Title: Say Her Name
Author: James Dawson
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Source: ARC from publisher
Buy it: Here
It's Halloween and Bobbie, her best friend Naya and the super-cute boy from the village, Caine, find themselves in front of a mirror, proving to themselves (and each other) that ghosts do. not. exist. Five "bloody Mary"s later, and the drip, drip, dripping starts to get louder, and Bobbie starts to think perhaps she was wrong...
First off the mark, let's just start the campaign now for more ghosts in YA, ok?! There is an aching hole just waiting to be filled with scary spectral goodness, and I, for one, really want to read it!
So onto the book... Say Her Name is a great slice of raging teenage hormones, set against a backdrop of tensions and spookiness. I loved that the ghost story itself is that of Bloody Mary. Right away it taps straight into that place of sleepovers and torchlight from my own teenage years, trying to scare each other silly! That's actually exactly what Say Her Name felt like to read; like you were sharing the story with these characters in a dark room.
The story took a little while for me to get into, and I think it's because my one "little moan" about the book came very early on. I'd been debating whether to say it or not, and I won't dwell on it too long... but it felt like the book was very aware of itself. Like it was counting its diversity quota or something... Some phrases felt a bit shoe-horned into the flow of the character description to make sure the reader definitely knew that there is more than the rich white kid in this boarding school tale. I don't know, maybe it's just me? (I'm totally for diverse books, by the way!)
That aside, once the character introductions were out the way, I was fully hooked, swept along nicely, and enjoyed every up, down and big reveal the story had to offer! I especially liked the cute romance that developed between Caine and Bobbie. I wasn't expecting it in a ghost story and I thought it came across as really honest and sweet. It definitely fit in.
I loved Say Her Name as it took "traditional" ghost legend and adapted it really well for a YA audience. The scares were good and well paced, and the atmosphere was nicely reminiscent of torch-in-your-face sleepovers! The addition of blossoming romance to a ghost story is something I wasn't expecting, but really enjoyed it.