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Book Review

Book Cover

Frozen Charlotte


Author: Alex Bell
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
RRP: £6.99
ISBN: 978 1 84715 453 8
Publication Date: 05 January 2015

Never play with an Ouija board. Advice which Sophie and her close friend Jay ignore when Jay downloads an app for his phone, precipitating strange events in the cafe. On the way home Jay is killed and a distraught Sophie travels to the north of Scotland to spend time with her relatives. When she arrives it is soon evident that something is very wrong in the house...

Frozen Charlotte (2015. 343 Pages) is the first in a series of young adult horror series from publishers Red Eye. Each will have a different author, and this particular one is penned by Alex Bell.

Initially I did have some issues with the novel. Having survived the trauma of Jay’s death, Sophie is sent off to a remote highland island, to visit relatives, while her parents are abroad. Here she meets a decidedly strange set of people. They have also suffered bereavement, although some time ago, when their daughter, Rebecca, was found dead and frozen at the bottom of a cliff.

This event did the families stability no good, with the mother being committed to a mental institution. The youngest child, Lilias, says she can see dead people and is tormented by dolls, which pails into insignificance when Sophie discovers that Lilias so hates her own skeleton that she once tried to cut it out of her body.

The older children are not much better. Cameron is distant and moody, once a musical prodigy, he now refuses to pursue this gift following a serious burn to his hand. He also engages in open displays of violence towards his sister, Piper, who seems friendly and the most balanced of the lot.

My problem with this is why Sophie didn’t run screaming to the ferry when presented with this bunch? Of course, there would be no book, but more than this it made me think about the types of shows I used to watch as a young adult. Some of it was really creepy, but regardless of the situation the hero or heroine always stayed to solve the puzzle or uncover the secret, so Sophie’s reaction is not out of place in young adult literature.

We view the disturbing events as they unfold from Sophie’s point of view, except for the prologue, which takes us back to 1910, when the house was still a school for girls. Here we are introduced to the frozen Charlottes for the first time. Personally, I thought this a mistake as the author pretty much states that the creepy dolls are evil and dangerous, thereby removing some of the mystery when Sophie first encounters them. This also goes some way to spoiling the mystery about the events which unfold.

When things finally come to a head, as they are oft to do in horror stories, I thought the last few chapters of the book were a masterful display of how to bring out all the tension and secrets in the book in a tense and exciting sequence.

For those worried about a suitable age range for the book, well its more creepy than horrific, there is violence but it’s quite muted. An older audience may find issue with the level of language which is kept deliberately simple. Characterisation and development is fine, but the book does lack a certain level of description which would have made the whole thing creepier, but then it might have been unsuitable for a young adult audience.

In the end I liked the book as it reminded me very much of the books and television shows I used to watch at a similar age.


Charles Packer

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