Cover of Mary Will I Die? Creepy girl with all white eyes.

About the Book

Title: Mary, Will I Die?
Published: 2021

Cover Story: The Eyes Have It
Drinking Buddy: Yes
MPAA Rating: PG (frightening scenes)
Talky Talk: Bloody Mary
Bonus Factor: ‘I See Dead People’
Relationship Status: The Old Gang

Cover Story: The Eyes Have it

When in doubt, blank out part of the face. Now it’s a horror story.

The Deal:

A few years ago, middle school students Elena, Grace, Calvin, and Steph played a game. Stuck in the house during a rainstorm, they decided to try the old ‘Bloody Mary’ routine. You look into a mirror in the dark, repeat the name Bloody Mary three times, and you’ll see a vision of your soulmate. Or a vision of your death.

Now high school freshmen, the four have drifted apart. Elena has grown into a junior queen bee. Grace is awkward and quiet. Calvin is an aspiring artist. Steph is a budding athlete, conflicted about her sexuality. Life goes on.

Except…they awoke something something that night. Something dark and hungry. And if they want to get rid of it, they’re going to have to get the old gang back together.

Drinking Buddy: Yes

Two pints of beer cheersing

Like any group of middle school friends, they’ve gone their separate ways over the years. Now Elena is determined to be the most popular girl in school and captain of the volleyball team. She’s horrified when the coach (Calvin’s mother), makes her and Steph co-captains. What right does that gangly, too-tall weirdo have to subvert her position? Steph isn’t interested in fighting with her former friend, but isn’t about to roll over, either. The thing is, Steph has recently realized that she isn’t into boys. She’s into girls. Not ready to come out yet, she knows that if Elena figures this out, she’ll use it against Steph. Grace, awkward and obsessed with monster movies, pines over Calvin, convinced he’ll never notice her. And Calvin sits and draws and draws. Because something terrible will happen if he stops…

And then there’s Mary. A friendly newcomer to the school, she takes a shine to Steph. Steph wonders if this is just friendship, or possibly something more. Especially since Steph has seen Mary before. In that mirror where her soulmate appeared. Unfortunately, Calvin also recognized her. In the mirror when he had a vision of death.

MPAA Rating: PG (frightening scenes)

To be honest, this could be a middle grade novel, with the very young high schoolers and their first romances. Steph’s growing realization that she’s a lesbian is less about sexuality and more about identity. Who can she trust? How open does she dare be with Mary? Will her friends understand? Will her mother? Meanwhile, Grace is realizing that, believe it or not, sometimes the artsy guys go for the quiet, awkward geek girls.

This is a supernatural book, with spirits and disembodied voices, etc. It reminds me of the very legend the book is based on: the malevolent monsters are in your face and over the top. That wouldn’t work in an adult book, or an ‘issues’ book for teens. But this is a nice, cozy mystery, a fun read when you can’t sleep (and maybe don’t want to).

Talky Talk: Bloody Mary

We’ve all tried those sleepover dares, such as Bloody Mary, or walk through the creepy forest at night, or cut off your own pinkies to appease the demon that’s been tormenting you. But they were just party games, right? It’s not like you would ever really call forth ye eldritch horror. And if something like that showed up, you’d leave it to the Van Helsings, the Buffys, the Venkmans of the world, not a bunch of fourteen year olds who can’t even get along.

These four–or five, the jury is still out on Mary’s humanity–kids are the only ones who know what they’ve awakened. Unfortunately, they don’t have a clue how to get rid of it. And if they are to defeat this thing, it’s going to be hard. They’re going to have to learn to cooperate.

I liked this book’s heart. A bunch of fourteen year olds would eventually face down a demon, but they’d still worry about boyfriends, popularity, and who likes who. It added a dash of realism to an otherwise outrageous book.

Bonus Factor: I See Dead People

Human skull

So Calvin kind of obsessively draws in his notebook. Rather disturbing pictures. But the thing is, he doesn’t want to draw. He must. You see, Calvin sees things. Horrible versions of his friends and acquaintances being badly injured and killed. But if he draws these scenes in all their gore, then the accidents are much less serious. Instead of Grace having her nose broken by an errant volleyball, it barely glances off of her. Instead of Elana’s boyfriend dying in a car wreck, he just breaks his arm. But he can’t draw constantly. One of these days he’s going to slip up. And why does he feel he must draw Mary morphing into the mirror monster?

Relationship Status: The Old Gang

This book reminded me of the best kind of middle school read: monsters are real, the heroes are kids, and friendship lasts forever.

Literary Matchmaking

The Devil Makes Three

Another book about teens trying to destroy a monster that comes out of a haunted object.

Summoned

We warned you about messing with the black arts, but did you listen?

FTC Full Disclosure: I received not one, but two copies of this book from the publisher. No money or tickets to the Monster’s Ball, however.

Categories:
Tags:

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.