Review: Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

The Summoning: Mary by Hillary Monahan NG 09/02/14

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?

Title: Mary: The Summoning (Bloody Mary #1)
Author: Hillary Monahan
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Publication date: September 2, 2014

I received Mary: The Summoning from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Bloody Mary is one of my favorite urban legends, so I requested Mary: The Summoning as soon as I saw it on Netgalley. I wanted to review it in time for its release last month, but I ended up saving it for Scaretober.

Jess is the leader of a group of four friends, so the others are easily talked into summoning Bloody Mary when Jess brings up the idea. What could happen? After all, nothing happened when they tried it a few years ago. But this time…Mary appears. That’s not enough for Jess, though. She wants to try again, insisting that she can control Mary because she’s the one summoning her. Anna and especially Kitty are completely freaked out, but for some reason they agree. The nightmare begins when, provoked by some taunting from Jess, Mary escapes from the mirror and somehow crosses the salt line they put down as protection. She scratches Shauna with sharp, razor-like claws and tries to drag her back into the mirror. Shauna friends manage to pull her back out, but it’s too late; Mary is already fixated on Shauna — and she no longer takes orders from Jess.

The descriptions of Mary are fabulous. She’s not just a ghost. She’s decaying, with peeling skin, a pasty white tongue, black and yellow teeth, and oozing a black tarlike substance from her nose. Then there’s the smell: sour, sweet, wet, muddy, and rotting. She must be terrifying just to look at, not even considering what she wants to do to Shauna. She’s able to show up in any shiny surface. Do you have any idea how many shiny surfaces the average person encounters in a day? It’s not just mirrors; it’s doorknobs, windows, cars, screens (TV, computer, cell phone), shower doors, picture frames, the padlocks on lockers, and eyeglasses. The flexible neck of my desk lamp is shiny. The base of my floor lamp is shiny. My blog planner notebook has a shiny spiral. It’s impossible to escape the shiny in the modern world. And Shauna is a high school student, so it’s not like she can just cover all shiny surfaces in her home without any questioning — although her mom does work 80 hours a week, leaving her conveniently alone and able to have her friends stay over all the time. Still, her mom would notice if every window, mirror, etc. in their apartment was suddenly permanently covered and lined with salt.

Luckily, Jess has a little more information about Mary to share. She always seems to have just a little more information than she’s previously told her friends. Jess hooks her up with a woman named Cordelia (Cody) who has been stalked by Mary for almost twenty years. Cody’s reluctant to get involved, and it’s easy to understand why, but she does want to help. Finally free from her own curse (thanks to Mary’s new obsession with Shauna), she shares her experience and a lot of information about Mary with Shauna.

Shauna’s lucky that she has some great friends in Anna and Kitty. They’re very afraid, and they’re in as much danger as Shauna is, but they’re also loyal and determined to protect her. Jess is supposed to be Shauna’s best friend, and she’s supportive too, but there’s something off about her. She’s always pushing for more and won’t give up even in the face of extreme danger. What kind of friend does that? It made me wonder whether Jess was always that way or if it was something recent. It seems like it would be a part of her character, but it’s a side of her that Shauna doesn’t seem to have seen before.

In addition to being thoroughly entertaining and a great book to read at this time of year, Mary: The Summoning shows why you shouldn’t be a follower. Let this book be a lesson! If you just go along with whatever your friend wants to do, you could be stalked by a long-dead rotting corpse and no one wants that.

I did’t realize it at the time I requested the book, but there’s going to be a sequel Mary: The Summoning. I think it could stand on its own, but it’s left open enough that I’m interested in reading what happens next.

4 stars