An Awakening of Terror
by Nat Cassidy
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Pub Date 19 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 19 Jul 2022
Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire
Nat Cassidy’s highly commercial, debut horror novel Mary: An Awakening of Terror, blends Midsommar with elements of American Psycho and a pinch of I'll Be Gone in the Dark.
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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, 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.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 101 members
"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.
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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