Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 18
- Grade: 12
THIS IS A STORY ABOUT MARY.
Mary was a fan of the vampire drama "City By Night", until she woke up in the show. At first, Mary is thrilled - who wouldn't want to live alongside their favorite TV characters? The charm fades when Mary realizes that the extras still don't speak, the matte paintings don't become real, and all the infuriating flaws in the writing are just amplified when you have to try to interact with the shallow characters.
And then, of course, the lead character Richmond DuNoir falls for her! But his admiration comes with its own set of problems: Antonio, Richmond's psychotic stalker, has a habit of killing off the girls-of-the-week. To stay alive, Mary has to find a way home from a world that, pardon the pun, totally sucks.
A loving satire of vampire-detective tropes, fandom, and Mary Sues from award-winning author J.M. Frey.
About the author
J.M. Frey is an author, voice actor, and professional smartypants. She’s appeared in podcasts, documentaries, and on television to discuss all things geeky. Her debut novel TRIPTYCH was nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards, and garnered a place among the Best Books of 2011 from Publishers Weekly. Since then she’s published THE ACCIDENTAL TURN SERIES, a quadrilogy of meta-fantasy novels, and THE SKYLARK’S SAGA, a steampunk adventure duology. Her queer regency historical fiction novel THE WOMAN WHO FELL THROUGH TIME was honoured with a Watty Award in 2019. Her life’s ambition is to step foot on every continent – only three left!
Excerpt: City by Night (by (author) J.M. Frey)
When Mary comes to, she is lying face down in the grass beside the road.
Her first conscious thought, beyond Ow ow ow, is How long have I been lying here? Followed closely by Ouch and Am I really so unimportant that nobody has helped me? and Ouch and Where am I? Followed again by Ouch as she tries to get her hands under her shoulders and push herself onto her knees.
Rain has pooled in her upturned left ear. Her toes are frozen. Everything aches. Her head throbs. Her knees and her palms burn. Her left arm and left leg are bleeding, both from jagged gashes right above the joint that look way, way grosser than anything she's ever seen people sporting after a visit to the Effects Makeup trailer. There's grit in the long cut, and when Mary flexes her fingers, she can feel the sickening grind of grains of dust against her muscles. It feels disgusting, the way that frogs squashed by a little boy's shoe is disgusting, with that sort of oozing pop.
The Craft Services van that hit her is nowhere to be seen. The studio is gone, too, even though she was pretty sure she hadn't run that far. Something warm and salty stings her left eye.
She's on a street she doesn't recognize, at night, with streetlamps that only mostly work. They cast an amber glow over the glistening pavement, so perfectly moody that it looks like something out of a cinematographer's wet dream. There's grass between the sidewalk and the road, and it's wet from a storm that must have passed over her while she was unconscious, if her wet hair and ear are anything to go by. The air smells of...nothing.
Nothing at all. For reasons Mary can't fathom—reasons which make her heart beat faster, her shoulders ratchet up to her ears—this unnerves her. It's unnatural.
There's no one on the barren street. It's a strangely harmonious mix of residential and storefronts made out of the converted ground floors of houses, all dark and closed up for the night. There is, by some strange cosmic luck, or fate, or universal synergy, a phone booth less than a block away, on the corner. Mary hasn't seen a phone booth in years, but she doesn't own a cellular phone herself because she never wanted to be distracted at work. She hates her coworkers when they tap away with their thumbs, instead of paying attention to who is going in and out of the studio gate like they're being paid to do.
It takes Mary a few minutes to get upright. She is reminded unpleasantly of the cliché about the wounded gazelle on the Serengeti: weak and tottering, but too afraid of attracting the wrong attention to bleat for help. Her head throbs again, and then a very stupid realization bubbles up to the surface of her muzzy brain: she is alone.
There is no one on the street. There doesn't even seem to be anyone in the houses. The Craft Services van driver, her boss, and her co-workers have all just abandoned her, left her for dead on the side of the road. Clearly, nobody came after her. Nobody even stopped to make sure she was alive, as far as she can tell.
That says a lot more about how they think of her than Mr. Geary's horrible insults about her scripts. The ungrateful...jerky jerks! Mary thinks, clutching at the gash on her arm.
She has given City By Night two goddamned years of her life. She just wants the show to love her in return. Is that so very much to ask?
Apparently, it is.
"Frey's The Dark Side of the Glass is an exceptionally fun read; I blasted through it in one sitting and loved every minute of it. A refreshing and mind-twistingly meta take on the Mary Sue convention in fanfiction, Glass managed to subvert all of my expectations, and leave me smiling."
--Sam Maggs, The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy
"I can't recall who said that parody was a clever form of compliment, but it's so very true of J.M. Frey's Dark Side of the Glass, a lovely antidote to the deluge of paranormal romance, the brood of Stephanie Meyer and her ilk. While Frey admits her sources and inspiration as vampire detective series such as Angel, she explores the realities of a romance with a sullen, emo-bloodsucker in ways that make light of every sexed-up vampire story since Anne Rice wrote Interview with a Vampire. Reviewers eschewing Dark Side's verisimilitude are missing the point: this isn't a novella exploring what would really happen if someone ended up in a television show; it's a humorous exploration of vampire fans and the fictions they adore. Readers obsessing about how Mary can cope with being in the TV reality will likely be the same who miss the joke in the title of the final chapter. Highly recommended for fans of vampire fiction who don't take themselves too seriously. Frey's a hell of a writer, and when she catches a break, the whole world is going to find that out. "
- Mike Perschon, 'The Steampunk Scholar'