The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyne Kiste Review

Atmosphere? Horrifying plot? Great lead character? It's all in here.


The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste
Dark Fiction, 252 pages
Released November 2018
Goodreads | Buy A Copy Here 

Something’s happening to the girls on Denton Street.

It’s the summer of 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio, and Phoebe Shaw and her best friend Jacqueline have just graduated high school, only to confront an ugly, uncertain future. Across the city, abandoned factories populate the skyline; meanwhile at the shore, one strong spark, and the Cuyahoga River might catch fire. But none of that compares to what’s happening in their own west side neighborhood. The girls Phoebe and Jacqueline have grown up with are changing. It starts with footprints of dark water on the sidewalk. Then, one by one, the girls’ bodies wither away, their fingernails turning to broken glass, and their bones exposed like corroded metal beneath their flesh.

As rumors spread about the grotesque transformations, soon everyone from nosy tourists to clinic doctors and government men start arriving on Denton Street, eager to catch sight of “the Rust Maidens” in metamorphosis. But even with all the onlookers, nobody can explain what’s happening or why—except perhaps the Rust Maidens themselves. Whispering in secret, they know more than they’re telling, and Phoebe realizes her former friends are quietly preparing for something that will tear their neighborhood apart.

Alternating between past and present, Phoebe struggles to unravel the mystery of the Rust Maidens—and her own unwitting role in the transformations—before she loses everything she’s held dear: her home, her best friend, and even perhaps her own body.

These Are My Thoughts:

“Pray for the Rust Maidens


Even after all these years, those words suck the breath right out of my chest.”



After hearing about this book from several book pushing friends, I had a loud niggling feeling that I was going to enjoy this story from the very beginning but I wasn’t prepared for just how much I was going to LOVE it because I am such a grumpy, jaded reader most of the time.

The Rust Maidens is a look at a town falling to ruin and the people hanging on for dear life because they have no other choice. There’s an overall feeling of inertia, decay and depression as folks attempt to go about their lives as if nothing terrifying were happening to their town, to their lives, to their daughters . . .

Phoebe returns to the childhood home she left 28 years earlier to help move her dad into a nursing home. The return triggers memories of the past and the terrifying occurrences that forever after left an enormous blight on the town. When Phoebe was a teen five girls, one of them her best friend, began to suffer from a strange affliction. The affliction starts to change them physically and earns them the moniker “The Rust Maidens” and it appears the affliction has returned to strike again. The body horror is real and it is horrifying and that’s all I’m saying about it.

Once I started The Rust Maidens, I had a difficult time putting it down to live my life because I needed to know what the heck was happening to these girls. There aren’t a lot of stories that manage to hook me the way this one this did. The writing is intimate and beautifully disturbing. I’m a huge fan of body horror when done for more than gross-out effect (well, ok, I do like those too if they look like Jeff Goldblum in THE FLY) but this story gets it all right. There’s just something about losing control of your entire self and transforming that terrifies and calls to me to read more . . .

I thought Phoebe was a terrific character and a faithful friend who feels all of her attempts to help only succeed in making matters worse and she shoulders far too much guilt. She’s a tough girl, a troublemaker and her return shakes up the lethargy that continues to plague the town.

There is a dark beauty in the decay that permeates this story and I think anyone looking for a unique horror story as well as a beautifully crafted heroine will love it too.

5 out of 5


About Author Gwendolyn Kiste

Gwendolyn Kiste is a speculative fiction writer based in Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in publications such as Shimmer, Black Static, Interzone, LampLight, Nightmare, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, and Flash Fiction Online among others. Her debut collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, is out now from JournalStone. She currently resides on an abandoned horse farm with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts.

Catch up with her most recent projects here:  http://www.gwendolynkiste.com/


Comments

  1. Love the cover! I just don't know if it's something I'd enjoy, though.

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    Replies
    1. It's very moody, very atmospheric and that cover is so striking!

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  2. This sounds really interesting! I am really drawn to that cover. Great cover!

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    Replies
    1. It's really something. Both the book and the story.

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  3. This book sounds so awesome! I totally want to read it. :D

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    1. I hope you get to, Lark. I think you would ♥ it!

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  4. Great review! I can't wait to read this!

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  5. I've heard a lot about this as well and you've sold me on it. I have to go grab a copy soon!

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  6. The cover makes me sooo curious. Okay...you convinced me. I want to read it. :-)
    sherry @ fundinmental

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