I received this book for free from Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Say Her Name by Juno Dawson
Published by Hot Key Books on June 5th 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Horror, Young Adult
Source: Hot Key Books
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.
Review: I love Juno Dawson’s writing; it’s the perfect combination of witty humour and tense creepiness. It goes without saying, therefore, that I was really looking forward to Say Her Name from the moment it was announced, however I was a little worried. The Bloody Mary legend is the one urban legend that has crept under my skin and scared me a bit – it’s probably to do with the mirrors – so I was simultaneously intrigued and terrified of Say Her Name.
Say Her Name is set in a British boarding school where Bobbie and her friends summon Bloody Mary. They expect nothing to happen, like it hasn’t happened for most of the millions of teenagers who have said those fateful words before. However, soon mysterious things begin to happen. A message saying ‘five days’ is just the start of it. Now Bobbie, best friend Naya and Bobbie’s new crush Caine have to stop Mary before it’s too late.
Say Her Name had a real horror film vibe to it, and at times felt both American and British due to this. It’s filled with brilliant pop culture references and Dawson juxtaposes the humour and horror brilliantly. What I love about Dawson’s writing is that he doesn’t talk down to his audience; Say Her Name is scary in places, it is not horror-lite. Dawson also writes with honesty and his characters feel real, they don’t read as perfect fictional characters. Bobbie in particular was a strong narrator and carried the plot really well.
I thought Say Her Name’s take on the origin of Mary was really interesting and resulted in some empathy for her (let’s not forget about the murder though) The final third is tense, creepy and thrilling to read. I also thought the five day twist and homage of sorts to The Ring added an interesting dimension to the tale as it enabled Bobbie’s quest to save herself and her friends and added tension. There was also a very interesting potential implication for Bobbie and Caine’s budding romance due to Mary’s origin story which I thought was really well done.
I definitely recommend this book and have to admit that despite being fine when I read it, it did stay with me a little afterwards. Connoisseurs of pop culture and horror movie fans will love Say Her Name. Just maybe don’t read it in a room filled with mirrors, or you know… aloud.