In the antique mirror, call her name three times, and Bloody Mary will appear. Outside, wandering through a garden of poisonous flowers is Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary, a nursery rhyme come to gruesome life. Downstairs is another jump-rope rhyme—Mary Mack, forever conscripted to build her own coffin. And brooding in the corner with her horse skull is the restless Mari Lwyd.
They are the Marys, the embodiment of urban legend and what goes bump in the night. Every evening, they gather around the table and share nightmares like fine wine, savoring the flavors of those they’ve terrified.
But other than these brief moments together, the Marys are alone, haunting a solitary gloom that knows them better than they know themselves. That’s because they don’t remember who they were before—or even if there was a before. And worst of all, they don’t know how to escape this fate.
That is, until a moment of rage inspires Rhee to leap from the highway—and into the mirror with Bloody Mary. Suddenly, the Marys are learning how to move between their worlds, all while realizing how much stronger they are together.
But just when freedom is within their reach, something in the gloom fights back—something that isn’t ready to let them go. Now with her sisters in danger of slipping into the darkness, Rhee must unravel the mystery of who the Marys were before they were every child’s nightmare. And she’ll have to do it before what’s in the shadows comes to claim her for its own.
"Folklore and fairy tales," Gwendolyn says, "have always been a huge inspiration for me, both for their whimsy and their remarkably dark underpinnings. As a horror writer, there’s nothing as familiar and unsettling as many of the original fairy tales most of us grew up reading.
"In that vein, Pretty Marys All in a Row started from a conversation I had with my husband, who is a fellow devotee of folklore. He and I went through all the Marys who appear in fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and other legends. It’s astounding when you list them all, how often the name appears in different incarnations (ditto for the Jacks, though he’ll have to wait for another story).
"That conversation led me to a series of questions that immediately unnerved me. What if these Marys know they’re storybook legends—and what if they want no part of it? If the choice to be in our folklore was never theirs to make, then what if we’re perpetuating their torment by continually retelling these tales? And if the Marys, like Resurrection Mary and Bloody Mary in particular, are the embodiment of nightmares, then what kind of powerful force controls the nightmares? That last question terrified me most of all—the notion of something else, something unknown to them, controlling the Marys—and from there, Pretty Marys All in a Row was born.
"Ultimately, the story became one about loss and identity and finding yourself and your home and family, even when all other choices have been ripped away from you. To have Pretty Marys join the incredible roster of releases at Broken Eye Books is beyond thrilling and humbling. This is a journey that’s been a wonderful one to take as a writer, and I hope that readers feel the same way."
Pretty Marys All in a Row will be released in the Fall/Winter of 2017.