Book Review: Say Her Name
Author: James Dawson
Published by: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: 5 June 2014
Page Count: 287
Buy it on Amazon
Source: checked out from my local library (yes they do still exist)
Audience: Young Adult – Horror/Urban Legend
'...Bloody Mary...Bloody Mary...Bloody Mary...'
I saw Say Her Name on the shelf of my local bookstore and when I read the back I knew this was the perfect book for Halloween. I love Halloween, love the decorations, costumes, the excitement in the air (not unlike Christmas, but in a different way), and the scary stories. Of all of them, Bloody Mary has always been one of the creepiest ones for me. I refuse to say her name in front of a mirror even once, let alone three times.
Say Her Name is about a teenage girl, Bobbie, who goes to a boarding school in England. On Halloween night at midnight, Bobbie and two friends, Naya and Caine, say Bloody Mary five times in front of a mirror. Nothing happens, but the next day 'Five Days' is written across the bathroom mirror. Soon, weird things start to happen to the three friends, they also begin to have odd, realistic dreams and see a strange girl behind them in their reflections. They quickly realize that the story of Mary is true and they only have five days to break the curse or disappear forever. Bobbie, Naya, and Caine rush to solve the mystery surrounding Bloody Mary before their time is up.
My favorite character in this book, besides the creepy-ghost Mary, is Bobbie. I could see a lot myself as a teen in her, a shy girl who only wants to read and write, not too big into the party scene, seemingly mute around boys. That may be why I loved her character so much. But she changed when she realized she may only have five days to live. She became less shy, talking with the boy she was crushing on. She found courage deep inside where she didn't even know there was any. She came out of her shell. That, to me, is a strong character, one you can relate to and would want to be friends with.
The imagery in the book was incredible. It was quite easy to picture Mary pulling herself from a mirror, stilted and bloody. I have seen it done in movies and TV shows and reading it is just as eerie.
I could actually picture this being a great horror movie, scene for scene. The tension build up from day one to day five is palpable and I loved it.
The mystery surrounding Bloody Mary was familiar and unique at the same time. The basics were the same, say her name in front of a mirror and her ghost will appear, but Dawson twists it into his own retelling of the story. They have to say her name five times, and the legend is about a girl who used to go to Bobbie's school. There is obviously much more to it, but I don't want to give away any spoilers and ruin it for potential readers.
The other thing I loved about this book, and it's pure coincidence since the book was published last year (possibly written the year before), is that it falls on the exact same dates as this year. Halloween is on a Saturday in the book as well, so it just makes it that much more creepier, for some reason.
I really enjoyed this book, I read it in one sitting, I finished reading it at night and admit I refused to look in any reflective surfaces on my way to bed where I promptly snuggled close to my husband. It has everything you look for in a good ghost horror story: suspense, death, potential love interests (yes, this is a requirement), mystery and intrigue, and the proper twist ending that leaves the story open.
One Last Thought: The book didn't start out too scary, the odd things happening to Bobbie and her friends not too spooky, but as it got closer to the end of the five days and the weirdness increased, so did the creepiness. I was truly spooked at the end.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I love how Dawson reshapes the Bloody Mary legend to fit his story.
First Sentence: Drip, drip, drip.
Favorite Character: Bobbie
Least Favorite Character: Grace
Roberta 'Bobbie' Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of 'Bloody Mary': say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear... But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?
Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror... five days... but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before... A truly spine-chilling yet witty horror from shortlisted 'Queen of Teen' author James Dawson