Review: Say Her Name by James Dawson

Say Her Name by James Dawson

Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of ‘Bloody Mary’: say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear… But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?

Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror… five days… but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before…

Until last winter, we always free-fed our cats, leaving their dry food out all the time and letting them eat whenever they wanted. Brigitta got sick at Thanksgiving and was put on a different prescription diet. We’re unable to trust them to eat only their own specific food, so they had to learn to eat on a schedule. The problem is that we go to bed early — 9:30 or 10:00. We also get up early, around 5:00, but that’s a pretty long time for them to go without eating and they get hungry. Brigitta started throwing up from hunger so we had to add middle of the night mealtimes.

This means I get up during the night to feed them. Every night. Sometimes we get up every two hours. Sometimes we only get up once. Brigitta lets me know when they’re hungry by climbing on the bed and patting my head. (So cute!) If I don’t get up, she pats harder.

All of that backstory was to say that I’m up a few times in the middle of the night and now that I’ve read Say Her Name, I’m terrified to go into the bathroom at night because it has a mirror.

Say Her Name is a creepy story with the perfect location: a boarding school. I love boarding school stories! From the descriptions, it’s easy to imagine how dark and sinister-looking the halls of the dorm are. It even has secret passageways.

On a dare from the popular girls, Bobbie and her best friend Naya sneak Caine, a townie and one of the popular girl’s boyfriend (at least in her mind), into their dorm bathroom to summon Bloody Mary. Nothing noticeable happens, but the following morning, Bobbie sees a message on the mirror: FIVE DAYS. When another girl, one who said Bloody Mary into the mirror five days ago disappears, Bobbie and Naya do some research and discover that this isn’t the first time it’s happened at the school. From there, they’re in a race to save their own lives and that of Caine.

The characters are not the book’s strong point. Bobbie doesn’t have many friends and feels like an outsider at school. I can see why, but I didn’t care much about her either. The creepiness of the story makes up for the lack of compelling characters. In horror, the characters don’t matter much anyway. No one reads or watches horror for the characters, or at least I don’t.

Say Her Name combines horror with a mystery about the school. The ending manages to wrap up the story, while at the same time leaving things open for a possible sequel. I’m not sure there will be one or that it even needs one, but the potential is there.

Say Her Name is not currently readily available in the US. It’s not available electronically and Amazon only has a few used copies through its third party sellers. I ordered it from Book Depository, my first experience with them. It took a little longer than I’m used to waiting to get here, but it was definitely worth the wait. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down.

4 stars



  1. Aww @ Brigitta patting your head! <3

    This is the best horror YA book I've read and the one I compare all others too. This is the only book so far that has made me almost wet the bed because I was afraid to go into the bathroom at night especially since I'd have to also pass by the full-length mirror to get there. I ended up waking A up and making him turn on the light for me and I had him wait outside the half open door until I was done.

    I tend to think too many books have unneeded sequels/trilogies these days but this is one that I would love to read more of because of the scare factor.