Sunday, 22 June 2014

REVIEW: Say Her Name by James Dawson

Book Title: Say Her Name
Author: James Dawson
Publisher: Hot Key Books, June 5th, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Format: Paperback, 240 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
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, Bobbies 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 thei five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before...
Say Her Name is the new spine chilling contemporary YA horror book from James Dawson, author of Cruel Summer, and let me tell you, this book will make every hair on your body stand on end. Honestly, this book needs to come with a warning. Dawson really knows how to build suspense, and coupled with well written descriptions… well, it guarantee’s one hell of a horror book - and its set in a boarding school. Class. 

I finished this in one reading at half two in the morning, and… I kept darting glances at my wardrobe door, which has a mirror on the other side, then hugged my knees and watched Inkheart to take my mind off ghoulies and ghosts. Funnily enough I didn't even realize it was officially Friday the 13th, not that I’m superstitious, but still.

The ONLY negative that I can bring to mind is the fact that I didn’t feel like there was a real connection between me (the reader) and Bobbie (the main character and narrator of the story), it was as though she was reading off a script – but I can say that she was a well written and pretty relatable character, it was just that lack of feeling between me and her that took away from the book.

Now, as a child I knew a roundabout story of Bloody Mary, which my best friends had told me; I was about seven at the time. Basically, what I knew was you had to turn all the lights off, stand in front of a mirror, spin round three times whilst saying the phrase ‘Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, come and haunt me, I killed your son.’ And yes, I went into the school bathroom, at the end of the day with my bestie, we turned off the lights and did it. Nothing happened.

I didn’t expect anything to happen even at that age, and I still don’t believe in things like that; but the reason I’m bringing this up is because Dawson took an urban legend and made it his own, whilst it seemed pretty faithful to my knowledge of the legend, he gave it a new twist and it worked really well with James’ writing presence, giving it a real flair, but still keeping it classic.

A bonus is the fact that I found ALL the characters likable, even the mean ones, I felt like Dawson was channeling his inner Mean Girl then.

Something that I was pretty impartial to was the ‘romance’, I liked that it wasn’t in your face and that it seemed pretty normal. No insta-love or any of that rubbish - the pacing of it, and the entire book really, was just spot on.

NOW HERE’S SOMETHING IMPORTANT THAT I WANT TO TALK ABOUT. THAT ENDING. Just when you think everything is nice and dandy, the author decides to do something that plot-wise is very smart, and scares the pants off you. And then you see the last page which makes you think ‘Does that mean what they were worried about has now happened and she’ll go away?’ (That may not make much sense but I’m trying not to spoil it!!) As I said in my tweet, bloody good job James Dawson – pun intended.

To surmise Say Her Name is a great new take on the urban Bloody Mary legend, with great descriptions this book is not one to read in the dark – I loved every minute of it!

4/5 Bookish Birds

*Thank-you to Hot Key Books for sending me an Uncorrected Proof Copy of Say Her Name by James Dawson – this in no way affected my review.* 

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