Sara’s Review of Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan
Never let it be said that I’m a scaredy-cat. While I may be feline, it takes a lot to really creep me out. However, this book definitely made my fur stand on end! Reading this in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep didn’t help matters any either. I’ve spent the last few nights curled up close to my human because of the creep factor found within the pages of this book. Well done, Monahan, very well done, murr!
Before anyone asks, no, I never played Bloody Mary when I was a kitten. I actually had to talk with my human servant to understand what the appeal was, and I have to admit, you humans are a strange lot. Especially when you take in to account that you feel like this stuff is not real. Rest assured, ghosts are very real…just ask any feline. Those moments where we are staring off over your shoulder? Yup, we are looking at and communing with spirits on the other side. Most of the time though, those spirits are pretty harmless. So the idea of a ghost like Bloody Mary is both thrilling and chilling at the same time. =^.^=
One thing I don’t ever want to experience in all of my nine lives is being tortured by a vengeful ghost. What happens to poor Shauna and her friends in this book kept me turning pages long past the time I should have turned out the light and gone to bed. Course, by the time I was ready to go to sleep I couldn’t because I was too wound up from reading. There’s very little down time between suspenseful moments. Just when you think that Shauna’s caught a break and a moment to breathe, Mary shows up to remind her that her life is never going to be the same. Monahan has done a wonderful job with the pacing, vivid details, and building of these scenes. She really knows how to pull readers in and keep them engrossed in the story. At one point I was so immersed in reading that my fellow feline reviewer, Willow, made me jump 3 feet in the air when she sneezed unexpectedly. Yes, the story is that good, murr!
Shauna is a typical high schooler who never considers the repercussions that may happen as a result of messing in something she shouldn’t. I cheered during those moments when she stood up for herself and went on the offensive rather than wallowed in despair. Other times I was hissing in frustration because she wasn’t fighting enough and letting her fear, or Jess, control her. Course, it’s easy to point out the mistakes when it’s not you who is involved in the events. Still, by the end of the book I had a lot of admiration for her and thought that she was a strong individual. I really liked Kitty and Anna. They are really sweet girls and a great set of friends for Shauna to have. They also are believable characters and I easily connected to both of them because their personalities are much like my own. I felt for them because while Shauna goes through a lot, Kitty and Anna are caught on the sidelines and are put through the wringer as a result. I applaud them for sticking by their friend, but if I’d been in their shoes, I would have run the first chance I had in order to protect myself. And what happens to both Anna and Bronx (Kitty’s boyfriend) is seriously messed up. As for Jess, the one responsible for the entire situation, I wanted to claw her eyes out right from the start! By the end of the book I had no sympathy for her at all, but then that assumes I had any sympathy for her to begin with. Yeah, she may be genuine in her desire to want to save Shauna, but when all is said and done, the only person she really cares about is herself. It will be interesting to see if Monahan will allow her to redeem herself in the next book. Personally I hope she continues to suffer, Bast knows she deserves to.
As for Mary…yeah, remind me to never summon her. She’s beyond creepy. Monahan’s description of her appearance made me want to gag, and at one point I found myself picturing the women from the movies The Ring and The Grudge, but with beetles crawling all over them. ~shudders~ I can’t wait to learn more about her! It’s a shame that we have to wait until next year for the sequel. Sigh.
That being said, I couldn’t help but want more of Mary’s backstory in this book. Monahan touches upon it in the three letters that Mary wrote, but you really only get a brief glimpse of the truth. How does Mary really die? Why is she stuck haunting young girls? And why does it take four girls to summon her? If this was actually answered in the book, I missed it. I believe at one point it was alluded to, but I can’t say for sure if what I read was the answer or not. What will it take to actually lay her to rest? All right, so that last question is more speculative and would negate the need for a sequel if it was answered now, but a feline is permitted to wonder! The point I’m trying to make is that it doesn’t seem fair to have such an enticing character, but not allow readers to really know her. Yes, it maintains an air of mystery about her, but would it have really hurt to give us just a bit more information?
I feel that fans of ghost stories will greatly enjoy this book. For the first of a new series and from a debut author, this story is one that is not to be missed, murr! It’s guaranteed to make your skin crawl. And if I may offer a bit of advice, do not read this in the middle of the night. I will not be responsible for your loss of sleep if you do. Heehee.
***My thanks to Disney-Hyperion for providing a copy of this book for an honest review***