September 2nd 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Jesse is determined to get her girl friends Kitty, Anna and Shauna together to try to summon the ghost of Mary Worth. She has done her research; gotten letters from her Aunt Dell, tried to talk to women who managed to summon her, and figured out what wards will keep the girls safe. Of course, as with any of the unquiet dead, Mary is not content to come and wave howdy to the girls; she tries to drag Shauna into the mirror with her and claws her shoulders very badly. The girls, especially Anna, are terrified and want to stop the nonsense, but Jesse persists. Shauna realizes that she can now see Mary in other mirrors, and when Mary comes after her at school, she contacts Cody, who was haunted by the ghost for years. Cody lives behind windows covered in pig blood and black paper to remain safe, and cautions Shauna that no one Shauna knows or cares about is safe. Perhaps there is a way to figure out why Mary still haunts people 150 years after her death? The girls investigate a church, but get discovered by the police and sent home. Soon, though, very bad things start to happen. Mary is loose in the world and severely injures one friend and kills another. Secrets are revealed about Jesse's motivations, but the mystery is not resolved, since there is a second book in the works.
Strengths: My 6th graders would be perfectly happy if I handed them Stephen King, but I would soon be out of a job. I realize that they want scary books, but they don't need human-on-human violence, bad language, or TOO much gore. This struck a good balance, and I thought the author's post about the topic was illuminating. This is gross-- Mary's ghost is oozing, bloody, muddy and maggot ridden. She slashes people with her fingernails, and there are horrible smells and bugs. There aren't any flying body parts, but this is a bit scarier than Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes, because it's based more in reality. Buying horror for middle grade students is quite the process.
Weaknesses: There are some odd turns of phrase, and I didn't feel that this was as psychologically scary as it could have been, and I would have liked to know Jesse's motivation for summoning Mary much sooner. However, I can see Monahan being a great success as her writing matures.