What’s it all about?:
We’re waiting for you to come and play. Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind…Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lilias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there. The girl that died.
What did I think?:
First of all, many thanks to Stripes Publishing for letting me read a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. It’s definitely true to say that I’m a big fan of Alex Bell’s writing and I was eagerly anticipating her new novel which is her first YA horror outing to see how it would compare. Well, I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. Frozen Charlotte takes you on a roller-coaster of a ride which is gripping, exciting and more than a little creepy – especially if the idea of dolls coming to life sends a shiver down your spine. The author begins with a terrifying prologue that gives the reader a bit of background on some dolls that were played with (and who “played” with the girls) many years ago. Today, the school is closed and has been re-built into a beautiful family home. Although the girls and teachers have long gone, the dolls have remained close by…waiting for that perfect owner to do their bidding.
Present day and we are introduced to our main character Sophie and her best friend Jay who, while messing around one day, decide to try and contact Sophie’s cousin Rebecca who died in a house fire via a ouija board app on Jay’s phone. It’s all fun and games until things start getting a bit too close to the bone and something terrible happens. It is a life changing event that haunts Sophie completely and when she is offered the opportunity to go and stay with her uncle and cousins (same family as her deceased cousin Rebecca) she jumps at the chance to exorcise the demon she feels that she has unleashed.
Sophie arrives on the beautiful and remote island of Skye and is welcomed warmly and not so warmly by her relatives – Uncle James and her cousins Piper, Cameron and Lilias. It is obvious that the death of their daughter/sister has affected the family immensely, Uncle James although friendly is slightly off-hand and quiet, Cameron has scars on his hand afflicted by the same fire that killed his sister and little Lilias has severe psychological issues and is terrified of bones – to the extent that she has tried to cut out her own skeleton. Piper seems to be the only cousin that welcomes Sophie so genuinely and is clearly attempting to move on after the tragedy.
But even the beauty of the island and her uncles stunning house cannot disguise that there is something rotten festering within. In Rebecca’s room, numerous dolls known as “frozen charlottes,” are locked away in a glass cupboard and Sophie immediately feels the intensity of their eerie stare. Before long, strange noises fill the old property – whisperings, fingers scraping and tapping, beings that are perhaps other-wordly and longing to be free once more. Is there anyone Sophie can turn to for help? Should she be afraid of the dolls or…something else?
Alex Bell really manages to bring a story (and dolls) to life with a beautiful way of setting a scene that transports the reader directly within it. I especially loved the ballad of Young Charlotte which the author used verse by verse through the chapters of the novel giving it an atmospheric and frightening feeling. It’s definitely a page turner and the mixture of more quiet scenes with those of excitement and terror made it difficult to put down. The characters are all intriguing in their own way but I really felt deeply for the youngest cousin, Lilias whose disturbed nature was obviously brought on by the death of her sister and it made me feel very protective towards her. Finally, the ending. Alex Bells ramps up the action another notch just when you think it isn’t possible and it was absolutely thrilling. This is a fantastic YA horror novel and sits very comfortably among others in the genre. If you’re looking for an exciting new voice in young adult fiction, ladies and gentleman may I introduce Alex Bell?
Come back tomorrow to read my interview with Alex Bell where she answers the question we’re all dying to know the answer to…. does she dog-ear her books?!
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):