Say Her Name
London, Hot Keys, 2014, 287p
Another of the books I have been meaning to read for some time, Say Her Name, is gem from James Dawson, with whom I had the pleasure of recently spending a few days on a First Story residential.
A Halloween dare seems like a good idea to Bobbie and her best friend Naya, until they discover that the legend of Bloody Mary might be more than just a story. In the five days following the night when they chant her name into a mirror, Naya and Bobbie are haunted by the ghost of the dead girl, and history suggests there is little chance of survival.
James Dawson brings the classic tropes of Gothic literature into the twenty first century, redesigning the thriller genre for the age of technology and teenagers. Bobbie and Naya board in an old school, but they are modern, clever girls, not easily scared by ghost stories and dark corridors. And yet, Dawson creates a terrifying environment in which the drama plays out, with Mary growing stronger and stronger as the girls try to find a way to help the ghost rest in peace.
There are hundreds of different versions of the Bloody Mary legend, and Bobbie points out that there are teenagers chanting her name all over the world in search of a bit of Halloween fun. But what is different about this scenario is that, as Bobbie and Naya discover, the real Mary went to their school, and her death still haunts the old school.
And alongside the haunting terror is a romance - it is not just Naya and Bobbie who chant into the mirror, but the handsome local Caine is brave enough to give it a try, too. As they try to understand if there is any hope to save themselves, Bobbie and Caine come closer and closer, and Bobbie cannot stop herself falling for the gorgeous young man.
Say Her Name is a fast-paced thriller that I could not put down - I had to find out if the threesome survived the curse of Bloody Mary, and there are no guarantees with a horror like this...