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The Rust Maidens

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  409 ratings  ·  126 reviews
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 t
Paperback, 252 pages
Published November 16th 2018 by Trepidatio Publishing
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3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  409 ratings  ·  126 reviews

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Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“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 othe
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"You can't stop the girls from becoming what they became."

The Rust Maidens is my third Gwendolyn Kiste book this year, and she has crushed it again. I love everything I've read by her, and The Rust Maidens is going to be a must-read for fans when it's released in November.

Gwendolyn writes in a way that makes me feel understood, and I can't say that about very many people. There are so many authors I love & enjoy, but she's one of the few who can really make me reflect on my own life with he
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There's something about Kiste's writing that just speaks to me. Her stories feel so personal and so intimate. It's almost as if you are reading something that you shouldn't because it feels so personal, and yet you need to, because what Kiste is writing is beautiful and profound. It's been a really long time since I have related to a protagonist in a book as much as I feel like I relate to Phoebe Shaw in The Rust Maidens. Every word she says, every action she takes feels exactly like what I woul ...more
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
A compelling piece of literary horror that examines the theme of decay in its various forms.

The Rust Maidens themselves personify decay as their bodies literally change. The surrounding neighbourhood-a steel based economy in 1980 Cleveland-similarly decays from the larger scale (economic collapse) to the smaller (family collapse).

An uncomfortable read, but powerful and difficult to look away from; basically just what I look for in horror.
Glenn Rolfe
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gwendolyn Kiste isn’t new to the horror scene, but she is new to me. I’d been hearing about this book that was coming out soon, about this writer and how this was her first novel. Kiste has collections and a novella out there (which I will be hunting down), but this –THE RUST MAIDENS-is her first full-length novel. I managed to get a hold of a pre-release copy, and I must say, I was not disappointed.

Kiste’s novel is not just a good story (It’s a great story), it’s a statement to the literary wor
Tracy Robinson
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“There’s an echo in this house where my childhood used to be.” Just -how freaking perfect is that?!?

Kiste takes us to Cleveland, OH in the 1980s, to a small town that is wrapped intertwined with the success and the decline of the local steel mill. And as the mill declines and the town suffers, the girls do too. An Ohio girl my whole life - I admit that had a part in drawing me to pick up this book.
We meet Phoebe, someone I recognize as an old childhood friend with pieces of myself shining thr
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This came highly recommended from the ladies of horror, so I read it! This is the first thing I've read by Gwendolyn Kiste. Wow! She can write. The language and scenery of this book is beautiful.its sad and bleak but it has a certain beauty to it. I liked the characters and the Maidens as well. The story flowed along nicely. I would certainly read more from this author.
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, horror
Phoebe Shaw has returned to Denton Street, Cleveland, decades after she left after the events of the summer of 1980 and the transformation of the Rust Maidens. As she slowly reconnects with her family and the place she left behind, the events of that summer come to the forefront. In 1980 Phoebe was an angry young woman, priming herself to leave the decaying city and its suffocating people, when her best friend and four other girls began a disturbing transformation, literally becoming creatures o ...more
THE RUST MAIDENS is the first that I have read by author Gwendolyn Kiste. When I found out that this was her debut novel, I was honestly shocked. During the transition from short stories to a FIRST full-length book, I would expect at least a few things to be "less than perfect".

In my opinion, this is a SOLID five-star novel, from beginning to end.

"Things change . . . Sometimes it's for the better, and sometimes it's not."

Phoebe Shaw is returning to her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, for the firs
Jeremy Hepler
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tremendous, atmospheric debut novel that I found worthy of the praise it has received. I'm definitely looking forward to Gwendolyn Kiste's next work.
Suz Jay
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, arc
I was fortunate to obtain an advance reader copy (ARC) of this novel.

As the daughter of a steel worker, I remember the effects of the strikes and layoffs. The heyday and downfall of the steel Industry. The Christmas parties for the children with Santa and movies, where every kid received a fancy toy and all the candy they could stuff inside their gullets, along with the tense times when the paychecks stopped and hopelessness reigned.

Kiste captures the desolation of the steel mill downfall, mak
Stephanie (That's What She Read)
" As our lives assumed a new and unwanted rhythm, this became a summer of unlikely lessons. Our fathers learned to stand in unemployment lines. Our mothers learned how to smile through bourbon-soaked tears. And all of us learned that the Rust Maidens were not a fad or a fleeting temper tantrum. It was, we soon realized, entirely possible that they had invented a new way to say goodbye."
The Rust Maidens is an interesting book. It's hard to categorize; it lies somewhere in the space between horr
Lisa Miller
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
I did not enjoy reading this book. It did not feel well written. I was not compelled by the plot nor any of the characters. For a book where the main catch is a grotesque body-horror transformation, the descriptions of the transformation were vague and unsatisfying. The protagonist alternated between her past 18 year old self and current 46 years, but her internal dialogue is so trite it felt more reflective of a 14 year old’s narcissistic diary entries. I was constantly eye-rolling and groaning ...more
In the street, we all acted like nothing was wrong too. We sipped our drinks, spiked with whatever was convenient, and we chewed our burgers, tasteless and dry. We wanted to talk about them. We wanted to say the truth, to scream it, to confess our fears. But we couldn't. We'd practiced keeping quiet for so long that now, when we needed to speak the most, we'd forgotten how. And anyways, what was the proper way to bid farewell to everything you'd known? Even if we hadn't sewn our lips shut years
Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
There are books you read and then there are books you feel—ones that get under your skin and become a part of who you are. Gwendolyn Kiste is a writer like that, one who creates stories that live and breathe, and when they shift into strange darkness, you go with them willingly, almost not realizing you’re leaving reality behind.

The Rust Maidens is set against the backdrop of a small Cleveland neighborhood in the 80s and the slow but inevitable decay of the factories that are the lifeblood for
Lee Anderson drunkonbookz
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such a beautiful tale set in Cleveland, Ohio back in the 80's. Denton street is a street where the men are all factory workers, the women are stay at home mothers and most of the kids we hear about in the story are just graduating high school.

Phoebe Shaw is not only the narrator but she emotionally carries this book. This story could so easily have been turned into something truly horrific but even though the rust maidens show little emotion, Phoebe is almost like their outlet, reminding us of s
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the Summer of 1980 on Denton street everyone knows everyone and things go the way they always go with the men working at the Steel Mill and more. When a group of girls come down with a mysterious illness, Phoebe tries anything she can to help them. Will she be able to help them before they all transform into a nightmarish mutant of a monster or are the Rust maidens doomed? Read on and find out for yourself.

This was my first ever book I have read by Gwendolyn Kiste and it was a pretty intense
Red Lace Reviews
Phoebe Shaw and her best friend Jacqueline want nothing more than to escape Denton Street and see more of the world. After graduation, their plans are set in motion, however the symptoms of a strange sickness strike their neighbourhood; something awful that targets young women. Afraid for her future, Phoebe remains determined to break away, but her fate, and that of Jacqueline's, becomes more uncertain by the minute.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

The Ladies of Horror Fiction team
David Bridges
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A dark gothic story about the loss of innocence as well as the decline of the American promise. The Rust Maidens splits between two time periods in Cleveland Ohio, a time period when factories are beginning to close and current dilapidated times. I am always attracted to stories like this as I grew up during the 80’s in a failing mill village in South Carolina. The writing is emotional and economic struggle hovers throughout the story even when it is not the primary focus of the narrative. The p ...more
Suzy Michael
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed-books
The Rust Maidens is my first venture into the writings of Gwendolyn Kiste, and I have to say, I'm completely blown away! This novel, like many others I've been reading lately, is not outright horror. It has a distinct underlying theme that is masked by the horror element in the novel. When that theme pulls down it's mask to reveal its true self and intention, it can be more terrifying than what we were initially anticipating. In this particular work, a gigantic metaphor is lurking underneath, wa ...more
Michael J.
As industries declined in Rust Belt cities during the 1980’s, what happened to the neighborhoods populated by factory workers and what effect did the decline have on them? The close-knit community living on Denton Street on Cleveland, Ohio’s west side experience that in the summer of 1980 and it changes them in profound ways.
Facing an uncertain future, main character Phoebe Shaw and her close friends question their path forward when they should be engaged in joyous celebration of high school g
Ann Tamimi
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it
First the cover art totally pulled me in. I can not say enough about that, and yes covers matter.

The book, the writing style of this author u really enjoyed. It was a slow intense burn and one which pulled me in to the main character who was this much disliked trouble maker. And what was going on with the girls why were the the ones going through a transformation and what deep secret was the cause

It all pulled me in held me tight until it fell flat for me. I was set up expecting more but never
Mitch Meredith
Apr 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I realized about 1/3 of the way through the book that this just wasn't for me. And that's fine. I did finish it, but can't say that I necessarily enjoyed it. What started off as an intriguing mystery just seems to stammer on for an excessively long time, and really doesn't answer many questions the book poses.

I did, however, enjoy Kiste's writing. She can definitely tell a story. Unfortunately, this just wasn't my kind of story.
Brian Fatah Steele
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely stunning “Rust-Belt Gothic,” a tale of five young women succumbing to a mysterious metamorphosis in 1980’s Cleveland. Wonderfully developed characters and the era expertly set, the novel also has an unnerving quality thread throughout that builds to the end. Not only one of the best books I’ve read this year, but one I feel I would recommend to readers of multiple genres.
S.J. Budd
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste is an amazing book and you're all in for a treat. I was very excited to have been given an ARC as this is an author who's work I've been avidly following. Initialy she was mostly a short story writer, gracing the pages of Black Static, Lamplight, Interzone, Shimmer, Nightmare and a whole load more. Since then she turned her hand to writing a critically acclaimed novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row which was released last year.

And 2018 heralds her first novel -
Becky Spratford
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
On the blog and in my Reader's Shelf Column in the 10/1/18 issue of Library Journal:

Three Words That Describe This Book: unsettlingly beautiful, two time frames, atmospheric

From haunted houses to an entire town haunted by a terrifying event in its past we have THE RUST MAIDENS by Bram Stoker Award nominated short story writer, Gwendolyn Kiste. It’s 1980 and Cleveland is a town in serious decline. The plants and mills are all closing and jobs are disappea
Leo Robertson
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great novel!

I think I read somewhere that it was inspired in part by Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides, which makes a lot of sense. Eugenides said for years he didn't understand why he'd written that book until he realised he was lamenting the collapse of Detroit, a strange and melancholy mystery which he explored through characters who could only watch as something they loved got destroyed for reasons unclear.

The connection between the damaged people and the city is clearer in this novel--it takes
Renee M. P. T. Kray
The girls of a small street in a small town attract attention in a big way when they literally begin to rust from the inside out. Oozing dirty water instead of blood, they simultaneously become an attraction and a disgrace to their community. Phoebe Shaw, a survivor of those times, is back... but maybe she's not the only piece of the past to raise its head.

This was my first Gwendolyn Kiste book, and I am converted. Her prose is so perfect, the images so beautifully put together that I am in awe
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is my second Kiste book. The first being And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, a collection of short stories. Once again, she writes with a simplistic elegance that is both horrific and beautiful at the same time. This story starts with a haunted tone that continues until the reader can actually feel the despair of the times. I wasn’t emotionally invested in the story until about half way in but when it hit, it did so with no hesitation.
The story is told through Phoebe, cousin and be
Sara Tantlinger
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The Rust Maidens is easily one of my favorite books I have read this year. Kiste's prose is as beautiful as the overall story she weaves. The whole concept behind the book offers an original idea that I found myself quickly falling into, desperate to know more. Yet, there is familiarity here within Phoebe's story (I adored this character by the way), and within the town where rust has come to consume the residents. Beneath the surface of the decay lingers even more powerful stories -- stories ab ...more
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Gwendolyn Kiste is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, from JournalStone; the dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, from Broken Eye Books; and her debut novel, The Rust Maidens, from Trepidatio Publishing. Her short fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Shimmer, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, Interzone, LampLight, and Three-Lobed ...more