Cover Image: Mary


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Member Reviews

Mary: An Awakening of Terror. Wow what a book. I loved the whole premise and the thought behind this book. A Carrie who never lit the town on fire? Sign me up! There’s some great spooky and downright gruesome moments in this one. I will says whoever, animal cruelty and death will almost surely knock a star off everytime.
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Mary by Nat Cassidy is a provocative, peri-menopausal horror novel that coexists alongside the great Carrie by Stephen King. It's brutal, gory, and keeps you guessing until the twist towards the end, that I did not see coming! 'Mary' is a woman in her 40s who has come to the realization of her new supernatural power. There are moments where it feels like there are unnecessarily long portions in the text that could have been removed without changing the story, but overall, it's still enjoyable for the thrill! Trigger Warning: There is a large amount of violence, as well as animal abuse. I highly suggest this for fans of Carrie with doses of Hereditary moments inside.
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I just finished Mary by Nat Cassidy and these are my thoughts on it, 

Mary was so used to being an invisible woman to the world around her. The life suited her, a job in a bookstore, her porcelain dolls, then all that changes after she loses her job. What can a middle aged woman do in the world now? 

Then a call comes in from her aunt, the woman who raised her after a house fire killed her parents. A woman who bullied and belittled her, all the while she was being bullied at school. But her aunt is begging her to come home to help her, she is dying. To sweeten the deal she offers to pay for her help. What choice does Mary have anyway. Things are happening to her that she doesn’t understand. Voices in her head, avoiding mirrors and nightmares….  

She thinks going home might be for the best but the town seems to still be gripped by a serial killer who was gunned down and killed by police on the day she was born…. 

This book gave me chills so bad. The writing was beyond gruesome! It was exactly what I was looking for in a horror book! I loved the build up of who Mary was and what was going on with her but the book was really long for a horror and I feel it really could have been condensed down without losing the magic. 

Mary, to begin with, feels like a lonely middle aged woman with no real family. Unloved and broken by a world that didn’t seem to understand her. As the book progresses you will find that this wasn’t the case at all as Mary begins to learn and remember what it was like living with her aunt before leaving the small town in Arizona. 

The town has a dark edge to it and I loved watching that all unfold and aunt Nadine, being a conspiracy theorist… Loved it. She’s my kind of lady! This book pulled out all the stops to give you the kind of nightmares you haven’t had since you were a child! I was thoroughly creeped out! I loved the serial killer elements too!

The only downside was I felt it was too long. If you really enjoy long books then this one will knock your socks off!

4 stars! Thank you netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge, for my ARC in exchange for you honest review.
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Closer to 4.5

I wasn't sure what to expect going into this one but whatever it was, this wasn't it! Very gory and descriptive so if that isn't your thing, I'd be cautious to read this one (the author kindly puts trigger warnings at the beginning of the novel, I appreciate that). Yes, the book was long and yes, it had a lot going on; I can't say that it bothered me though. While the book is dark dark dark, Mary's inner dialogue also made me chuckle a bit. Amongst all the violence, the evil villains, the culty/religious town, and the supernatural aspects, Cassidy wove in the prominent theme of misogyny and the affliction of life as a middle-aged woman. I know I may not be phrasing it all correctly (I don't find myself to be a particularly effective reviewer as I am generally used to writing reviews for myself and my shoddy memory). This is absolutely a horror book, but there is also an important commentary behind the story. P.S. I loved Nadine. I don't know or think she was meant to be a likeable character but I thought she was fucking hilarious. She was twisted and unhinged and she is a character I won't forget.
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A rare moment in time, Nightfire publishes a book that I absolutely did not get along with. I’m sure that I’m in the minority, so I still encourage horror enthusiasts to try this one out. 

This is a DNF for me. I made it roughly 100 pages in. 

If you write a 400 page slow burn of a slog where your main character is not only naive, 50 and boring: It’s going to be a hard pass. 

An homage to Carrie? Maybe. I can see some of the elements present. But I think that’s where the expectations vs reality really came into play for me. 

Disappointing because the opening line of “there’s a corpse in the bathtub” normally would have my FULL attention.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire for the digital advanced reader's copy.


Mary is nearly 50, and her life has not gone as she thought it would. She's just been fired from her job, and now she's heading back to her unhappy childhood home to take care of her belligerent Aunt Nadine.

She feels useless and invisible and never Good enough.

She talks to porcelain figurines.

She starts seeing terrifying ghosts.

She may be the worst of all words - the c-word often used to dismiss women. She may be crazy.

This book won't be for everyone. It is incredibly violent. Plus, you spend the entire book peering out at the world from Mary's point of view, and that's a hard, desolate place to be oftentimes.

And yet . . . I found it utterly fascinating and absorbing. I haven't read Chopin's The Awakening, but the quotations used from it were pitch-perfect for Mary's own awakening awareness of who she really is.

Mary is a complicated, layered character trying to survive in a menacing, dread-filled town. Who can she trust? Which of her memories are real?

Enter this world of serial killers, reincarnation, murder cults, secret labyrinths, cyclical trauma, mental illness, and feminist undercurrents at your own risk.

*language, graphic violence, sexual situations
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A gothic atmospheric read about an older woman dealing with a change, just not what you'd expect. This was a great book with great twists.
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Thank you to @NetGalley and @TorNightfire for the ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review. (Posted on Good Reads & my IG on 6/20)

I’ll probably be in the minority here, but despite all the awesome horror elements present in this novel, it was hard for me to finish. My main takeaway with this one is that it’s just a mishmash of different parts that don’t add up to anything spectacular.

Mary’s internal dialogue is rather repetitive, and I caught myself thinking “yeah yeah, ok we get it…let’s move along now” more often than not. The incessant droning on and rehashing of the same two or three conceptual threads of our main character’s psyche started to eventually bog this story down for me. I dreaded picking this back up every time I tried to finish. Every time I came back to it it was just more of the same.

I’m a big fan of all the elements presented here, but this story is somehow LESS than a sum of all its parts. At its core I thought I could enjoy this novel, but the execution  just made me feel like I read about twice as much as was there (and not in a good way, it genuinely felt like work to push through after about 1/4 in.) More than anything it just felt overwritten to hell. This one definitely pushed me into a reading slump.
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While the prose and basic premise were great, I found the plot dull and dragging. There were so many places in the novel where pages could be cut without hindering the story. Mary wasn't a likable character, though I appreciated the middle-aged female protagonist; you don't see that enough in fiction. 

Overall, the novel was okay. It wasn't bad and it wasn't great. There were just too many things going on that didn't always connect, and the book was much longer than it needed to be.
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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.  This one was not that.  In fact, the trigger warning is very long in the forward.  This one 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 triggerful 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 Kings 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.
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This book will easily be on my year end list of best horror books in 2022. The pacing of this book was perfect and I read the first sixty percent in one day simply because it had me enthralled from the first page. The titular character was a puzzling joy to follow. Is Mary good or a psychopath? At times, I wasn't sure but you couldn't help but to feel sympathy for her. You want to root for her and have a win. I didn't think a middle aged menopausal woman character would affect me as it did but this is a testament to the author's ability to paint a picture with words and trap you in this world. 

Speaking of characters, Aunt Nadine had me in a love/hate relationship with her throughout the book! Bitter, resentful, mean, and nasty but also a foul mouthed, take no prisoners, chain smoking old lady that will not mince her words no matter who you are. She was a unique character that truly stole the show when she appeared on the pages. 

This book features many horrific scenes, often very bloody, but the author handles them with a certain kind of love for the genre that showed in his writing. 

I would highly recommend this book without hesitation to fans of the horror genre. The secrets are deliciously revealed slowly but surely and each one brings a new sense of creepiness and tension.
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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 'it really doesn't need to be this long' side, 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 a general vibe of this novel.
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Enjoyment: 4.5
Total rating: 4.57

Mary is one of those people who blend in the background. She was raised by her aunt and bullied at home and school. She left her hometown as soon as she could. Her life remained unremarkable until now.

At 49, her body is changing; with the hot flashes and body aches came bizarre symptoms her doctor chucked up to menopause. Mary is sure that the voices in her head and the horrible things she sees in the mirror are not that simple. When her aunt calls her asking for help and bound by a sense of duty, Mary returns to her hometown, the last thing she wants.

Mary is such a compelling and authentic character. I honestly thought Nat Cassidy was a middle-aged woman using real-life experiences to give her more dimension. Nope, he is a man. One whose writing is as compelling as his mind is wicked.

I find it impossible to talk about Mary without spoiling it. Cassidy indeed took us on a journey that became scarier and more twisted as it went. The atmosphere is superb, albeit dark and intensely gloomy. Mary manages to be unlikable and endearing. While reading the book, I wanted to hug her and yell at her intermittently.

An incredible debut that will haunt you for weeks after reading it.

Disclaimer: In exchange for an honest review, I am thankful to the publishers and NetGalley for providing a copy of Mary: An Awakening of Terror.
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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.
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First off, I really, really enjoyed reading Mary. There were some things I wasn’t too keen on, but reflecting back on them, it really didn’t take away my utter joy & horror reading this. 

Mary took me a little longer to read than expected, not because the book didn’t keep me invested, but because I was too invested. What I mean is, is that I was left alone for a week, myself, in my house I share with my fiancé, and this book wound me up. I haunted me. The night before my fiancé left for the week,I woke up in the middle of the night needing the bathroom and as I got up to go, the darkness of the room, the hallway, the bathroom, the tub with the the curtain pulled round, freaked me out so god damn bad that I ended up racing back to bed and holding my bladder until the sun shone through our curtains. I’ve never been affected by a book like this before. I’m normally a very ‘It’s not real’ type of guy, but there is something about this book, especially the first 50% that really got under my skin. I didn’t read for that whole week because I knew if I continued reading while I was alone, it would really make my brain play up on me. 

From the very first chapter, Mary really pulled me into her jaws. The further I read, the more invested and intense my feelings got for the novel. I quickly became a detective while reading, constantly churning the cogs in my head, trying to piece together the crumbs Cassidy was leaving for us on page, trying to callout what might happen further into the book. (Not really a spoiler alert, but minus one thing, everything I thought was going to happen….Did not happen.)

The balance between horror elements felt well fleshed out & I adored how well they blended in with each other. We have an eerie small town with secrets, a previous past of serial killings, a women on the brink of insanity & unexplained killings beginning to surface, and although that may seem like a lot to work around and to get right, Cassidy really managed to keep the intrigue on all aspects and it’s one of the mains reasons I was so besieged by it. 

Mary is an absolute treat of a book for horror fans. For this being a debut horror novel, it’s one hell of a rollercoaster and I can’t wait to see what Cassidy feeds us next.
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This author is talented and I am curious to see what other novels are written in the future. Mary has an interesting premise, and I thought the scary scenes were well done. However, I didn’t feel attached to any of the characters and it’s hard for me to fully invest when I don’t have that feeling about who I am reading about. If you’re a horror fan, it’s worth a read.
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Love, love, love this book. Mary lives alone and thinks she might be losing her mind. Odd things start to happen to her and Mary quickly becomes an unreliable narrator.
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Mary by Nat Cassidy follows Mary Mudgett, a 49-year-old woman who begins to have strange symptoms that doctors have written off as menopause. She (begrudgingly) returns to her hometown of Arroyo to take care of her Aunt Nadine. There, she must face her past memories while she simultaneously seeks to carve out a new identity for herself amid the strange residents of the small desert town.

This book is fantastic. On a baseline level, it is expertly written in a style that is refreshing in its originality. I have never read a book written in quite this way and found myself in awe of it. It is descriptive yet engaging, jarring and yet elegant all the same. 

As for the plot, I found that it held an underlying tension and mystery that led to an exciting conclusion. To be honest, there is one scene near the end of the book that almost put me off the book entirely. It had been 5 stars up until that part, and I was so disturbed I wasn't sure I could continue. But, when I sat back to think about it, I thought it is a horror novel after all. So, perhaps that is the point. Some of the scenes in this book will continue to stick with me long after having finished.

I enjoyed the discussion on the perception of women aging, menopause, and the overall "female experience" throughout the book. It didn't feel as heavy-handed and "preachy" as other feminist-inspired fiction on the market right now. I appreciated the tactful way in which it was handled.

I've seen several reviews that put down Aunt Nadine as "nasty" or a whole host of other negative attributes. While I agree that Aunt Nadine says and does some terrible things, I also think she was my favorite character. She provides wonderful comic relief amid the tense atmosphere of the plot. Plus, "It's like plain yogurt came to life" will forever be in my repertoire of insults and descriptions. 

Overall, I recommend any fan of horror pre-order this book. I don't think you'll regret it. It is a plot and writing style that feels different from other works in the horror genre, and I found it to be engaging and haunting. 

I will definitely be keeping an eye on anything else that Nat Cassidy writes in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Nightfire for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!
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Where do we begin.  Mary Mudgett just cannot catch a break.   She is a Middle aged woman, no companionship, close friends or family.  She is almost non-existent and living in a bubble of loneliness.

She ends up being called back home to care for an aunt who is emotionally abusive and treats Mary like garbage.  As the story unfolds we start to learn some really dark things about Mary’s past and the town that she grew up in.  There’s a bit of folk horror and all out Serial killer  brutality in this story.

This book was absurd and clever.  I would liken the tone of this book to the movie Fargo (which happens to be among my fav movies of all time). At the core this book is really bleak and explores some depressing truths about  how Middle Aged women and their functionality in our society can be sadly viewed.  The author gives just the right amount of comedic relief to off set some of the more depressing ideas and had me  laughing out loud. I mean there’s  a scene in the book where one of the characters uses a sanitary napkin to dress a wound and I was like this is just ridiculous, but I enjoy that ridiculous absurd kind of humor in horror books.

Overall it was a horror story exploring serious themes that I feel the author crafted together nicely.  Even his afterword was moving.  I will say there was a bit of a pacing issue for me. There was a point towards the middle where I kind of felt like we were going in circles about the same thing, but it really picked up in the 3rd act and wrapped up nicely in the end.  Even though I was a little frustrated with one part of the ending, but it did not take away from my overall enjoyment of this book.

I would highly recommend but this is a slow burn so if you prefer faster paced stories this may not be for you, but I would still recommend this because it really was a unique story.

Thank you to netgalley and Tornightfire for this e-arc copy in exchange for my honest review
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I thought Mary was a very interesting character but being in her mind for over 400 pages was unpleasant. I think the fact that the reader knows what's happening WELL before she does, it made waiting for her to get caught up feel really tedious and annoying. I would have preferred learning things at the same rate as her and being confused right along with her, OR that whole process of her learning things just not have been dragged out as long. I liked a lot about this book but also a lot I didn't. I loved what it was trying to say but wasn't completely thrilled by how it went about saying it, or how long it took to get there. I loved the first 20% and the last 20%. Everything in between I went back and forth with. I'm definitely intrigued by this author though and will keep an eye out for their future releases.
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