Book Review: MARY: The Summoning (Bloody Mary #1) by Hillary Monahan

17661402Title: MARY: The Summoning (Bloody Mary #1)

Author: Hillary Monahan

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Ghosts, Gothic Horror

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.

Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them–Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna–must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.

A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: “Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY.” A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.

Once is not enough, though–at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary’s wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary–and Jess–before it’s too late?

It’s hard to review a book you’ve fallen in love with, and I’ve absolutely fallen for the plot, characters, and the sublime writing that is hidden in the pages of MARY: The Summoning. This is one of the best YA gothic horror novels I’ve read in my entire life – and I’d recommend it to just about everyone.

Shauna’s best friend, Jess, is obsessed with summoning Bloody Mary. But whereas Shauna thought it was just a stupid, silly party game, it turns out to be so much more. Once Mary is correctly summoned, and not in the clumsy way most urban legend stories say you have to summon her, then…well, the shadow creeping along the mirror, and the bony fingers reaching out from the afterlife, are sufficient to give Shauna nightmares for the rest of her life.

For Shauna, Kitty and Anna, one encounter with Mary is sufficient for a lifetime, but Jess demands they summon her again. And again. Until their circle gets broken, and Mary is freed…

Mary’s ghosts starts to haunt the four friends, appearing in mirrors, any reflecting surface – which is just about anymore – and trying to grab them and pull them into the afterlife with her. Shauna, the main target of Mary’s attack, needs to find out more about Mary’s history in order to stop the vengeful ghosts. Loyalties and friendship are tested, and what is revealed, may be shocking to all of them…

Shauna is one kick-ass protagonist. At the start, I thought she was a little passive, willing to follow Jess, no matter what she did, but she soon grew a backbone and started to stand up for herself. I disliked Jess with a passion, but that’s not at all surprising considering what happens in the book. If you want to know what, you’ll just have to read it for yourself, though.

Just about everything about this book is perfect. The writing is great, and at times the descriptions were so creepy I nearly crawled into my closet to hide. The characters each have distinct personalities, and it’s easy to keep them apart. The mystery about Mary was intriguing too, highly supsenseful, and not at all what I expected.

But the best part? This book was deliciously creepy. Creepy in a way I didn’t expect – the kind of fear that crawls under your skin and makes you look over your shoulder every once in a while, expecting to see Mary’s ghost. That fear, the gothic horror fear that not a lot of books manage to convey. This one does, though.

Highly recommended, especially to people looking for a solid gothic horror novel, and well, for everyone who wants a good scare.

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