Frozen Charlotte

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Author Interview – Alex Bell on her YA horror novel Frozen Charlotte

Published June 5, 2015 by bibliobeth


Alex Bell was born in 1986. She always wanted to be a writer but had several different back-up plans to ensure she didn’t end up in the poor house first. For some years these ranged from dolphin trainer to animal shelter vet but then, at fifteen, she had an epiphany involving John and Robert Kennedy and decided to become a lawyer instead.

To that end she eagerly started a Law Degree only to find it so boring that she was at a very real risk of going completely insane. To mitigate this she started writing again. The second book got her an agent with Carolyn Whitaker of London Independent Books but, unfortunately, not a publisher. The third book, written during her first summer holidays off from university, found a home with Gollancz. The Ninth Circle came out in April 2008 with possibly the most beautiful cover ever created (matched only by her second book, Jasmyn). Please click on the books to get the link to GoodReads!


Not one to learn from past experience, Alex started the Legal Practice Course in London. There she met some great people and had a lot of fun messing about during lessons that were clearly meant to be extremely solemn affairs. Thankfully, she dropped out just before the point where all students must submit to the personality-removing process that is a compulsory part of being an esteemed member of the legal profession.

Since then she has published novels and short stories for both adults and young adults.



After deciding to use her Law degree for good, instead of for evil, she also works as an advisor for the Citizens Advice Bureau. Most of her spare time consists of catering to the whims of her Siamese cat.

Now she happily dwells in an entirely make-believe world of blood, death, madness, murder and mayhem. The doctors have advised that it is best not to disturb her, for she appears to be happy there.

Interview with Alex Bell

I’d like to welcome Alex to bibliobeth today and thank her for her time in giving this interview!

1.) Frozen Charlotte involves some very sinister and persuasive dolls that give a whole new meaning to the term “playtime.” What things/objects scared the wits out of you when you were a teenager?
I’ve always thought there was something creepy about old dolls – and old toys in general. When I was a teenager I was also freaked out by weird old black and white photos of sombre Victorians. And clowns, obviously. Both those things still freak me out.

2.) At the beginning of the story our main character Sophie plays a ouija board with her friend, Jay. Did your research involve having to dabble with one of these yourself?
I messed around a little bit with a ouija board when I was a teenager but it was always during the day and in a public place so it was never too scary. I wouldn’t want to get too serious about a ouija board, though. Real or not, there are quite a few horrible stories about them.

(bibliobeth: “Most definitely! Never EVER play with a ouija board!”)

3.) Sophie goes to stay with her Uncle and cousins in the beautiful Scottish island of Skye. Her cousins aren’t exactly what she expected however. Which one of these characters did you find most fun to write?
That’s a hard one! I found them all fun to write in different ways. If I had to choose I’d probably say Lilias as she’s the one who’s the most outright strange. Cameron and Piper are better at hiding their strangeness.

4.) At the beginning of each chapter there are lines of verse from a ballad called Young Charlotte. How did this inspire you to write the novel?
The ballad had a big part in inspiring the novel. Before I stumbled across it I’d intended for the dolls in the story to be voodoo dolls. But then I found the Frozen Charlotte song and when I researched it and found that there were dolls based on the poem it basically made the rest of the book fall into place. It’s such a typically macabre Victorian song, and I loved being able to use it in the book.

5.) Are you working on anything at the moment and can you tell us a little bit about it?
I’m working on another YA horror novel at the moment. I can’t say much about it yet but watch this space!

(bibliobeth – “Ooh, I will be!”)

And now for some quick fire questions…

E book or real book?

Definitely real book. I don’t own a kindle and can’t imagine ever wanting one. I love the feel of a real book and seeing lots of full book shelves.

Series or stand alone?

Generally I prefer stand alones because I like to read as much variety as possible. There have been some fantastic series I’ve enjoyed too, though.

Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction. Although non-fiction comes in handy for research.

Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

I prefer the experience of going into a bookshop but I probably shop online more due to time constraints.

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Bookmarking. I like my books to have a well-read, well-loved look but I don’t want them to be unnecessarily tatty. As I do a lot of reading on planes, my bookmark is normally the boarding pass of the place I last travelled to.

Once again, a big thank you to Alex for her efforts in making this interview possible and I’m incredibly excited now for the next book.

Frozen Charlotte was published on 5th January 2015 by Stripes Publishing and is available from all good retailers NOW. Why not check out her back catalogue too? I highly recommend both The Ninth Circle and Jasmyn (adult fiction).

Frozen Charlotte – Alex Bell

Published June 4, 2015 by bibliobeth


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):