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Review 73: Scary Mary by S.A. Hunter

Scary Mary
by S. A. Hunter
Copyright © 2008
$ 10.96 Paperback
Available as an online novel (free)
144 pages
ISBN: 9781847289247

Reviewed by LK Gardner-Griffie, Author of Misfit McCabe

I fell in love with Mary Hellick on page one and nothing through the course of the book caused me to change my mind. Mary is a prickly teenager who is an outcast at her school. Shunned by most of the students who taunt her and generally make life hell for her, Mary tries to keep to herself and not draw any attention to herself, but sometimes strikes back. This means that Mary has regular sessions with the guidance counselor, Mr. Landa. Mary is your typical awkward, rebellious teenager, with one exception. Mary is also clairaudient, which means that she can hear the dead, and that tends to complicate her life.

We meet Mary on the first day of Mary’s junior year in high school on her way to Mr. Landa’s office.

Mr. Landa greeted her with an already weary smile. “Welcome back, Mary.”
Mary put her fist on her hip. “Who gets called to the guidance office on the first day of freaking school?”

I love a character with attitude and Mary has it in spades. Orphaned, Mary lives with her maternal grandmother who is a fortune teller/psychic. Mary fiercely loves her grandmother and looks to her as the only person in her life who understands Mary’s abilities. Her grandmother is teaching her to live with the abilities that she would rather not have, as well as teaching her the responsibility that comes along with such a gift. Mary deals with prejudice against her on a daily basis because she is different.

S. A. Hunter brilliantly takes us into Mary’s mind. We see things from her unique perspective throughout the book. I found myself chuckling over some of Mary’s thoughts. Hunter has truly captured the teenage mind and how it reacts when not believed by adults.

She clenched her fists to keep herself in check. It wouldn’t do to get emotional. He would only make a note in her file. “It did happen. Just like everything else I’ve ever told you.”–Except for the cavorting with demons, the abduction by little green men, and the Elvis sighting. Mary told Mr. Landa outrageous things because he insisted she tell him something. She’d tried to tell him the truth at first, but like now, he always refused to believe her. She wished she hadn’t tried to tell him something truthful now.

On the first day of school, Mary meets new student, Cyrus Asher, who is someone that Mary dismisses as being a “Shiny” person. Someone who will be in the in-crowd, who will hang out with only the best people in school. To her surprise, Cyrus seems to seek her out and want to hang out with her, even though the queen of the campus, Vicky wants to get her hooks into him. Mary tries rebuffing him at first, figuring that once he hears the stories about her, that he will soon leave her alone. But, the stories don’t seem to bother him and he genuinely enjoys her company. She finds that she enjoys his company as well, because he has a quick wit and can poke fun at all of the people who try to belittle Mary.

Add into the story, Rachel, a best friend who thinks Mary’s quirks are cool and thrives on being an outcast. Everything is going along better than Mary expected for the school year until Cyrus asks her to come over to his house. She suffered the usual angst of not knowing whether this was an actual date or not, and when she arrives, she finds out that his parents aren’t home. But, things still were going along pretty well until Ricky, the ghost haunting Cyrus’s house shows up and starts talking to Mary. It is an understatement to say that Ricky is not a benevolent ghost. Things go from ok, to bad to worse, and continue to spiral out of control until Mary determines that she will need to rid Cyrus’s house of Ricky, and this might be a little difficult since Cyrus was mad at her and no longer her friend. Mary had scared him, and thought that she had done it on purpose.

In Scary Mary, S. A. Hunter’s characters jump off the page and into life. You are pulled into the story from page one, much like Ricky trying to pull Mary through the basement window (you’ll just have to read the book to find out why). With each turn of the page, the situation escalates through the exciting conclusion. I am very glad to see that S. A. Hunter is working on another book with Mary Hellick, called Stalking Shadows, and can’t wait until she has completed it. After reading Scary Mary, I can add S. A. Hunter to my list of favorite young adult authors.

3 Responses to “Review 73: Scary Mary by S.A. Hunter”

  1. Excellent review! I may have to buy this book for my 17 year old niece!

  2. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone back to re-read the review since writing it to make sure that I had expressed my enjoyment of this book strongly enough. Short of adding, excellent, excellent, excellent, or giving away too much of the story, I decided to leave as is. I also plan to buy a copy for my niece (and one for myself) because I think she’ll enjoy it. Scary Mary is a shining example of self-publishing and I wish S. A. Hunter the best of success with this series.

  3. LK Gardner-Griffie, thank you so much for this wonderful review! I am going to keep it close to my heart and refer to it when I need a boost.

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