Review: MARY: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: MARY: The Summoning by Hillary MonahanMARY: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan
Series: Bloody Mary #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 2, 2014
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
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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?

When I first saw this book at BEA, I snatched it up so fast, I nearly toppled the whole pile of books. I’ve always been fascinated – and totally creeped out – by the Bloody Mary myth. I remember trying it when I was younger. I stood in front of the mirror, said the words… and officially freaked myself out. Of course, it didn’t work. But I was ten and terrified to turn my back to the mirror while I walked out of the bathroom. I had to walk out backwards… Anyway, while this book definitely had a couple of creeptastic moments, it fell short of my hyped-up expectations.

I didn’t connect with any of the characters. Which, for me, is a major point against a book, since I’m very character-focused when I read. I felt like the characters were very stereotypical and cliche. There was the mean girl leader who gets her way because everyone is afraid to say no; the fat girl with zero confidence; and the peacekeeper. The guys were very cliche, too: the jock who wasn’t very smart and the jock who was big and beefy.

Shauna kind of grew on me as the book went on, but not by much. She kind of reminded me of the girl in horror movies who runs up the stairs instead of out the door. In the beginning, she didn’t do much to help herself – she was scared and made poor choices. All the girls made poor choices, to be honest. They had the crap scared out of them the first time, yet were stupid enough to do it again. Shauna got better in the end, but all she did, essentially, was get back at Jess, not fully save herself.

Jess was insane. We find out part of the reason behind her fascination with Mary at the end, but not why she’s so obsessed and crazy about it. Or whose side she’s actually on. Did she mean for those things to happen? Did she do it on purpose? Supposedly this is only the first book in a series, so I guess we’ll find out more in book two.

Kitty was the fat girl with no self-esteem and I’m kind of tired of that stereotype in books. All that does is make girls like her feel worse about themselves. She did have some amazing moments where she was really brave and stepped in to fight by Shauna’s side when the others wouldn’t. She also suffered the greatest loss and I felt very bad for her. Anna had no personality. She was only good for two things, one of which was fighting with Jess and the other, I can’t say because of spoilers.

Like I said, though, there were some pretty creepy parts in this book. The first night I read it (I finished it in about two days), I actually had trouble falling asleep and kept looking back at the mirror behind my door. I even jumped quickly into bed so nothing could grab my ankles! So if you’re looking for a book that has that creep-factor to it, then you should definitely give this book a shot.

Overall, despite my issues with the book, I still recommend it. If you love horror movies and horror stories, if you’re fascinated by the Bloody Mary myth, or even if you just want a creepy Halloween read, this book is for you. I still think the author has a lot of potential and I think she’s going to do great things. Though I’m uncertain if I’ll continue this series, I’m keeping an open mind and I’d be eager to see what happens next, especially after the way this book ended.