Title: Say Her Name by
Author: James Dawson
Format: Paperback, owned
Publisher: Hot Key Books
My rating: 5 / 5
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.
-- As seen on Goodreads
Nine times out of ten, horror books don’t scare me. Say Her Name scared me. I’M SO HAPPY ABOUT THIS! James Dawson, I could kiss you (in a totally non-creepy way, of course!) I FINALLY found a truly scary book! Oh my gosh, Say Her Name was amazing! Seriously, do not read this book if it’s raining. Or… actually, forget that. DEFINITELY read this book while it’s raining! It’ll terrify you even more! Or even better, if you have a leaky tap… let it drip, drip, drip and try not to let your imagination run rampant, mwahahaha!
I love that the book gets straight into the creepy and scary. The story begins with a short intro scene, set thirteen years in the past, and it really sets the tone for the entire book. Seriously, the words “drip, drip, drip” will haunt me for a long time to come! Say Her Name is set in an all-girls boarding school in Oxsley. On Halloween night, a group of students and a couple of local lads they’ve smuggled in are hanging out, trying to scare each other. The story of Bloody Mary is told by one of the girls, and a dare is issued to complete the ritual at midnight. Naya, Bobbie and Caine take up the challenge and complete the ritual, and the clock begins to count down to her return… I don’t want to say much more about the story, as I think you should go into this without knowing too much, and just let yourself get swept away with the story and let the terror gobble you up!
For me, the atmosphere in a horror book is all important, and in my opinion, while blood and gore horror might give a little fright for a fleeting moment, psychological horror lasts so much longer and has a far greater impact. Blood and gore don’t do much for me: it creates a mess, but no real atmosphere. This was my biggest complaint with Anna Dressed in Blood - if I don’t feel anything, it’s a fail. I definitely don’t have the same complaint here! I think Say Her Name is a spectacular success, atmosphere wise. Everything builds up right from the beginning, and we’re constantly kept on our toes. I loved that Say Her Name began with a bang, settled down a little bit, and slowly began to build up a fabulously subtle psychological horror story, which created so much tension and momentum. I LOVED the tension the countdown created! Once the five days were up, I knew all hell was about to break loose! It was awesome!
I really liked the characters, and I wasn’t expecting to. Sometimes with horror books, the characters can seem a bit like props, and not ‘real’ fleshed out characters, and I’m so glad I connected with them. I really liked Bobbie, our main character. She’s quiet and a little reserved, but very witty at times. Naya is Bobbie’s best friend, and I loved the banter between them. It helped to balance out the tension that was building up throughout the book, but of course, this lulls you into a false sense of security, and the next chapter will scare the crap out of you!
The story is told in the third person, and I thought it suited the story perfectly. It allowed us to keep a little distance from the characters, and we got to experience everything surrounding Bobbie, too. I usually connect better with books told in a first person POV, so I love when I find a third person POV that I really enjoy! The ending was simply fabulous! I LOVED IT! Oh my goodness, it was terrifying, full of mind-fuckery and absolutely awesome. I felt every emotion the characters were going through, and I’ll never look at a puddle in the same way again.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Say Her Name, and I can’t recommend it highly enough! It’s easily the best YA horror book I’ve read in a long time. If you love psychological horror, give Say Her Name a chance… I don’t think you’ll regret unleashing this awesome version of the infamous Bloody Mary tale!