Mary: An Awakening of Terror

Nat Cassidy. Nightfire, $21.99 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-1-250-26523-4

Playwright and podcaster Cassidy’s razor-sharp horror debut explores women’s roles as either prey or predator and cuts deeply into the societal structures that promotes the split. On the brink of turning 50, Mary Mudgett is fired from her job at a New York bookstore and haunted by visions of decaying older women. Returning home to Arizona to care for her elderly aunt Nadine, Mary is surprised to find these images escaping her nightmares and revealing themselves to her as ghosts. Teaming up with Eleanor, a local teen fascinated by true crime podcasts, she uncovers ties between her ghosts and the serial killer Damon Cross. While confronting both the bullies of her youth and the new cult that takes Cross as their prophet, Mary discovers that she may have a personal, past-life connection to the murders. And, when her delusions are casually dismissed as a “textbook” menopause case, Mary proves herself capable of rewriting her entry—in blood if necessary. Cassidy expertly twists the invisibility and disposability of society’s most vulnerable into qualities ideally suited to a terrifying avenging angel. It’s as scary as it is smart. Agent: Alec Shane, Writers House. (July)
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