Mary: The Summoning does the Bloody Mary legend good. Hillary Monahan moves the story along with a purpose, and by the time you’re done with the first book, you need the second one on-hand immediately. (I’ve already reserved the second book at the library.) We do get a complete story arc in Mary: The Summoning, so it’s more of a gleeful “Must read book 2!” than a frustrated cry. I want to know more about the revelation of the connection to Bloody Mary, and I want a certain someone to get their comeuppance. (And also, why did Mary orient on Shauna to begin with? What made her choose her? Inquiring minds need to know!)
I felt like the interactions between the four friends was very real feeling in Mary: The Summoning. And, by the end of it, I was cheering a few of them on when they finally did what needed to be done. Things were frequently very tense between them, but they also demonstrated a certain maturity when push came to shove and they needed to overcome their differences. Also, it was nice that the parents of some of the kids felt a bit more present in this book. Even though there were still some of the usual tropes like the MC being in a one parent household, the mom was still there. Even if she wasn’t always physically present, she was always texting her kid, checking up on her, letting her know that she was loved and such. It was a nice, positive reinforcement of how a parent can stay in touch with their child in today’s world.
The scenes where Mary was on the other side of the window, trying to get through always creeped me out. I don’t think I’ll be looking in my mirrors any time soon for longer than I absolutely have to. There were elements incorporated that I had never of before in conjunction with Bloody Mary. (However, seeing as how I never actually did Bloody Mary when I was little, I don’t know if they were new elements or what.) The salt on tape thing was definitely a neat trick, though, that you can see a crafty teenager coming up with. Mary: The Summoning has lots of deliciously creepy scenes to keep perpetually tense.
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. One of the biggest faults to Mary: The Summoning is that Mary herself is too Samara-esque. The author does a great job of reminding you exactly how creepy that demon/dead girl movement is from the movies. Which is a problem considering Mary is supposed to be her own freaky character. It’s an awesome thing to be able to remind readers of something that utterly freaked them out, but you don’t want to go too far and make it into a clone, which is kind of what happened here.
Also, and this is something I seem to have run into a few times lately, but the main character Shauna, is just so… blank. Is this a thing in YA books that I’m just now noticing? Do they now try to keep the main characters as blank as possible so that the reader can insert themselves in the story? If so, it sucks. Give us characters who are feisty or quiet. That like loud music, or don’t like music at all. Give us sarcasm, wit, or even timidity. Just don’t give us a character so bland that you can’t remember her bloody name halfway through the book!
Overall, while Mary: The Summoning could be a bit better, I was very pleased with what I read. I can’t wait to get my hands on book 2. Hillary Monahan is a solid writer, and this is a great book in the YA Horror category. And there wasn’t even a love triangle in it, imagine that!