Disclaimer: these opinions are my own. If you don't agree, that's cool :) Also, this review is spoiler free so read at your hearts content.
Gwendolyn Kiste's dark fantasy novella 'Pretty Marys All In A Row' is a haunting yet riveting tale of sisterhood and reclamation of identity. The plot follows Rhee, the Resurrection Mary, who lives in a mansion with the infamous Bloody Mary, Mary Mack, Mistress Mary and Mari Lwyd - all of whom are ghostly legends confined to nourishing themselves on the fear of those they haunt. Yet, their afterlives are threatened as a darkness moves to tear apart their sisterhood. One of the highlights of the book was certainly the dark, dreamy and spooky atmosphere which is driven not only by Kiste's poetic and flowing prose but also by the suspenseful mystery behind the Marys. The characters themselves were also incredible with each of the Marys holding their own unique personality with the details of their legend described with a beautiful yet creepy undertone. What also shines throughout this book is the many thought-provoking messages that are laced within the narrative. The topic of losing one's identity is shown through the characters as they are stripped of their memories and names in favour of the labels of 'Mary'. Their fight to regain their individuality also centres around the power of female self-esteem, individuality and sisterhood/friendship. The fact that Kiste is able to work such important and inspiring messages into such a unique and haunting narrative is impressive enough, let alone that she twists these folklores and fairytales to perfectly suit these messages. Overall, 'Pretty Marys All In A Row' is perfect for anyone looking for a quick yet frightening and haunting read. The creepiness and eeriness of the prose and the characters really draws us in for a fantastical yet spooky experience that is highly recommended.
About Gwendolyn Kiste...
CLAIRE L. SMITH is an Australian author, poet and filmmaker. Her debut gothic horror novella, HELENA is due for release via Clash Books in October 2020.