Publication date: 5 June 2014
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Length: 240 pages
Age group: Young Adult
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: ★★★
Drip…drip…drip… In five days, she will come…
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.
Even though I like my books to be on the dark side, I rarely find myself reading horror – but Say Her Name was a book I was really looking forward to. I loved Dawson’s previous novel, Cruel Summer (a story that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page), and I’ve heard some brilliant things about this book as well, so my expectations were pretty high. Unfortunately, though, I was a bit disappointed.
The author chose a brilliant setting for a creepy horror story – a lonely boarding school on the top of a cliff, with its dark corridors and secret passages. There were ghosts in mirrors, graveyards, blood. Everything was given for a perfectly haunting story – yet I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected.
In a nutshell, it’s an okay book. I liked the concept and was really curious to see how it would end, whether they would survive, what would happen to Mary. The ending, I think, was clever, and I didn’t mind the fact that it was left quite open. In fact, the ending was probably the highlight for me.
On the other hand, I didn’t find it creepy at all. I was intrigued at times, yes, but I never once felt like I wouldn’t be able to look in a mirror or sleep with the lights off which, judging by fellow bloggers’ reactions, is what I should have experienced. I don’t know if it’s because I’m used to gorier and creepier stuff (I read an awful lot of thrillers, after all) or because the story just… wasn’t scary enough – I honestly don’t know. All I know is that it didn’t faze me at all.
Another thing that bothered me was the characterisation. I like a story with a badass main character – which, for me, Bobbie just wasn’t – but even ordinary characters wouldn’t have bothered me if at least the plot was exceptionally mind-blowing. Which, again, it wasn’t. I felt pretty disconnected from all the characters and honestly didn’t care what happened to them. I did like Naya at the beginning but some of the things she said (that were supposed to be ‘typical New York’) were so cliché, they put me off pretty soon.
All in all, Say Her Name is an okay and fairly quick read – but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would’ve hoped to.