Synopses & Reviews
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?
Gr 7-10 Shauna, Jess, Kitty, and Anna all gather in the bathroom in Anna's house, ready to summon Bloody Mary. Jess, the leader of the group, starts chanting while the other three girls are anxious to be done with the ritual. None of them really expects anything to happen, until a hand appears in the mirror. Elated, Jess cannot wait to try again, but this time, she changes things around. Mary appears in the mirror, but instead of being contained, she starts to come out. She grabs Shauna, cutting her skin and trying to pull her back into the mirror with her. Soon, Mary appears in any shiny surface, and the girls' lives are in danger-Shauna most of all. As Shauna starts to dig into Mary's legacy, she learns there may be ulterior motives for summoning her in the first place. Descriptions are vivid, especially details about Mary and her hauntings. The story has enough creepy elements that will linger with readers, though the amount of violence does not make it suitable for squeamish students. This modern take on the popular urban legend is definitely not for the faint of heart. As the first book in a series, the novel concludes with many loose ends, which hopefully will be tied up in the next installment. Natalie Struecker, Rock Island Public Library, IL--SLJ
Shauna and her high-school friends have summoned the legendary Bloody Mary, just to see if they could. Their success is both terrifying and exhilarating, and soon bossy ringleader Jess insists on doing it again and again. The other girls-quiet follower Kitty and blunt, stoic Anna-are still scared, but they are drawn in to Jess' charismatic excitement. Before their second try, Shauna assures them that it's the last time, but Jess is determined to keep up the game, and this time, the summoning goes awry. The ghost injures Shauna, and in retaliation, the teen vows to banish Bloody Mary forever, leading her on a frightening adventure, during which she uncovers the true history of the ghost. There's a lot of buildup to each summoning, along with real-world high-school-girl drama, which occasionally makes the story drag. The concept is terrifying, but the uneven pace sometimes deflates the tension, and although that might turn off hard-core horror fans, it nonetheless makes it a good fit for the slightly squeamish. Stacey Comfort--Booklist Online
Four friends face the dire consequences of summoning the infamous Bloody Mary. Over April vacation spent in Solomon's Folly, Massachusetts, Shauna's best friend, Jess, learned how to properly summon Bloody Mary from her great-aunt Dell. Armed with a letter written by Mary Worth, a 19th-century resident of the little town, Jess convinces Shauna and their two friends to attempt to summon the ghost. To Jess' delight, the ritual works perfectly: Mary's decrepit hand scratches behind the mirror through a thick fog. Underwhelmed with the first sighting, Jess persuades her friends to try again, and this time, Mary is ready: She climbs right through the mirror, raking her nails down Shauna's back. Suddenly the girls are faced with the threat that Mary might appear in any shiny surface, and Shauna discovers that the unrelenting, bloodthirsty ghost follows her every move. Monahan's depiction of the initial summoning is chilling, but each new appearance of Bloody Mary reads as more and more hackneyed, swiftly veering into B-movie territory. A satisfying twist strengthens the ending, but the lack of character development makes it difficult to feel anything for the girls. The highest intrigue lies in the snippets of Bloody Mary's origin story, which is woefully underused. It's unclear where the series may go from here. An urban legend too light on either gore or camp to be any fun. (Horror. 14-18)--Kirkus
2Q 4P S Like many American girls, Shauna and her friends, Jess, Kitty and Anna, love their sleepovers, and love to partake in minor scares. The old urban myth of Bloody Mary, in which a nineteenth-century killer is summoned through a s ance, is their favorite. One night, with the proper words and proper methodology, the girls succeed in summoning Mary through a bathroom mirror. That uncorks a horror story that only grows as Jess's obsession with the myth leads to more and more summonings and Mary takes over Jess's body. High school girls in need of an easy scare to remind them of slumber parties past will find something to like in Mary, but the book reads mechanically, like a sketch for a television special. After the promising opening letter from the original nineteenth-century Mary, characterization is sparse. Narrator Shauna is actually a secondary character in the novel (Jess is the one obsessed with the Bloody Mary myth), so the sense of doom is told through a lens rather than shown with immediacy. Too often Jess tells and explains her relationships and past events instead of showing readers the stories. Still, there are some worthy shocking moments, and girls who can put themselves in the place of the characters might have themselves a good jolt or two.-James Nicosia.--VOYA
About the Author
Hillary Monahan lives outside Boston. This is her first novel. Learn more at www.hillaryjmonahan.com.