Weird dark urban fantasy that follows the (after)lives and times of five ghosts and their haunts. Pretty Marys All in a Row combines contemporary fairy tale and urban legend in a story that shows that being dead isn't always a bed of roses.
You’ll find her on a lonely highway, hitchhiking at midnight. She calls herself Rhee, but everyone else knows her by another name: Resurrection Mary. And when she’s transported home each night to a decrepit mansion on a lane to nowhere, she’s not alone.
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.
Gwendolyn Kiste is a speculative fiction author based in Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Shimmer, Interzone, LampLight, Flash Fiction Online, and Three-Lobed Burning Eye as well as Flame Tree Publishing's Chilling Horror Short Stories anthology, among others. Her debut collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, was published by JournalStone in April 2017.
A native of Ohio, she currently resides on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts.