‘Young Charlotte lived by the mountainside, In a lonely, dreary spot; No other dwelling for three miles round, Except her father’s cot. And yet on many a winter’s eve, Young swains would gather there, For her father kept a social abode, And she was very fair.’
Following the death of her mother in a terrible fire, Jemima flees to the remote Isle of Skye, to take up a job at a school for girls. There she finds herself tormented by the mystery of what really happened that night.
Then Jemima receives a box of Frozen Charlotte dolls from a mystery sender and she begins to remember – a séance with the dolls, a violent argument with her step-father and the inferno that destroyed their home. And when it seems that the dolls are triggering a series of accidents at the school, Jemima realizes she must stop the demonic spirits possessing the dolls – whatever it takes.
*blurb from goodreads.com
- Pages – 352
- Author – Alex Bell
- Published – September 7th 2017
- Rating – 4.5/5
- Genres – Young Adult, Horror, Thriller, Historical Fiction
So this book is actually the pre-quel to ‘Frozen Charlotte’, however I had read online that it doesn’t matter which book you choose to read first. I was seriously impressed with this book, this is the first YA horror I have read and has made me inquisitive to try more.
‘The mother to her daughter said, “These blankets round you fold; For it is a dreadful night, you know, You’ll catch your death of cold.” “Oh, no! Oh, no!” the darling cried, She laughed like a gypsy queen, “For to ride in blankets muffled up, I never could be seen.’
The Frozen Charlotte dolls originally were made to match the ‘Young/Fair Charlotte’ ballad, which is about a girl called Charlotte who refused to wear a blanket while on a sleigh date with a man called Charles. Thus, the cold eventually caused Charlotte to freeze to death. Creepy.
I really enjoyed this. The book itself was well written, cliffhangers at the end of chapters kept you interested and it was very difficult to put the book down. Alex Bell does a great job of making you squirm in your seat, which is exactly what you need from a horror. The school and head teacher, Mrs Grayson, reminded me of the film ‘Matilda’, with all the children working together, until Charlotte comes into the equation. Children and creepy dolls are the perfect mix for horror.
The romance elements are pretty well balanced for me. Henri was a nice, charming character, which was a contrast from all the miserable, evil characters that are everywhere within this school. The romantic relationship between Jemima and Henri is not very complex, which helps the plot be at the foreground of this book.
The ending of the book made me wonder what was going to happen to Jemima as she grows old. But you don’t actually get to find out. Which was disappointing, although I hate not knowing things, which is why cliffhangers bring me to read books til 4am. But I really liked Jemima, she stood up for what was right and wanted to protect those around her. The chapter transitions between her past/the present gave the perfect mix to understand her better, and the past is pretty brutal.
I normally really struggle to read books that are in the 20th century, so I was a little bit concerned to open the front page to exactly that. But I was pleasantly surprised. I haven’t read anymore books by Alex Bell, bar ‘Frozen Charlotte’. But reading her work has made me want to go out and collect every single book she has written.
‘He stripped the mantle off her brow, And the pale stars on her shone, And quickly into the lighted hall, Her helpless form was born. They tried all within their power, Her life for to restore, But Charlotte was a frozen corpse, And is never to speak more.’
Important note, if I had read ‘Frozen Charlotte’ first, I would have known what happens to the girls in the school, so I would actually recommend anybody to read the pre-quel first. If anyone has read this please let me know what you think!