Book Reviews

{Review} MARY: The Summoning (Bloody Mary, Book 1), by Hillary Monahan

Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Supernatural, Suspense, Young Adult
Format: eBook

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?

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Horror After Dark Review

3.5 stars!

MARY: The Summoning is the first book in a two-book series featuring “Bloody Mary”, written by Hillary Monahan. Is there anyone out there that hasn’t heard the Urban legend of Bloody Mary? The basics–as I knew them–was to go alone into the bathroom (or any room with a mirror). You would turn out the light, and call out “Bloody Mary” three times. At the third recitation, her ghost was said to appear in the mirror before you.

That was it.

Of course, we never actually saw anything, but in the right environment, you could almost second-guess yourself. Was that something I saw out of the corner of my eye? . . . 

Hillary Monahan tackles this legend, and she makes it . . . real. The Mary she creates, Mary Worth, was alive during the mid 1800’s. In my opinion, she was the most interesting character by far!

The story is told in first person point-of-view, by one of the four high school girls who get together to summon Mary . . . the right way. While the story starts out strongly, I must admit that I was frustrated with this choice of narrator for the tale. Although we learn about the other three participants, it takes several chapters before we even know the name of this crucial character. This made it difficult for me to get “into” their lives initially, as one quarter of the equation was essentially “missing” in details.

“How are you not even a little bit bothered by this? . . . “ 

Aside from that issue, I honestly enjoyed the way Mary Worth was portrayed in this book. This was not a mere shadowy form in a mirror. This Mary had teeth, nails, an unparalleled ferocity, and a lust for tormenting and torturing any girl that dared chant her name.

The story occasionally went back to give the readers “snapshots” of things that were happening in the life of the “real” Mary Worth while she was still living. I felt these were especially interesting, given the manner in which they were presented to us. We were not given too much information, just enough to elicit gasps of horror as the bits we heard sunk in.

“. . . She was full of a fury she could barely contain.” 

The action scenes were more gruesome than I had anticipated, in contrast to the often juvenile banter of the main characters. These were the moments that made this story stand out in my mind.

“. . . Pity is a funny thing, though; some people want it, others don’t . . . “ 

Overall, I felt this was a very vivid and malicious version of the Urban Legend. Monahan takes this tale to new heights, leaving the reader to anticipate the next book in the series. While I didn’t care for the first person point-of-view in this instance–nor feel like I “connected” to that character at all–the ferocious nature of this entity showed a lot of imagination and made it a book I didn’t lose interest in.

“Some things are simply too cruel to abide.” 

I immediately purchased the next book in anticipation of learning more about the roots of Mary Worth.


About The Author

Hillary Monahan’s YA debut MARY: The Summoning, a YA Horror retelling of the Bloody Mary myth, sold at auction to Hyperion and is a New York Times bestseller. MARY: Unleashed came out fall of 2015. She’s also published THE AWESOME with Ravenstone under the name Eva Darrows, which received starred reviews in both Kirkus and PW. Her latest Eva Darrows title, DEAD LITTLE MEAN GIRL, out March of 2017, was also Kirkus starred. 

Other Hillary Monahan titles include an adult horror novel in the GODS & MONSTERS series for Solaris called SNAKE EYES. October 2017 sees a YA horror under Hillary Monahan through Delacorte/Random House called THE HOLLOW GIRL about a Romani girl who must take vengeance after she is wronged.

Inquiries can be addressed to: hillaryjmonahan at gmail dot com
News can be found at her Facebook page:
And on Twitter: @hillarymonahan


I am an avid reader/reviewer and collector of books--primarily horror, supernatural, and supernatural-themed thrillers.

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