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Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell - Review

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

I'm not going to use my normal questions for this book review, even though it's a Young Adult novel, because it is a horror novel and has a very claustrophobic setting. There isn't a huge cast of characters so I think this format is better.

I bought the book on Kindle when I saw people raving about it a couple of years ago, but I hadn't got round to reading it. Then I was browsing my Kindle and thought, oh yes I'll get to that next.

The book starts where Sophie, the heroine, and her friend Jay are in a diner in their hometown when they decide to play with a ouija board app on Jay's phone. They think it's a bit of fun, but Sophie asks if the spirit is her dead cousin Rebecca and the board says yes. The board then starts to recite a poem, Frozen Charlotte, and then all the lights in the diner go off and Sophie sees a little girl standing on a table and feels something cold holding her hand. When the light go back on, a waitress has been injured. The friends leave the diner to make their way home, only Jay dies in the canal on the way and Sophie is left upset.

A few weeks (I think) later, Sophie is heading to the Isle of Skye to stay with her uncle and cousins, Rebecca's siblings. There's her uncle, who kind of keeps to himself painting; Cameron, who Sophie remembers from being little, who has had his hand badly burnt in a fire before Rebecca died; Piper, Rebecca's sister, who Sophie also remembers, and little Lilias, who was born after Rebecca died so never knew her. Their mother is in hospital so the three siblings are basically looking after each other. To begin with, Piper seems really friendly, and Cameron seems to resent Sophie being there. Lilias is quiet and withdrawn and never smiles.

Sophie tries to explore the cottage, which is actually an old schoolhouse. The living room has a stage at one end where Cameron's prized grand piano lives. Upstairs, all the windows have been sealed shut with some kind of wax. In Rebecca's room there are tons of porcelain dolls. They are known as Frozen Charlottes, like in the poem, and they are broken and creepy. Weird things start happening and Sophie is trying desperately to find out whether the spirit of Rebecca is back and causing chaos.

There are really creepy bits in the book but I think it is appropriate for an audience aged about fifteen and older.

The book really reminded me of Your Turn To Die by Sue Wallman which I read last summer. They're both creepy and atmospheric and set in enclosed places which makes everyone act in ridiculous ways. I really liked it, I'm giving it eight out of ten!

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