Title: Say Her Name
Author: James Dawson
Genre: Horror | Young Adult
Summary: 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…
Final Rating: ♥♥♥
This book was not a bad book at all. Having said that, it wasn’t an especially good book either. If I hadn’t read it during Halloween, I may not have liked it, so I will say this: if you want to read this and are not easily scared, wait until next Halloween. You may get your money’s worth then. Otherwise, it was eh.
The story was fantastic. I’ve always been interesting in story lines involving Bloody Mary, and I feel like things that involve everyday objects are more scary than more ‘fantastical’ things. If you’re seeing what I mean. For example, you utter Bloody Mary’s name three (five times in this book) times and she will haunt you. She will come out of the mirror and get you. I think that’s a terrifying prospect. James Dawson put his own little twist to the urban legend, and I think it was pretty effective. The book progressed steadily- there were scary parts scattered throughout the novel, but I felt like the climax fell short for me. In movies, the scariest parts are often found in the climax, but that wasn’t the case for this particular novel. The scarier parts were in the beginning, in the middle, but during the climax, it just read like a thriller. Other than that, it was an entertaining read. 4/5
I enjoy boarding school settings tremendously, but something about this particular boarding school felt off to me. It felt too forced, too unrealistic, too ideal for the story. The teenagers weren’t allowed to use their phones, there was no Internet access, they couldn’t go out yada yada yada. Maybe it really is like that, I don’t know, but it felt too convenient for me. I mean, seriously, how many boarding schools don’t have Internet access? Public schools have Internet access, so I guess I just found it hard to believe. Having said that, Dawson used the setting he had set for himself well. But I think he could have done better. 3/5
I didn’t like the characters. They were too two-dimensional, too flat, too mundane, too convenient for the storyline. Our protagonist had no shades of grey to her. Yeah, she was funny and sassy, but she had no flaws, which made her feel so unbelievable. With Naya, you only saw her in relation with the protagonist, so you don’t really get a feel of her character. The protagonist’s relationship with Caine (the male lead) was all over the place. I don’t know when it started, or how it started, or why it started. It just did, and James Dawson perhaps felt like a young adult novel isn’t a YA novel unless it had some romance or romancy angst, so he just shoved it in there. It was unnecessary. 2/5
I know James Dawson is a talented writer. I know he can write descriptive scenes with tremendous amounts of vivid imagery, and I know that he can write a gruesome scene. His book was laced with lighter moments, wit, humor, but for some reason, it all felt too separated. Maybe this is just something wrong in my wiring, but I don’t like comedy in a predominantly horror book, which isn’t even that long. If it was a seven hundred page book, complete with horror, that would have been tiresome. But if you have a 250 page book that is half horror, half comedy, it starts to feel forced. I thought he was a good writer, though, and I might pick up something else of his in the future, but maybe not a ‘horror’ book. 3/5
Would I recommend? In the Halloween time, yes. Otherwise, meh, probably not.
Would I re-read? If I have nothing else to read and I can do with a quick scare, then maybe.