Hot Key Books, who sent me The Door That Led to Where shortly before Christmas, gave away two free iBooks around the same time. Not one to turn down a free book, this was one of them. The other is Dawn O’Porter’s Goose, which is the second in her Paper Aeroplanes series, so I haven’t read that yet – I hate coming in at the wrong point, so I’ll need to get the first, first.
In any case, Say Her Name is a rejigging of the Bloody Mary horror story, set in a boarding school in England.
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.
Say Her Name is, as I’ve said, a Bloody Mary story. It has all the ingredients for a totally clichéd story – boarding school, teenage girls, common horror theme, ridiculously cute boy, check, check, check. But it cleverly avoids all of the possible pitfalls and presents itself as an entertaining and certainly creepy horror story with a few twists and turns along the way.
I wasn’t expecting a whole lot out of this book, especially since horror isn’t really my genre of choice, but I was pleasantly surprised. The characterisation was good (I really liked Bobbie as a character and the mystery of Bloody Mary kept me guessing for quite a while), the horror elements psychologically creepy, with each victim experiencing different parts of Bloody Mary’s experience, the romance plausible, and the ending satisfyingly wrapped up, with a few extra elements which I didn’t see coming. Plus, the book had some really witty moments, which made me look like a loon, laughing on a train. Such is the struggle of the book reader.
I’ve never read anything by James Dawson before, although ‘This Book is Gay’ has gotten rave reviews – perhaps I need to check out some more of his stuff. Say Her Name is certainly a good example of a YA horror book!