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Bloody Mary #1

Mary: The Summoning

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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?

250 pages, Hardcover

First published September 2, 2014

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About the author

Hillary Monahan

15 books331 followers
Hillary Monahan's YA debut MARY: The Summoning, a YA Horror retelling of the Bloody Mary myth, sold at auction to Hyperion and hit number two on the New York Times e-book bestseller list. MARY: Unleashed is out as of fall 2015. She's also published THE AWESOME with Ravenstone under the name Eva Darrows, which received starred reviews in both Kirkus and PW.

Her next three publications are an adult horror novel in the GODS & MONSTERS series for Solaris, due out in December of 2016. Spring of 2017 will see the YA contemporary DEAD LITTLE MEAN GIRL under the name Eva Darrows published through Harlequin Teen. Fall of 2017 sees the YA horror THE WAGON WITCH'S APPRENTICE under Hillary Monahan through Delacorte/Random House.

Inquiries can be addressed to: hillaryjmonahan at gmail dot com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 490 reviews
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,363 followers
August 30, 2014
For some stupid reason I read this only at nighttime and it freaked me the eff out! I have always been terrified of Bloody Mary ever since a bad experience in middle school (just stupid kids thinking we saw more than we did, but back then it was intense!) and just the idea of being haunted by her like this... nope!!!

This book delivers fantastically when it comes to horror content and hair-raising scenes, however it does have a shaky start where I found the reactions to her first appearance underwhelming. My own fear of ghosts could not fathom being so calm when faced by a ghost in a mirror… Fortunately it got more believable after that, so don't judge it too quickly if you feel like I did. Once Mary appears a second time is where the real sh*t starts. First person narrative makes it easy to put yourself in Shauna's shoes. It makes you look around and imagine all the shiny surfaces Mary could use to terrorize your life, bringing about a perfect reading atmosphere. Especially if read at night across from a mirror (have a vanity in your bedroom, or maybe a closet door mirror? Muahaha). The pacing is also well balanced between the vivid horror scenes and the progression of the storyline. Then when you add in an ominous vibe throughout brought on by the constant threat of a visit from this terrifying, vengeful ghost, we've got ourselves an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride!

Although I had a blast with the horror side of this novel - Mary is described with such detail and unrelenting monstrosity that I would be freaked out by own imagination - the plot itself could have given us a bit more to bite into. No matter how much I enjoyed the ghostly scenes, I was even more engaged by the storyline surrounding Mary's life. The novel begins with a letter written by Mary herself, this kicks off the book with just the right tone, but also hints at her psyche that's just starting to crack. After all, there is a reason she is the way she is in this cruel afterlife. As the story progresses, we learn more bits and pieces of her past, and we do eventually get a pretty wide look into what has happened to her, leading up to her death, but I wish we'd gotten further into the mystery of her ghost. This may just be my impatience talking as I know there's going to be a book 2, but I feel like I was not given enough.

With that being said, the writing is solid, the storyline is compelling, and the horror scenes are disturbingly vivid. And really, if you read this for the horror story that it is, you should be pleasantly surprised!

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews370 followers
January 11, 2015
Initial Thoughts: Do not read this book late at night when you are all by yourself. You will find yourself reaching for a box of salt, and lots of blankets and sheets to cover all the mirrors. This book would make a perfect summer horror flick - you know, the kind with the silly teens summoning a ghost for fun - then all hell breaks loose. This is a wild, fun, and very entertaining horror book - and this is coming from someone who doesn't usually read horror. Read at your own risk, :)

The Review:
Thankfully, I never got to play Bloody Mary when I was a kid. I don't think that I could have stayed in a dark room, holding hands with my young friends chanting "Bloody Mary." I'd be too freaked out. You see, I generally avoid horror stories. I'm too much of a chicken.

So why did I choose to read Mary: The Summoning? Well, it is marketed as a children's/young adult book, so how scary could it be? The answer: FREAKY SCARY. The author sets the atmosphere well - there's lots of creaky old buildings and the town of Solomon's Folly sounds oh so perfect for a ghost story. And yes, the town is very old, very dark, with a creepy old church full of bats. And Mary - stay away from her - she's quite the vindicative ghost.

Here's a sample of what's in this book:
"In the past, when I watched horror movies because I thought being scared was fun, I always got angry at the characters whose hands shook so badly they dropped the car keys when the monster was chasing them. If someone wanted to survive, she would keep it together long enough to get away. Now, standing in the locker room like a frightened lamb, I understood. Fear shut my body down..."
Mary: The Summoning has excellent entertainment value. It's freaky scary and I actually wanted more.

Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for a review copy of this book.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,622 reviews5,059 followers
January 10, 2018
#1 The Summoning ★★★☆☆
#2 Unleashed ???

This review is long overdue, and I'm finally caving and just writing a mini-review for it. I originally gave it 3.5 stars and was going to round up to 4, but as time has gone on, I've realized I can't really justify rounding it up to 4 stars.

I grew up obsessed with the urban legend of Bloody Mary, so when I learned that there was a horror duology about it, I had to snag it. The horror aspect itself is wonderful: Mary is creepy as hell and the fact that she seems unstoppable makes it really suspenseful. I loved the idea that she could appear in reflective surfaces other than just mirrors, because it basically made the characters' entire surroundings a threat.

That said, the horror aspect was the only thing I loved about this book. The characters are so cliche and unlikable for the most part - especially Jessica, the "mean girl" character who follows the stereotype to the bitter end and has literally no redeeming qualities, despite the narrator's constant defense of her as her best friend. I literally wanted to throw the book at one point because I was just so sick of the narrator's justifications for Jessica's behavior.

Besides the "mean girl" trope, there's another trope in this book that I had a huge problem with and haven't seen anyone really addressing: the only token overweight friend is the cliche scared, obnoxious, overly anxious, "stick in the mud" friend who everyone constantly gets frustrated with. Given the fact that I know this book is a few years old and I've seen Hillary post a lot of own-voice pro-body-acceptance stuff on her twitter, I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that her intentions weren't to be hurtful, but as a plus-size reviewer, I was honestly really frustrated by the way this character was depicted.

Though I probably found more individual things to dislike than things I liked in this book, all in all, like I said, it was creepy. The horror of it was fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ending, as well as the backstory we got on what made Bloody Mary the way she is. All of that in mind, you can see why it was tough for me to decide between rounding up or down, but in the end, I had to go with my gut.
Profile Image for Paige  Bookdragon.
938 reviews608 followers
May 20, 2015
I keep on telling you people, don't dare to call the dead. Now see what happens when you tried messing up with some unfriendly ghosts.

Shauna, Jess, Kitty, and Anna were the kind of girls you would definitely hate for their stupidity if this is a horror movie.

But this is not a movie.This is a book. So hold your horses, haters.

We have this group of friends who successfully called Bloody Mary. How the paranormal experts would have rejoiced if this is true.But like the same things that happens in those movies, something went wrong because SOMETHING WOULD ALWAYS GO WRONG WHEN IT COMES TO PARANORMAL SHITS

I put this one on-hold before because I wasn't feeling the love yet. When I came back to this book,I was still having some reservations. I don't know if my issues with this book were resolved because until now, I still don't know what to feel. This book is not perfect. There are some things that makes me roll my eyes, some characters I would like to offer to Bloody Mary personally and some sad-I-can't-believe-that-happened-moments.

This book is not for everybody but it has some moments that'll make you go:


November 9, 2014
Bell, Book & Candle | Mary: The Summoning Review

So I thought I would review something scary in honor of Halloween. Muah ha ha ha (*evil laugh*). What's more scary than a Bloody Mary? Plenty of things I'm sure, but that's not the point. I was plenty scared, believe me. Maybe it has a little to do with me being the only one downstairs tonight; I live in house inhabited by a few ghosts (I'm so serious right now). You can only imagine my reaction every time is heard a noise, or thought I saw something in the mirror that hangs by my bed-I just about pissed myself!

For the life of me I will never understand why people insist on playing around with things they don't understand; it's a recipe for disaster. However our 4 main characters: Shauna, Jess, Anna and Kitty didn't get that memo. These foolish girls decide they want to summon Bloody Mary, yielding disastrous results. One of them gets "marked for death" and they all spend the rest of the book trying to undo what they caused. The plot twists were indeed intriguing, as was the letters written by Bloody Mary, I mean Mary Worth. It's not terribly difficult to guess what happens next if you're paying attention, and you may find yourself shaking your head at these characters.

Our POV heroine, Shauna, got more than she bargained for apparently. If I were to sum up Shauna in four words, "curiosity killed the cat" would be them. For the most part I didn't feel sorry for her because of [SPOILER] her desire to see Bloody Mary's face. Uhm, why? After the first summoning of Mary was successful, she and the other should have left it alone and ran far, far away as A Flock of Seagulls would suggest. Not only that, but when she found out Mary would attack those around her she should have put her friends safety first; she's just as much to blame for the "incident" as Jess is. I found Shauna to be kind of bothersome. I think it was her whining that did it in for me.

As for Shauna’s friends, I'm pleased that Anna and Kitty had good sense to not want to summon Mary again, no matter how short lived it was. Those two obviously don't have enough backbone to put their foot down and say no. Jess, the Regina George (Mean Girls) of the group, was a pain in the a**. Are you that desperate for power or whatever it is you’re seeking, that you would endanger everyone's lives over it? What's worse is that she got some sick thrill out of it. I would say I'm appalled, but there's always that "one" friend who's like Jess. Towards the end I can't I was surprised about what was revealed about Jess.

On a personal note, I'm glad I never thought to play the Bloody Mary game when I was a kid, or a Ouija board for that matter. I had a couple of friends who wanted to use the Ouija board at a graveyard- I was like "Oh hell no!"

There are some decent thrills and a cool imaginative story of Bloody Mary. The characters are what you would see in any horror movie- a bunch of fools! Not a bad book to read, though. I would recommend not looking into any mirrors afterwards...especially on All Hallows' Eve!

P.s. Eerie cover right?
Profile Image for Kimberly.
1,673 reviews2 followers
March 16, 2019
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.

Profile Image for Melissa Chung.
904 reviews324 followers
January 10, 2016
Oohhh this book was so good. 4.5 stars because it was soo scary. I mean it kept me at the edge of my seat. I dropped it 1/2 star because Jess is a terrible human being.

There are 4 girls in this story. Shauna the main character, Jess the deceitful bitch, Anna the ballsy one and Kitty the quiet, overly nice doormat. Well okay she isn't a doormat but really close. Shauna and Jess are best friends (I don't know why). Anna and Kitty have been best friends since they were six. That might be the case for Shauna and Jess as well. Anyways, the four girls decide to summon Mary one night and it actually works. Jess is obsessed with Mary and wants to try it again. The next time though things go horribly wrong and that is how the story begins.

The summoning works like a charm but this time Jess tweaks it a bit to get better results without telling her friends first. This ends up marking one of the girls as Mary's target for the rest of the book. I can't tell you how many times I squeaked while reading this book. All the nooooo's I shouted and balled up fists I pointed toward Jess's callous ideas. Her disregard for the safety of her friends. Oh she is a terrible person.

This book was excellent with its fear factors. I was thoroughly scared. I can't wait to pick up book 2.
Profile Image for Erin.
1,174 reviews
May 7, 2014
I've always been fascinated by the 'Bloody Mary' myth and that - I guess - was the main reason why I was super excited to read this book. It had this 'Anna Dressed in Blood' kind of vibe to the book based on the blurb alone, so yeah, I was pretty excited to read this book early!

Unfortunately though, this was yet another book that sounded cool but once read . . . it was nothing particularly special. While the book definitely had its creepy moments and perhaps will please some horror fans out there, but as for me, on the other hand, while I thought the 'Bloody Mary' character was awesome in the book and while the book was written well to a certain point and it was perhaps intended for a much younger audience (which maybe the reason why I didn't enjoy the book as much), but as for the rest of the characters . . . well let's just say . . . the one thing I learned in this book is that:

 photo tumblr_megowbncZd1qdfg6a.gif

There I said it. No seriously, the characters in this book did a lot of stupid things, especially with the whole 'Mary' situation and they could have avoided the whole situation from the very beginning. But instead, they kept doing stupid things. So sadly, I was not impressed by this book, even though it did have its scary moments . . . le sigh. Such a shame with this one because it had a lot of potential. Overall though, if you like a book that is a quick read with the bloody mary myth in it, then it's your kind of book though I have to warn you the characters were not really impressive as sad as it is to say so.

* Thanks to the publisher on netgalley for providing me with a review copy of this book.
Profile Image for Cyna.
219 reviews258 followers
October 9, 2014
Another week, another mediocre horror novel. This time, it’s Mary: The Summoning, which had a lot of interesting elements and potentially cool bits of story that were unfortunately assembled in the most predictable and boring way possible.

The premise is pretty simple: one girl who obviously knows more than she’s letting on convinces three of her friends to get together and summon Bloody Mary. They literally accomplish this on page one, and just as you’re wondering how we’re meant to get a novel out of this, Mary mauls the shit out of our MC, Shauna, which marks her as Mary’s victim, doomed to be stalked and eventually killed by the ghost. From there the book follows the standard scary movie formula: the girls spend most of the book investigating Mary’s life and past victims in an effort to find a way to free Shauna from the curse whilst dodging Mary’s attacks, the gimmick being that the ghost can only harm them physically via some sort of mirrored surface.


Eventually we tread water long enough to trigger the revelation of a twist that’s been pretty blatantly telegraphed all along: Jess, the one girl who was suspiciously well-informed about Bloody Mary from the beginning, instigated the whole thing, and has been pointedly distant since the incident, is actually a biological descendant of Bloody Mary, and has become obsessed with contacting her for thoroughly unexplained reasons.

To temper the predictability of this particular revelation somewhat, Jess isn’t mustache-twirlingly evil, and in fact the climax of the novel centeres around her efforts to remove the curse from Shauna, her best friend, by transferring it over to one of the other members of the group that she doesn’t care about as much. Our MC thwarts her efforts, in the process managing to transfer the curse over to the Jess herself, and Shauna and her one remaining, non-evil friend decide that they need to find a way to banish Mary once and for all, if not for their Jess’ sake, then for the next group of girls who decide to call up Bloody Mary for a laugh. Our novel ends with Shauna reading a centuries-old letter written by Mary, that reveals her penchant for murdering foolhardy teenage girls comes from a wildly misplaced misogyny borne of trauma in her human life.

But we’ll get to that.

Right off the bat, what drew me in to Mary: The Summoning and kept me coasting fairly amiably throughout was that this book is super girl-centric. Not only do we have a female MC, but all of the most important secondary characters are women: all three of Shauna’s bffs are basically co-protagonists for most of the book, our antagonist is the rotten ghost zombie of a teenage girl who’s given a semi-sympathetic backstory, the creepy wise side character who has all the answers is totally a lady, and shockingly, mother-daughter bonds are both present and kind of important. Boys feature in a very limited capacity in the overall narrative and not at all for our heroine, because there there is no!! romantic!! subplot!!, and a lot of the conflict and tension comes from the friendship between our core group of characters.

For like 80% of the book, I was really pleased with this. I wasn’t thrilled with the way the rest of the book was playing out, but at least there were girls, you know? Girls being supportive, girls having different personalities, girls fighting amongst themselves, but making up eventually. Girls going to any lengths to protect one another, girls sharing the spotlight…honestly that’s like the #1 easiest way to get in good with me, and it’s one of the few things that’s managed to set Mary: The Summoning apart from the rest of the ghosty horror crap I’ve read this season.

If only it had just…done something with the landing.

So, I love the idea that we have a character whose face-heel turn is motivated by an extreme desire to protect her female bff. That’s awesome, and that’s a great idea to build conflict around. I really think Jess, the traitor, has the potential to be the most interesting character in the book, because her path has to be wildly full of conflict. She’s driven, for whatever reason, to connect with her ancestor, and she’s totally reckless in her pursuit of this goal. She knows it’s dangerous, but she’s still willing to put her friends at risk, to lie and manipulate them into helping her. However, when her machinations put her best friend’s life on the line, she turns that ruthless determination outward, to save her even if it requires sacrificing someone else.

That is approximately a thousand times more interesting than what our actual main character ends up doing, and I’m kind of disappointed that this wasn’t Jess’ story to begin with, because wow would that put a different spin on things. But anyway, the point is that you have this great conflict between Shauna and Jess that comes to a head at the climax – Jess is totally willing to throw someone else under the bus, but Shauna doesn’t want anyone else hurt because of her, so they fight, with Mary serving more as a ticking clock than a primary antagonist. While I really like this idea, I have a few problems with the way the whole last act played out.

For one, I had to fucking guess about all of that stuff I said two paragraphs ago. You know why? Jess gets absolutely no fucking development, and the relationship between her and Shauna is paper thin. We’re told that they’re best friends and have been since grade school, but we only get a single chapter’s worth of a look at their lives pre-Mary, and none of Jess’ characterization in that chapter relates to that. It all revolves around her temper and her obsession with Mary, and in fact, she almost completely ignores Shauna, so we have no idea how or why that friendship works. Post-Mary, Jess gets shunted to the background to idk, protect the twist I guess, and what little we do see of her shows her to be belligerent and secretive and kind of an asshole, even when she’s trying to save her. By the end, I don’t know why Jess and Shauna are friends, just that they are, and Jess is dedicated to saving Shauna’s life despite the fact that she didn’t seem to care much about putting her in danger at the start of the novel because…I dunno, she just is, ok?

For two, despite a fairly positive and girl-hate-less first three-quarters, they throw around the b-word like it’s nothing in the last fifty pages. This doesn’t seem super-relevant at first, but it really impacts the way I get a read on a novel. Basically, “bitch” is a loaded, lazy term, and when you have female characters throw it around all willy-nilly with like zero apparent awareness of how problematic it is, my willingness to believe that there is a method to this novel’s rapidly emerging misogynistic madness takes a huge nosedive.

Coupled with the whole twist towards the end about how Mary specifically targets “mean girls” (but not really), I was side-eyeing The Summoning hardcore. On the one hand, the sheer absurdity of Mary zeroing in on women to kill when the guy who abused and (probably) eventually murdered her, was you know, a guy, seems waaaaay too…misaimed to not be thematically significant in some way. Granted, the teenage girl who tormented her and coined the name Bloody Mary was totally a monster, and I don’t want to downplay that, but she was not the one who murdered Mary’s mother and ruined Mary’s shit. That was a dude, a terrible, adult dude, so I’m sort of hoping that further books might expand more on this…weirdness.

On the other hand, they didn’t go anywhere with that shit in this book, so I could tooooooootally be overthinking the this, and Mary and/or this book could just be a misogynistic piece of crap. I suppose only time will tell.

Compounding the issue is the fact that, for all the brief whiffs of feminism, girl-power, and solidarity, this is 75% straight, white cast. Only one of the four core girls is not white, and guess which girl is the only girl to actually die protecting the (white) heroine?

Basically, Mary tanked/failed to develop any of the character things that made it stand out to me in a positive way, which means that it had then better have a stellar fucking ghost story to back it up, buuut it doesn’t.

Not only is the ghost plot predictable as fuck, but it’s not scary. I know I keep saying that about these Halloween Spooktacular books, but I just, I can’t help it. It’s not scary to me. And I mean, I don’t think I’m THAT hard to freak out. I feel like I’m actually ridiculously easy to creep out, thanks internet, but the type of horror that these books keep going for is just the wrong way to do it for me. There’s no subtlety, it’s just like RARGH BLARG OOGA BOOGA BOOGA, and then a skeleton popped out! We get a lengthy description of how gross the ghost is and how bad she looks, and how she totally walks like that girl in The Ring, like that’s totally scary, right? Well yeah, it is when you’re watching it, but I’m not watching it now, I’m reading about it. So sure, I think it’s gross, but gross isn’t inherently scary, it’s just gross.

I mean, the least scary part of any horror movie is when the monster finally reveals itself and the protagonists have to come out and fight it, right? The scariest part is way before that, when they know something is there, creeping up on them, stalking them, but they don’t quite know what it is or where it’s coming from. It’s the fear of the unknown, when your imagination conjures up a million options that are infinitely scarier than whatever it actually is. That’s the kind of scary that works for me, and I feel like that’s the part of the story that these books spend the least amount of time on. There’s no suspense, just violence.

I just was not wild about how this book turned out. It’s not, like, loathsome, but despite the presence of lots and lots of girls, the story was boring, the horror was lacking, and I spent most of it wishing we were seeing it from a more interesting character’s perspective. I’ll probably check out the sequel to see if they make anything interesting out of it, but unless that one’s utterly spectacular, you can probably give this one a miss.


See more reviews like this at You're Killing.Us
Profile Image for Erin .
236 reviews39 followers
May 24, 2017
When I first seen this in the library I was like Oh yeah! I mean come on that cover is bad ass! My initial reaction before reading this was OK this better scare me! And it sure did that! I don't scare easily. I'm a horror girl through and through! The scarier and gorier the better in my opinion! So naturally I'm going to love horror books! And this scared me! Every detail of Mary and the way she moved and maneuvered from one shiny object to the next was just BOOM! Even down the the small details of her fingernails and teeth! Hillary Monahan really put Mary together very well. While reading this I could literally picture Mary and all the grotesque things that make her horrifying! I loved the back story of Mary Worth. I loved that you were able to read and see into Mary's life before she took the name Bloody Mary.

So enough about Mary Worth let me talk about the main characters. First, Shauna I liked. She is the mellow one out of the group. She tries to keep peace between all her friends. Where has Kitty and Anna are tired of getting stepped on and "bullied" by their other friend Jess. Now Jess is very outspoken and highly driven! She becomes obsessed with Bloody Mary. She learns all the rules and what to say and do should Mary appear. The first time they summoned Mary it went well. But the second time Jess changed up the routine. For instance Salt plays a major role in summoning Mary. But the circle is broken when Mary comes out the mirror. After this chaos and torture occurs. She especially hunts Shauna. So she sets out to break whatever hold Mary has on her. She goes to other survivors of Bloody Mary!

After a few dead ends and one of her best friends being taken by Mary, Shauna begins to think there is no way to defeat Mary. She then starts to despise Jess. Come to find out Jess is kin to Mary Worth great niece times 5 over! So this sets the stage for a totally different game for Shauna.

I didn't like the ending to much. That's the reason I gave it 4 stars. I feel after all the trauma and everything the girls went through the ending could have been much better. I thought of a few different scenarios that I would have made into a ending.

Profile Image for Grace.
888 reviews75 followers
October 31, 2022
2.5 stars. I think my rating would be higher if I liked the characters lol. It was pretty creepy for a YA which is good, but it didn’t like personally spook me if that makes any sense. Ah well, here’s hoping I like the sequel better.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,370 reviews920 followers
July 14, 2017
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

‘Mary moved fast. One moment she was distant, the next her hands smacked against the mirror. Her fingers flexed, and then the clawing began, a shrieking squeal of razors cutting across glass. I jerked back, forcing myself to maintain the handhold. There’d been no noise during the last summoning. Now, the sound was undeniable.’

When Jess uncovers the secret to properly summoning Bloody Mary, she convinces her three friends Shauna, Kitty and Anna to join her to see if it will indeed work. The candle is lit, the salt is poured beneath the base of the mirror, hands are linked and her name is called three times. None except Jess expected her to actually appear, but she does. Being unable to see her clearly during the first summoning, Jess convinces the girls once more but makes slight modifications to the ritual beforehand. When the girls bound hands are broken mid-ritual, Mary has an instance of freedom and marks Shauna’s back with her razor sharp claws. Mary is no longer bound by the mirror and appears in any and all shiny surfaces, eager to drag Shauna in with her. The girls must uncover the story of Mary’s life before she began haunting and murdering anyone who dared called her name before a mirror.

‘Mary’s face tore through the mirror, twisting and writhing feet away from me. Her jaw snapped like a rabid dog’s, a string of green saliva hanging from her maw like she hungered for flesh.’

MARY: The Summoning manages to draw up memories of my teenage years when sleepovers consisted of horror movies, Ouija boards and attempts to summon Bloody Mary in the bathroom mirror. Fortunately, those summoning’s never quite panned out since my friends and I were not aware of the salt trick. The creep level of MARY is fathomless and only gets worse as the book progresses, but it never fully frightened me. Maybe I’m desensitized to scary due to too many horror novels or maybe I’m just older and know better not to go say Bloody Mary’s name in a bathroom three times so I have nothing to truly fear. What was definitely on par though were the incredibly detailed descriptions of Mary and her gruesomeness that will definitely give you the heebie-jeebies.

‘She was more spider than ghoul right now, one of her elbows bent in instead of out, her feet flat to the ground so she scurried instead of walked. Her back was arched too low. Her head dangled at an unnatural angle while her white serpent tongue thrust out from between her lips, licking our scent in the air.’

Aside from the typical cheesy horror film antics of four teenage girls being complete morons trying to summon serial killer ghosts, a fascinating aspect of MARY was the details that were uncovered about the time when Mary was still alive and kicking. The book is interspersed with actual letters from Mary Worth to her sister Constance detailing her day to day life between 1863 and 1864 when she died at the age of seventeen. The letters paint a horrific picture of her life before she died and certainly makes sense when she considers her current existence. There were still many questions to be answered, the full story is still largely unknown, and will hopefully be explored much more in the next installment. I’m hoping for additional character development in the next installment as well. The girls all felt very stereotypical, just acting out their requisite parts as being there just to be haunted by Mary, and their history is only briefly explored. Jess definitely garnered the most interest from me and I’m intrigued to learn more about how the author chooses to portray her motivation behind the obvious obsession with Blood Mary.

MARY: The Summoning is perfect for fans of supernatural horror stories that will thrill you but not leave you completely terrified. But you might not look at mirrors the same for a while.

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Josiah.
3,211 reviews146 followers
October 30, 2019
When a fresh talent like Hillary Monahan has a debut as good as MARY: The Summoning, it's a pleasure to behold. The book is a roller coaster that barrels around every turn with terrifying abandon, takes you places you never expected to go, and leaves you at the end somehow still in one piece. The story begins with seventeen-year-old Shauna and her friends Jess, Kitty, and Anna alone in Anna's basement, ready to partake in the old tradition of attempting to summon "Bloody" Mary Worth's ghost in the bathroom mirror. Jess has done research and claims to know how the summoning must be done for Mary to actually appear. The first time the four girls link hands around the mirror in the dark, an image shows up briefly, but the connection breaks before anyone gets a good look at Bloody Mary. Kitty and Anna are unnerved, but Shauna votes with Jess to try the summoning again soon so they can have their encounter with Mary and be done with it. The girls have no idea what they're in for.

Every precaution is taken to keep Mary sealed within the mirror before Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna link hands and chant together. A dark fog fills the glass and Mary appears, a mess of weeping sores, rotting teeth, decaying flesh, bone, and sinew. Her soulless eyes crawl over the shocked teens as Mary tests the mirror, jabbing individual fingers through the now viscous surface. A line of salt beneath the mirror prevents Mary from completely crossing over, but the sight of those rancid black fingernails sends shivers up Shauna's spine as surely as the beetles that scurry across Mary's gray skin and spout from her pus-filled wounds. Jess needs to send Mary back now.

A few quick words sends the mucousy hag back where she came from, though Shauna, Kitty, and Anna are badly shaken when the lights come on. But they're nowhere close to having seen the worst of Mary. As soon as they stop holding hands, she oozes out through the mirror. How did Mary cross the line of salt? With supernatural strength in her decaying limbs, Mary drags Shauna back through the gelatinous mirror, which floods Shauna's mouth and nose with black goo. She's a heartbeat away from drowning before the other girls pull her back from Mary's grasp and into the bathroom, and Jess reinforces her protective measures to keep Mary inside the mirror this time. The monster shows no desire to leave, and Anna is furious; summoning Mary was Jess's idea, and now the vile haint is trying to break out through Anna's bathroom mirror. What will her parents do?

The only object of Mary's obsession, it turns out, is Shauna. The ghost follows her home and shows up not just in mirrors, but any shiny or glasslike surface. The encounter in Anna's basement was traumatic, but toxic anxiety pumps through Shauna's body all that first night as she helplessly waits for Mary to pop up in the reflection off sink faucets, appear inside the frosty glass of the shower, or take control of every doorknob in the room, locking Shauna inside for as long as Mary wants. During the assault in Anna's basement, Mary raked her diseased fingernails across Shauna's back, tearing ragged trails in her flesh, and now she has the blood scent of the girl who escaped being dragged into the mirror. If anything drives Mary crazier than losing a potential victim, it's the smell and taste of a terrified teen girl's blood.

Mary can attack Shauna or anyone in Shauna's vicinity without warning. Black fingernails slash from out of doorknobs, and powerful arms grab from out of clear window glass. Jess had no idea Mary would be like this, but she, Kitty, and Anna regroup to help Shauna survive until Jess thinks up a new plan. The first order of business is to contact Cordelia (Cody) Jackson, a thirty-something woman Jess spoke with before the summoning to learn most of what she thought she knew about controlling Mary. For seventeen years Bloody Mary stalked Cody, murdering her friends one by one until Cody shut herself away from the world. Mary slashed Cody's flesh to ribbons, lopping off fingers and toes, even gouging out an eye. Cody has lived in a hell of Mary's making for half her life...until now. When Shauna arrives at Cody's home she learns the full weight of the curse that has now shifted to her. Cody lives with pig blood smeared on every windowsill to confuse Mary's bloodlust, and flies buzz all over the house's reeking interior. Shauna won't ever have another decent night's rest as long as Mary pursues her, Cody says. She must sever all relationships with friends and family or see them gruesomely killed by Mary, who delights in causing psychological torment. Just riding in a car with someone endangers their life; Mary can appear in car windows, mirrors, or commandeer the metal doors to lock passengers inside until she flays them with her knifelike nails. To Shauna, the world has become a haven of shiny objects Mary might pop out of at any moment, and the stress is close to unbearable.

Shauna is surprised when Kitty, Anna, and Jess stand by her without question, devising anti-Mary measures to implement until they find a way to end the threat. Even Jess, who pushes Kitty around and argues with Anna constantly, dismisses any thought of abandoning Shauna. They place garments over every mirror in sight, put clear tape over windows with salt on the sticky side, and steer Shauna clear of areas where Mary has too many attack portals to defend. Yet the demon lady breaks through their defenses repeatedly, injuring Shauna and her friends, cackling the word that turns Shauna's blood to ice: "Mine, mine, mine, mine." She writes the word in foggy windows and mirrors, clogs up shower heads with muck and blood, and elevates the violence whenever Shauna thinks it can't get worse. Mary despises crowds, so Shauna is generally safe at school. Mary also shies away from mothers, so Shauna is less vulnerable when her mother is around, which isn't often because she works so much. Cody warns that Mary's distaste for crowds grows weaker over time; if Shauna insists on being in the company of others, some of them will die, and Cody knows from personal experience that Shauna will blame herself. She hasn't told her mother about Mary—would she believe her anyway, or lock Shauna away for psychiatric treatment?—and Shauna dodges her mother's questions as suspicious accidents start following her around. She's barely holding her sanity together, but Shauna can't breathe a word to her mother.

With few leads to go on, Shauna lets Jess take her, Kitty, and Anna to places that might hold hidden information on Mary's past. Snippets of old handwritten correspondence indicate Mary had a decent life in mid-eighteenth century America until Philip Starkcrowe became pastor of her church. The lecherous man abused his power to hurt Mary and her mother until Mary's untimely death in 1864. Is her corpse buried beneath the church in the town of Solomon's Folly? The hunt for clues grows desperate as Mary's boldness intensifies, and people Shauna cares about die in grotesque ways. Jess believes she can lift the curse, but is Shauna willing to transfer it to someone else? No, she refuses to be that evil...but will her resolve stay strong as the death count piles up? Mary refuses to allow Shauna a moment's peace, but the hag must have some secret vulnerability. If only Shauna could escape her ceaseless attention.

This book is a rarity, a horror story that fastens its claws on the reader and drags them in as gleefully as Bloody Mary pulls victims into her mirror. The action is unpredictable and frightening; I felt uncomfortable as I read, and had an instinctive flinch reaction to shiny objects around my house. Aside from the pure horror factor, the story's profound allegory challenged my intellect and ethos. The internet can be a scary place when another user latches on to you for no apparent reason, reaming you out with nasty language, disgusting innuendo, or publicly making accusations you have no way of defending yourself from. Such hostiles make you feel dirty, though you've done nothing wrong, and they may stalk you everywhere you go online. You feel repulsed, paranoid, and trapped, as though you'll never escape. And what if others are convinced by their lies? There's no easy way to get away from the problem; any screen you access that links to the internet, they may be there spreading their putrescence. As long as there's a screen in sight, you're not safe. People who have been cyber-stalked or bullied will easily place themselves in Shauna's shoes, familiar with the helpless feeling of being unrelentingly harassed. Some who haven't experienced it would discount their burden, reminding them they can turn off the computer any time they want, just as people would scoff if Shauna claimed Bloody Mary is stalking her. What can you do when your troubler, in the minds of many, isn't a real threat at all?

Another strength of MARY: The Summoning is its symbolism regarding personal demons. As anyone with an addiction can attest, being a slave to your body or mind is agony; you want to go back to a normal, happy life, but breaking addiction isn't that easy. Dabbling in the darkness seemed fun and harmless at first, but when it sinks its claws into you there may be no turning back. Flirting with supernatural evil is exciting as long as it seems contrived, but once you summon Mary, she isn't an obedient puppy who will retreat to her doghouse as soon as you utter the correct command. Bloody Mary is a noxious monster who piggybacks off your innocent curiosity to terrorize you, destroying your dreams of falling in love, having a career, whatever you thought would give your life joy and purpose. And playing games with evil doesn't harm only you. When you cultivate a personal demon, your friends and family get pulled in. The demon may cause way more destruction than expected, and some of it may not be your fault, but will you let your loved ones become its victims? This is Shauna's dilemma: she wasn't signing up for a lifelong tormentor when she entered that bathroom and chanted Mary's name. All she wanted was a night of creepy fun. Now, her friends, family, and other bystanders could end up brutally murdered. Is she okay with them becoming collateral damage just because Shauna can't stand to face Mary alone? Cody repeatedly urges Shauna to isolate herself from everyone. "Something you need to understand...Mary won't be content taking just you. She wants you alone and vulnerable. She wants to punish you for escaping her...People like us have to make sacrifices to protect the people we care about. If you love them, leave them. Now. It's a lesson I learned too late." Can Shauna shut down her every relationship just when she needs the support to prevent her from going insane? Is blaming her for Mary's actions a classic case of victim shaming, a moral fallacy that should be rejected at all costs? Whether it's Shauna's fault or not, she brings Mary wherever she goes, and that comes with a degree of responsibility. Some personal demons are less devastating than others, but I wouldn't wish the worst ones on anybody.

There's a sequel to this book that probably reveals more about Mary's human past, but what we've already seen of her suffering gives clues as to how a normal young lady morphed into a hateful beast. Horrible things befall people in this life, pain that can turn them into creatures who feast on the agony of others, but indulging your rage and bitterness does nothing but eliminate any chance for a happy future. Somewhere along the way Mary transformed into a shadow being; no longer human, just a vile supernatural harpy. We see her humanity fading in a letter dated October 27, 1864, the day prior to her death: "I am a creature born of injustice and fury", Mary writes. She had reason to be angry, but feeding on poisonous emotion couldn't save her. She became the demon that haunts innocent girls, grosser and more wicked than anyone who harmed Mary. Her fate is a caution to those willing to change before their own course is inalterably set.

Mary: The Summoning isn't the first novel written about the Bloody Mary legend, but it's the best version I've read. In folk tales Mary often seems scary but isn't an unmanageable threat; there are charms, magic words, and rules to restrict her to the mirror. Hillary Monahan enlarges Mary's effect through surprising yet logical means. Additionally, Mary is depicted as so graphically gross that it set my teeth on edge and spurred me to genuinely hate her, not just view her as a fun, spooky villain to somehow be thwarted by the end. That visceral reaction triggered real panic in me as she pervaded Shauna's life and turned it into a nightmare. The horror would not have felt as immediate if my imagination weren't given such vivid cues for picturing Mary. This is a splendid horror novel; I'd rate MARY: The Summoning three and a half stars, and I'm almost undecided whether to round up or down. If you enjoy excellent horror writing with superior thematic depth, this is the book for you.
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,738 reviews749 followers
July 4, 2021
I’m right in the middle with this one, I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it either. Some parts were incredibly interesting and at times I was thoroughly enjoying this novel and convinced it would be a five star read because there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good YA horror story! This one had some original and unique ideas that I really did enjoy but then one element in particular threw me off the story. The characters are just so insufferable at times that I wanted to rip my eyeballs. They were seriously next level annoying and had no redeeming factors whatsoever. So while the story was great, the characters prevented it from being as good as it could have been.
Profile Image for Rayne.
852 reviews288 followers
July 22, 2014
Mary is, without a doubt, one of the most decent classic horror YA novels I've ever read, mostly because it didn't stick solely to the cliches and attempts to scare the reader, but also actively worked to deliver well-crafted horror scenes, characters with some dimension, a complex background story to the urban legend of Bloody Mary and, most importantly, it has some semblance of a plot in there that culminates in a pretty exciting climax.

There's horror and high school friendship drama in equal measure in this book. Most horror novels leave the characters as cardboard cutout stereotypes or are only invested in characters that are somewhat damaged, so it was refreshing to see a classic horror novel spending so much time showcasing these 4 standard teenagers and the dynamics between them. Having said that, strangely enough, the relationships between them are a lot better written and developed than the actual characters are. You have to stick to the whole story to see some dimension to the characters and most of their characterization relies on telling rather than showing, but once you get there, particularly in the climax, the characters end up being rather enjoyable and their decisions towards the end feel natural to how they were crafted.

During the first half, most of the characterization is told and comes entirely from their relevance to their relationship with Jess. It isn't until she's out of the picture for a while that most of the characters, including Shauna, manage to shine on their own. Jess is admittedly the most interesting character in the book, but it wasn't so much that she overshadowed the other characters as it was that the focus of the writing, the narration and the characters themselves was centered on her and mostly everything else was disregarded. That's pretty much why I didn't care much about the story or the characters during the first half of the novel. Everything was so centered on Jess, mostly everything else dulled or was left underdeveloped. But the book, and the other characters flourished considerably during the second half when she was not there to hog the spotlight.

Strangely enough, I did like the friendship drama. It offered a reprieve from the constant horror, which would've exhausted the reader otherwise, and it was developed further than I would've expected from a book like this. It also wasn't as overwhelming as it is in some YA books. Moreover, it raised the stakes considerably and contributed to the thrilling and exciting nature of the climax.

I liked that this author wasn't afraid to take risks. Many YA horror novels fail for me because you know the characters are safe regardless of what happens in the story. That is not the case with Mary. I started the novel thinking this would be another such instance where there's no risk, no point to worrying about the characters, and I was quickly proven wrong in the most surprising of ways. It was in that moment that the book finally hooked me. For the most part, the novel is predictable, and it is certainly not hard too see how the ending will turn out, but the author still managed to shock a reaction out of me and make me race about that climax.

The horror scenes were undeniably well-written and nicely developed. The author didn't miss a single detail and they all give the impression that the author hammered them down for a long time until they were the best they could be, but sadly, I was never actually scared. The descriptions were creepy, but the concept never transcended into an actual feeling of fear for me. Moreover, aside from those horror scenes, the writing in the rest of the book is pretty standard, nothing noteworthy, and much too reliant on telling instead of showing. Also, the narration was slightly repetitive and most of the book is a loop of horror scenes -hysterical fear- friendship drama-repeat.

The author saw a chance to adapt the Bloody Mary story and she took it a lot further than I expected. In a short amount of pages, she managed to carefully develop the story and give a living Mary some really great dimension, which was a fantastic way to contrast the dead, haunting Mary. The story behind her was interesting and actually contributed to the development of the plot and the characters.

In the end, this is an entertaining book that makes the best with what it has at its disposal. It may not have a lot of substance, but it goes the extra mile and actually tries to be more than it was supposed to be and goes slightly deeper than some other books in this genre. I don't think this book needed a sequel, much less a series, and I would've preferred for it to be a stand alone because I don't believe there's enough story left for a series, but this one was entertaining enough that I'm willing to give the sequel a fighting chance, especially after that climax. It was an okay book by all standards, but it surpassed my expectations, took risks and tried to be so much more than it could've been, even though it didn't always succeed completely, and that made my experience reading all the better for it.
Profile Image for Dark Faerie Tales.
2,274 reviews545 followers
March 17, 2015
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: In this first novel in the series, horrific images of Mary will play in your head for weeks after reading.

Opening Sentence: Dearest Constance, I regret to inform you that you are an abysmal sister.

The Review:

Shauna, Jess, Kitty, and Anna are good friends, so it seems like something exciting for a night, to summon Mary. I mean, nothing will actually happen, right? As you might have guessed, they were horribly wrong. Mary, in a foolish mistake, gets a taste of Shauna’s blood. And when she tastes blood, she’ll keep haunting that person ruthlessly — until they’re dead. As time goes on, and Mary’s hunting gets more and more deadly, it seems that Jess knows more about Mary’s past than she’s letting on, and sometimes, it’s hard to tell whose side she’s on. In this first novel in the series, horrific images of Mary will play in your head for weeks after reading.

Okay, confession: this was my first horror novel. The genre has never really interested me, and I don’t understand the fun in having nightmares. I was a bit (okay, a lot) terrified going into the story, and thinking “screw it, I’ll get scared anyway”, I read it right before bed. Wrong move, Kaitlin. I am going to accept my idiocy and try to move past it. I mean, it could have been scarier, but I was definitely trying to block out some of it so that might have just been me. The visions of Mary with her dead, rotting body and sagging, decaying flesh made me cringe. That’s one thing this book did incredibly well, describing Mary. And Mary could come out of every surface that was even a little reflective. Glass, metal, and especially mirrors — all of those surfaces were fair game. Suffice to say, I tended to avoid mirrors when reading this book.

I’ve never tried to summon Mary, nor have I ever wanted to, and going into the story I knew that Mary would somehow escape or something. So, the first time they summoned her, I warily accepted it. Jess was a believer, but the rest of them were just under the peer pressure, so I wasn’t frustrated with them giving it a go. It was the second time that ticked me off. The first one worked! They got their Mary experience, congrats! Why, oh why, would you try it again? And why would Jess be so stupid, drawing her out, trying to get her to talk, caught in a dangerous game? I had absolutely no respect for Jess. I didn’t find her determined, or persevering. I was more angry at Jess, this horrible character, than I was scared of Mary.

Shauna was a character that I did respect. The girl broke down a few times, but you can hardly blame her. She was being haunted by a vengeful ghost because her best friend made an idiotic mistake (that she barely apologizes for). The rest of the time, she stayed hopeful, but grimly determined, and she made sacrifices. She never truly gave up, she kept fighting. Another great thing was that she wasn’t in a romance, there wasn’t a love interest. She saved herself, with occasional help from her two good friends. (I’m excluding Jess because she’s a horrible person and I refuse to acknowledge her.) I liked the process of the story and how she developed as Mary became worse and worse, gaining power. I also enjoyed her alliance with the other women who was haunted by Mary.

This book was chock full of action, gruesome Mary scenes, and uneasy alliances. There was a mystery element to it as they delved deeper in Mary’s past but I really didn’t feel that there was much stress on that aspect. I wish there was less brutal Mary fighting scenes and more discovering secrets about Mary’s past, but oh well. It was set up nicely to lead into a second book, so oh joy, another book about a disgusting vengeful ghost. Can’t wait! All the same, besides my clear hatred for Jess, I really did enjoy this book and found it an interesting read. I’m somewhat proud of myself for venturing outside my comfort zone, and I know I’ll have to do it again soon. I have two other horrors. Any fans of the Ouija movie will find this a spine-tingling novel.

Notable Scene:

“Mary, Mary,” she said again.

“Where, Cody?” I barked.

Cody stopped in her tracks, one foot in the living room, the other now in the kitchen. Her head swiveled toward me. She looked so empty for a moment, so fragile, but then she snorted and looked away. Color blossomed in her cheeks like she was ashamed of her outburst.

“I thought I heard- no. No, I didn’t.” She lifted her salt sack to her chest, cradling it like a baby. Her cheek rubbed against the coarse burlap. “Sorry, so sorry. This happens sometimes, after so many years. You hear something simple and you react, because if you don’t react, you die. It’s that simple.”

FTC Advisory: Disney-Hyperion provided me with a copy of Mary: The Summoning. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Profile Image for J.D..
442 reviews18 followers
April 16, 2020

When four friends decide to summon Bloody Mary, they have no idea what they are inviting into their lives through the mirror. Seeing her once, however, isn't enough and they decide to summon her again. The second summoning quickly spirals out of control, releasing Mary and her fury into their lives. While being haunted by the bloodthirsty ghost in every reflective surface, the girls learn horrible secrets not only about Mary, but also about each other.
The girls scramble to find out more about Mary's past and how to stop her before she kills every last one of them.

Personal opinion:

I was so excited for this book as I am guilty of calling Bloody Mary's name 3 times in a dark bathroom as a teenager. If I would have read this back then, I never would have attempted it.

So let's start with what I did like:
The personal note from the author at the beginning was a nice touch.
Also the vivid and somewhat gruesome descriptions of Maty were amazing and A++ on Mary's twisted backstory.

Now onto the not so great aspects:
While the swamp gas and Hawthorn monster were cool additions, I was left totally curious about them and wish the MC would have had more of an actual encounter with them.
Also the characters were pretty stereotypical. The pretty mean girl, the overweight girl with low self-esteem, the mean girl's best friend who keeps defending the mean girl's actions.

However, I was able to overlook those minor things because it was a good, creepy read that I would recommend reading far away from any mirrors.
Profile Image for Emily.
1,265 reviews331 followers
February 18, 2019
"Mary always goes back to the mirror. It calls to her."

I've had Mary: The Summoning on my shelf for a bit, and I finally picked it up for the Ladies of Horror Fiction Readathon during Women in Horror Month. I'm not sure what took me so long to read this book, but it was so much fun, and I enjoyed every minute.

This book is about four best friends - Shauna, Kitty, Jess, and Anna (and Bloody Mary). Shauna is the main character, but a lot of the story circles around Jess since she creates the mess for the group to clean up. Jess is kind of the worst, and while I had sympathetic moments for her in the beginning, that quickly went away. Everyone else is collateral damage for Jess.

There's still some teen drama going on, and I know that this won't work for everyone. It definitely wasn't the priority of the story, though. Luckily, I still felt like the focus was on Bloody Mary, and everything else was in the background (which is excactly what I was hoping for).

I love hearing about the Bloody Mary folklore, and it brought back good memories of obsessing over Bloody Mary when I was younger. No matter how desperately I wanted to experience something paranormal when I was a kid, this book made me so relieved that I did not.

This was a really enjoyable story, and it had some good creepy moments. I found myself looking down when I passed a mirror the night I was reading this 😂. I was a little spooked. This book is a YA duology, so it doesn't really end as a complete story. Sometimes this annoys me, but since I already knew it was coming, it was fine. I have already ordered the second book in the series, and I can't wait to see what happens. I also have another Hillary Monahan book (The Hollow Girl) to check out, and I can't wait to read more from her!
Profile Image for BookLoversLife.
1,801 reviews9 followers
September 8, 2014
When Jess suggests that Shauna, Kitty, Anna and herself call Bloody Mary the girls are hesitant at first but Jess can be very persuasive. Its a harmless Urban Legend, right? Wrong!!! The first time they do it they see a figure emerge from the fog. They don't get a good look at her because they freak out and Jess sends Bloody Mary away. Once isn't enough for Jess though. She convinces the girls to do it again and this time try to talk to her. The girls are even more hesitant this time but Jess got rid of her once and she can do it again.

This time though the circle is broken and Bloody Mary pushes through the glass. Shauna is closest so Mary grabs her and tries to pull her in to the glass. She escapes and they manage to force Mary into the glass by throwing salt at her. Shauna is injured and bleeding and the girls cant get rid of Mary. Now that Mary has the scent of Shaunas blood she wont leave until she finishes what she started. Shauna and her friends need to find out how to get rid of her before its too late.

All I can say is wow, this was on heck of a creepy ride!! I think everyone knows about Bloody Mary. The idea alone is creepy but to try summon her is just dumb! I grew up with that legend and the legend of Candy Man. Both scared me so much when I was young and there's no way you would catch me saying those names into a mirror. NO WAY - *Shudder*!!

Anyway. This starts pretty much straight away we the girls summoning Mary. They manage to glimpse her but freak and send her away. From the very start you are hooked with the authors style. You feel like you are one of the girls, the author makes you feel the terror, the tenseness and the creepiness of the situation. I wanted to hide under the covers when I was reading this!!! From the first time Mary is called you are sent on the creepiest ride and it doesn't let go till the very end.

Shauna, Kitty and Anna never knew what could happen if they managed to call Mary, while Jess knew some things. One thing I loved about the book was how the girls never turned their back on Shauna. They tried everything they could to find answers and to help her. They were all very strong characters. Shauna especially. She is tagged by Mary and now Mary can appear through anything shiny. Shauna could break down but she doesn't. She knows she has to find answers and a possible way of getting rid of Mary forever. But the deeper she digs the more secrets that unravel. Can she figure out Marys story and stop her??

The authors vivid descriptions of Mary were just down right shudder inducing!! I could picture everything that she described and if I was watching it on the big screen (which I could totally see this as a great movie) I know Id be hiding behind my hands ;) I absolutely loved how you could almost feel the atmosphere as the author described it. She can sure write creepy!!! I also loved reading the letters from Mary to her sister. We get a glimpse of how Mary went from being a nice girl to the horror she is today.

From the creepy atmosphere to the scary Mary, this book is a must read. Its a non stop, edge of your seat, heart pounding, thrilling story. I flew through the pages and didn't want it to end. I can not wait for more and this book is one that will stay on my favourite shelf forever. Scarily creepy and hauntingly brilliant, I finished this a few days ago and I'm still scared to look in a mirror ;) I would highly recommend to everyone.
Profile Image for Paige Bradish.
336 reviews10 followers
July 25, 2014
I received Mary: The Summoning by Hilary Monahan from Around The World ARC Tours and this is my honest review.

Finding out there was a fictional book about Bloody Mary was exciting for the sole reason that me and my best friends used to play “Bloody Mary” at summer camp when we were younger. Of course nothing came of it but for a couple young girls we had fun scaring the crap out of ourselves!

My initial thoughts about the main characters are that I dislike Jess for so many reasons. I hate her type of people, shes the type that bosses around her friends and makes them feel bad. She is not a true friend in any way whatsoever. Shauna and Kitty kind of annoyed me because they could not for the life of them stand up for themselves when Jess was clearly treating them awfully. My favorite character was Anna by far because she knew how to stand up for herself especially against Jess and it was awesome.

Monahan did a phenomenal job describing all of the creepy scenes with Mary, and just describing Mary in general. Another thing the author did well was throw in twists that im sure no one saw coming. From page one there was action and it went on throughout the whole book, I could not stop turning the pages. Can I just say Jess totally got what she deserved, enough said. Overall I rated this book a 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:
“I hope Mary eats him,” she said.
“Kitty!” (Pg 98)

Profile Image for Rema.
427 reviews26 followers
January 4, 2015

I'd like to leave it at that but I can't. This book had the suspense, the horror, and the mystery that all good horror movies should have. If this were to be made into a movie, I'd definitely watch it despite being terrified as shit. I loved the characters-they're so real and three dimensional. I especially loved the bonds of friendship that tied Shauna, Jess, Anna, and Kitty together. It was at the most scariest parts that their friendship granted me solace.

Now I'm afraid I'm going to be paranoid as fuck. While I was handing the book back to my sister just a few minutes ago, I could barely step into the hallway. I really thought I heard something. I know I did. It's something that happens on a normal occasion but then it felt like paranoia. This book will scare you shitless. Great storyline too. I really want to know what happens next but I'm still so freaking scared. And the ending was justified.

I usually don't read horror books cause I'm the kind of person who's scared by anything deemed horror. So I really hope Goodreads doesn't recommend me another book like this. I'll be scared shitless. And have I mentioned the cover?
Profile Image for Emma Adams.
Author 77 books908 followers
May 30, 2014
The creepy cover and blurb caught my attention immediately. This is one seriously scary story! It starts with the well-known game “Bloody Mary”. Shauna’s friend Jess is obsessed with the idea of summoning the ghost of Mary from a mirror, and manages to convince Shauna, Kitty and Anna to go along with her plan. None of them expect it to really work, and for the gruesome spectre to walk out into the real world. Mary attaches herself to Shauna, haunting her through every reflective surface and threatening everyone she cares about.

There are very few books which I can honestly say terrified me, but this one did. From the beginning, it had me glued to the pages. The characters and their friendships are well-drawn and the added conflict when Mary targets them made each chilling reveal even more effective. The suspense kept me riveted and it never slowed down, keeping just the right pace. I haven’t read a ghost story this good since ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD. Recommended for all fans of creeptastic horror!

4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Heather Marie.
Author 22 books49 followers
December 14, 2013
I love everything about this book. There were moments when the description was so perfect, I cringed. That does not happen often for me, a book making me react that way. And it wasn't in a way that was too much, but just right. It's everything I love about classic horror. The scare is there, but the gore is left to your imagination. Hillary has a way of presenting the idea and letting your mind run away with it, which is the makings of the perfect horror story, IMO. The pacing was non-stop throughout, sending your anxiety going full throttle at times when you just had to know what the hell they were going to do next. How are they going to fight this thing? It was page after page of me needing to know what the next would bring. Mary: The Summoning is a must for all you horror lovers out there. I can't wait for the cover reveal. I just know it's going to scare the bejeesus out of me.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
34 reviews3 followers
July 5, 2014
This one is a freaky roller coaster of a book. I wanted to reach into the book and shake the characters, talk some sense into them, and rescue a couple of them. I kept thinking things would get better and 'BOOM!' the next bad thing would happen... and the bad things kept getting worse. This is one that I would recommend only if you are looking for a sleepless night because you will be up late reading and then will not want to sleep. I loved it and I am definitely looking forward to the next book!
Profile Image for Persephonie.
786 reviews18 followers
May 2, 2021
Rarely these days do I sit and read a book cover-to-cover in one sitting. I did that with Bloody Mary, which just shows how good it really was.

This is not a book that hides ghosts away from the reader until the last few pages; this is a book that throws the scary stuff at your face for the entire ride. I absolutely loved the vivid descriptions, unfolding lore, and grisly scenes of gore and death.

I’m honestly blown away by how much I enjoyed this one. Unexpected but so pleased. If you’re a fan of urban legends, scary ghosts, and unbridled creep shows, make sure to add this one to your reading list.
Profile Image for Jojobean.
310 reviews
August 23, 2017
Youtube Video Review: https://youtu.be/mm2DuhLWIqE

So this book scared the crap outta me. Besides it being creepy and scary, I read the book mostly at night right before I went to sleep. So that part was my fault.

Basically the story is about four friends who summon Bloody Mary and she breaks out of the mirror to terrorize them. Mary picks one girl in particular, Shauna, to haunt and attack. The story is about the girls trying to find a way to de-haunt Shauna and to stop Mary.

Shauna is the main character of the book. She is the one chosen by Mary to be haunted because Mary tasted her blood. Shauna is a happy popular girl in the beginning of the book and then, as to be expected, she becomes depressed, scared and desperate when Mary haunts her. She wants to keep everyone safe because Mary will go after Shauna's loved ones to get to Shauna. Shauna becomes very jumpy, paranoid and sick. I really liked her as a character because she tries to protect the people she loves and even when she finds out she can pass the haunting on to someone else, she refuses saying that she would never wish Mary on anyone. She is determined to find a way to stop Mary before anyone dies.

I would never be able to be as strong as Shauna was. Mary would appear in anything shiny; glass, windows, mirrors, metal, chrome, plates. Just think about how much shiny surfaces there are in your home. How can all those things be avoided unless you go live in a cave in the mountains? I couldn't even believe how someone would survive the haunting. Literally everything is shiny like computer screens, cell phones, car windows, doorknobs. Mary could literally pop up anywhere and everywhere. No where was safe. Its insane. I'd probably just want to kill myself instead of being scared and wary all the time. I really give props to Shauna for dealing with it all.

Jessica is one of Shauna's group of friends. Jess was the one who had the idea to summon Mary. She learned the "right" way to summon Mary from her aunt and kept notes on how to do it. Jess was the one who kept on pushing the girls to summon Mary more than once. She was the reason things got out of control during the summoning and Mary got out. She didn't listen to the other girls when they told her to end the summoning. She kept on trying to talk to Mary. Jess was also very secretive about the summoning and held information back from the group until it suited her to tell them bits of the info a little at a time. Jess was very sneaky, is a bully and doesn't really care about anyone but herself. She put her friends lives in danger and was willing to let some other girl get haunted without a trace of guilt in her. I hated her and I felt like she deserved to be haunted by Mary instead of Shauna.

Anna and Kitty were the other girls in Shauna's group of friends. Anna is a tough girl who doesn't put up with Jess' s**t and tells her off when she has had enough. She is very strong and continues to help Shauna. Kitty is the weakest of the group but she still has Shauna's back. Kitty is very sensitive and allows Jess to walk all over her. She did likes confrontation and just follows everyone. She gets extremely scared during the summoning and cries a lot. Despite that I still liked her and Anna.

Mary was freaky. Her description is so scary. She is decaying, had black veins all over her and is skeletal, even her face. She scurries places instead of walking and she is always wet. There's always water and muck associated with her. She is super strong and will kill anyone. She chooses one person out of the group that calls her to haunt and will stay with that person for years until the haunting gets passed to someone else. Its sad because Mary was a normal 17 year old, living during the civil war era. The book contains 3 letters written by Mary (Mary Worth) to her sister (these are not real letters, just letters the author made up for the story). Mary seemed to be a nice girl and her problems started when a new pastor came to her parish. Now, Mary is a freaky ghost that scared the crap outta me.

The story has a lot of action and a lot of Mary attacks. She was actually in the book as a character, attacking and haunting Shauna. The book was gory as well and there was a lot of blood. Mary would pop up anywhere and attack. The story was fast paced as well and I enjoyed the tidbits of information that were given to the reader about Mary Worth. I am hoping that there will be even more information about Mary (this book's version of Mary anyway) in the next book because I want to know what happened to her to change her into this hideous murdering ghost.

This review is also posted on The Book Owl Extraordinaire
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