Thursday, 12 February 2015

UKYA Review: Mary Hades by Sarah Dalton

Published by: Entangled Teen
Release date: 4th May 2014
Series:  Mary Hades #1

I got it from: Netgalley
Goodreads summary: 

Not many seventeen year old girls have a best friend who’s a ghost, but then Mary Hades isn’t your average teenager.

Scarred physically and mentally from a fire, her parents decide a holiday to an idyllic village in North Yorkshire will help her recover. Nestled in the middle of five moors, Mary expects to have a boring week stuck in a caravan with her parents. Little does she know, evil lurks in the campsite…

Seth Lockwood—a local fairground worker with a dark secret—might be the key to uncovering the murky history that has blighted Nettleby. But Mary is drawn to him in a way that has her questioning her judgement.

Helped by her dead best friend and a quirky gay Goth couple, Mary must stop the unusual deaths occurring in Nettleby. But can she prevent her heart from being broken?

The first in a series of dark YA novels, Mary Hades follows on from the bestselling Kindle Single 'My Daylight Monsters'. A spine-tingling tale with romance, readers will be shocked and entertained in equal measure.

My review:
It's a while since I've read a good ghost story, and I don't thing I've ever had the pleasure of reading a good YA Brit ghost story, so Mary Hades was a delight for me. Set on the windswept moors of North Yorkshire, it's full of atmosphere, spooky as you like and a real page turner. It's also refreshingly British - so good to have a really great addition to the UKYA family.

I don't like comparing books but I know some readers find it helpful, so I will say that this had a bit of a feel of Anna Dressed in Blood to it. Where there are ghosts there will always be comparisons to other books with ghosts, and I think Anna is a pretty good book to be compared to. Strong characters, whether they're corporeal or not; a twisty plot to keep those pages turning; and with healthy doses of both mystery and romance there's something to keep everyone happy. Mary Hades is deep, dark, eerie, mysterious and spine-tinglingly gorgeous - everything a great ghost story should be.

Mary is a wonderful heroine - she's been through a lot but has come out of the other side stronger for it. If you get a chance it's worth reading the novella My Daylight Monsters which is a prequel to Mary Hades, but it's not essential. Dalton does a fine job of explaining everything that's happened so far without any annoying info-dump. Mary is coming to terms with the fact that she can see not just ghosts, but freaky ghouls that seem to appear just before something terrible happens. They might be frightening and horrific but those monsters have saved Mary's life more than once, so she's learning to pay attention to them, despite the fact that they landed her in a mental ward not so long ago. So she's also learning to keep quiet about the things she sees. This includes her best friend Lacey, who happens to be a ghost. 

Mary might be the main character here, but for me it was Lacey who really made the book. She's a bit scary, a bit funny and very loyal - everything you should expect from a spectral best friend. She's not been dead long, and I really want to read the next book to see how she continues coping with her place in the afterlife. This looks to be the start of a very promising new series.  

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