, is a character readers can easily champion. From the beginning, Cassidy sets the foundation for us to empathize with Mary. For example, when Mary informs her doctor of her strange experiences of fainting at the sight of her own reflection, he dismisses her concerns as "perimenopause." End of story. We want Mary's doctor to listen and take her concerns seriously, and it's infuriating when he responds only with condescension. This unfortunately common experience garners a shared sense of frustration and also expresses a piece of the social message Cassidy pins throughout the novel: that oppressive patriarchal voices diminish and all-too-often usurp the voices of women.

Following this feminist thread, the epigraphs to each chapter of MARY reveal other prominent themes, perhaps even more than the comparison to MIDSOMMAR, AMERICAN PSYCHO, and I'LL BE GONE IN THE DARK. Many chapters begin with quotes from Kate Chopin's 1899 novel THE AWAKENING, which tells the story of a woman struggling to reconcile the traditional views of femininity in the American South with her increasingly unconventional (for the time) opinions. The protagonist, Edna, feels trapped in her marriage, her motherhood, and the social constraints placed upon her. As these feelings grow, Edna seeks freedom and independence through means condemned by turn-of-the-century Louisiana society. MARY: AN AWAKENING OF TERROR certainly shares themes with this early feminist work and the inspiration definitely shows. As a single, middle-aged woman, Mary is defined by a misogynistic society as invisible and useless. Like Edna, the labels placed on women confine Mary to a life she desperately wants and fights to escape.

In his afterward titled "What's This Asshole Doing Writing a Book about Menopause," Nat Cassidy acknowledges the gray areas of writing this novel from the privileged position of a cisgendered man. Raising the question of can—or should—he tell this story, Cassidy admits he doesn't really know, but that it's a very valid and complex question that deserves attention even if it's not his place to provide an answer. He shares that Mary's story first came to him as a teenager after reading Stephen King's CARRIE, which he addresses in more detail in the introduction of the book. Whether or not Cassidy should or should not be the one telling this story, it's clear he spent time considering this question, researching women's health and experiences, and consulting his editors to ensure he represented Mary sensitively and to the best of his abilities.

Overall, MARY: AN AWAKENING OF TERROR throws a varitey of themes on its pages and manages to stick the landing. If you enjoy true crime, the paranormal, cults, weird theology and religious practices, dynamic characters, a desert setting, revenge narratives, feminist commentary, Greek mythology, slashers, detective stories, or anything horror related, I can guarantee you'll find something to appreciate in this book.

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It pains me to leave this as a DNF, but I had a difficult time wanting to pick this book up again after setting it down.

I loved Cassidy's dedication to his mom at the beginning of the book, and as a perimenopausal middle-aged lady, I could relate to Mary's rage more than I probably should.

I'm going to try this book again at a later date on audio to see if it works better for me that way because I do want to know what happens. Loads of people have really enjoyed this book, so I would recommend trying it and seeing if it clicks for you or not.

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I liked this book. The psychological aspect was interesting and it was cool to “see” into Mary’s mind and her thought process. I don’t want to spoil anything but this book is a roller coaster of twists and turns. It has some mystery elements to it and it was fun to try and figure out what is going to happen next. The authors writing is excellent and keeps you hooked. I love good character description and development.

The supernatural parts of the book were interesting and different. It’s almost like a mystery/ghost story/psychological thriller with blood.

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This book is great! Would definitely recommend. Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

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Unfortunately, I have been locked out of my netgalley account for a few months and was not able to see which books I had on my list or even know to check if they downloaded properly, in order to properly read and review. I do apologize and am doing a 3 for neutral. Will update once I’m able to obtain a copy and read!

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Had I written this review immediately upon finishing the book, I would have given it 4 stars. It's been a week, and I can't stop thinking about it. This is a successfully unsettling, yet sensitive exploration into what it means to be a middle-aged woman in a society that has decided you are past your usefulness and how we internalize that perception, in Mary's case quite literally.

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