23 December 2016

Review 25. Say Her Name by James Dawson [Twelve Days of Reviews]

Title: Say Her Name
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Published: June 5th 2014
287 pages

"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.

Dear James Dawson,

I love horror, but finding good horror stories is very difficult. Thank you for writing Say Her Name because it had everything a horror story needs to make the heart beat faster. If I already was terrified of Bloody Mary, I now do my best to avoid every mirror.

Writing: You know a horror story is well-written when you find yourself thinking you hear drip-drop coming from your own bathroom. Of course, you then realize you forgot to turn off the water because your cats like drinking from weird places. Nonetheless, the goosebumps were real and I wasn't very happy about leaving my bedroom to turn off the water.  

“Bobbie wondered if that's how long you truly live for - until the last person who remembers you, until the final bouquet on your grave.”

I think the writing was what I loved the most about this horror story. The words are so well-woven that they bring the fear to the surface -and also those emotions that make you want to crawl into your bed and hide under the blankets.

Characters: I can't say I loved the characters. Not only they just aren't that memorable but also I didn't connect with them (okay, maybe our fear connected us, but that's all). Besides there were just too many clichés in Pipper Hall -the mean girl(s), the I'm-too-plain-and-shy-to-be-noticed-by-a-boy main character, the pretty best friend that overshadows everyone with her looks...The characters were all clichés in my opinion.

Oh, and the relationship between Bobbie and Caine felt a bit forced -but maybe when you have a bloodthirsty ghost after your, your emotions are all over the place and it's easier to create a romantic bond. But not really something I'd like to experience (I mean, who would like to have Bloody Mary after them?). But if you can overcome all these clichés, as I did, you can enjoy this spooky story where you never know when Bloody Mary is going to show up and creep you out.

Worldbuilding: As it's obvious, Say Her Name is based on the urban legend Bloody Mary. If you've never heard about this urban myth then you should watch season one of Supernatural (can't remember the episode's number), but there is a huge number of other sources you can find online. That said, I enjoyed how the author chose this urban legend and gave it a twist of his own. Mary was a Piper Hall student that suddenly vanishes and slowly her story is revealed. I really liked how alike and different Dawson's story was from the original.

If you love a good horror story, Say Her Name is a must.

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