I first heard about buddy reads when Chaz (from The Life of Chaz) and Jenna (from Bookmark Your Thoughts) posted their buddy read of Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames. I thought it was such a fun idea, and something I really wanted to do.
When I started planning out my posts for Women in Horror Month, I thought it would be the perfect time for my first buddy read. I reached out to my good friend, Ruth Anne Garcia and asked if she wanted to take part, and I am very grateful that she said yes! I suggested we read The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, because it was the book I was most excited about reading for February.
If you want to read the wonderful questions Ruth asked me about The Rust Maidens, you can find them, and my answers, on her blog, here.
Ruth Anne Garcia is a poet and writer. She blogs about writing, book reviews, and recipes on her blog. You can buy her inspirational poetry collection, ‘Bleeding Orchid’, about enduring and overcoming illness, for $4.29 ebook and $9.99 print book on Amazon. You can also find Ruth on Twitter, where she is an active member of the Writing Community.
I met Ruth through a writing group on Twitter. We are also part of a book group. I enjoy discussing books with her, as her insights are always interesting and thought provoking. She is a very supportive friend, and I’m a huge fan of her writing.
About the book
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.
Iseult’s Questions for Ruth:
Q1. Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from Phoebe’s point of view, rather than from one of the Rust Maidens?
I can only assume the author’s intentions were to keep the mystery of what was happening to the rust maidens a secret. If the story had been told in one of their points of view, the changes, transitions, and motivations would’ve been too obvious, in my opinion. It would’ve been nice to see it from their point of view, but I’m not sure how easy or difficult it would be to keep the mystery. The character’s point of view allowed the mystery of the rust maidens to stay intact.
Q2. The story is told in two time periods – in the 1980’s, concerning the Rust Maidens, and almost 30 years later. What do you think the second time period adds to the story?
At first, I thought it was pointless and a little put off by the fact that the time switches would change so often. However, by the end of the book, Dawn’s daughter plays a intricate role. I found the ending (without giving away spoilers) gives a great point in the time period change. It showed the impact of the MC’s life. The impact the maidens had on the town, and the ripple effect of people’s decisions.
Q3. Who was your favorite character and why?
My favorite character was Phoebe because she was the MC. I thought she was a dedicated and loyal friend. She didn’t give up on her friend when she withdrew. She worked hard to help the rust maidens, defended them when others persecuted them, and went against the government employees. She was also a troublemaker and made questionable decisions, but despite that, she kept to her goals.
Q4. The Rust Maidens is highly metaphorical. How did it work for you as a body horror?
To be honest, I felt that this wasn’t necessarily horror, in my opinion. I thought the body morphology, the rust, the medical implications added to the story very interestingly. However, it wasn’t overly horror. However, it was unique in that it shows decaying beauty and darkness. I think there were elements that were unique as well like the maidens being trapped like Phoebe. The metaphorical parts of the novel were what really made it for me.
Q5. What are your lasting impressions from this book?
I think the lasting impression was that the decisions that we make impact our future. The ripple effect of how the town treated the rust maidens, caused them to withdraw and turn away. The way people chose to live their lives impacted lives of others. For instance, Dawn got pregnant, her ex, who happened to be Phoebe’s ex, turned to alcohol after his daughter was born. Phoebe’s mother’s decisions led them on the path of staying on Dent street. Jacqueline withdrew from Phoebe. There were many parts of the book where it shows the ripple effect and how it impacted each character’s life. The ending of the book was really impactful, maybe they can stop it from happening again. Maybe the rust maidens were a lesson to the people of Dent street. There and gone, a whisper in the wind. A lasting mark on the town and a reminder of what is past. I quite enjoyed this novel.
Thank you once again to Ruth for joining me for my first buddy read.
If you’d like to be my reading buddy, or collaborate on a post with me, please comment below or get in touch through my contact page. I’d love to hear from you.