Book Review: Charlotte Says (Alex Bell)

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Pages: 352

Release Date: September 7th 2017

Summary (From Goodreads):

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.

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Book Review: The Haunting (Alex Bell)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Pages: 352

Release Date: February 11th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Some curses grow stronger with time…
People say that all Cornish inns are haunted, but the Waterwitch’s history is particularly chilling. Built from the salvaged timber of a cursed ship, the guest house’s dark secrets go further back than anyone can remember.
Emma is permanently confined to a wheelchair after an accident at the Waterwitch which took place when she was ten. Seven years later, she decides to return to the place where the awful event occurred. But the ancient inn still has its ghosts, and one particular spirit is more vengeful than ever…

Review:

The first book I read in the Red Eye series was Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell and I completely loved it. It’s been by far the best in the series so I was really excited when I found out she was writing another one for them.

I found The Haunting a little slower than Frozen Charlotte, and definitely not as creepy. It’s probably unfair to compare the two so much, as they are different books (plus Frozen Charlotte had me unbelievably spooked) but I suppose it’s inevitable to do so when it’s a book in the same series, and by the same author.

I enjoyed seeing this book from different perspectives – Emma, who has been hurt by the Waterwitch’s curse before, Jem who doesn’t believe in witches or curses, and Shell, a witch herself who sees a lot more than everyone else, even if they don’t always believe her.

Despite the book being fairly evenly split between the three, I thought of Emma as the main protagonist, probably because we started the story with her. I loved her relationship with Bailey, her disability assistance dog, I was kind of dreading something bad happening to him the whole story (I won’t say whether it does or not – not spoilers here!) It was clear how much she loved and relied on him, and how much she would struggle, physically and emotionally if something were to happen to him. I think her being in a wheelchair added a real vulnerability to her character – she couldn’t just go upstairs to investigate strange noises, or run away when something frightened her, and that made for some tense reading.

I think the climax worked really well, but my one gripe was how definite it was – throughout the book I enjoyed Shell as a bit of an unreliable narrator. Sure, she thinks she’s seeing all these creepy things, but if no one else is then how do you know for sure? The ending made it very clear whether what she saw was real or not (again, no spoilers) but I think a bit of ambiguity would have added to the creepiness of the book.

Overall, another good read from Alex Bell and the Red Eye series, and a great way to kick off my 2016 reading (and one to add to my Horror Reading Challenge list)

4

If you enjoyed this, you might like Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough

Book Review: Frozen Charlotte (Alex Bell)

 

Details:

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Pages: 368

Release Date: 5th January 2015

Summary (From Goodreads):

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.

Review:

I read this book in two sittings and absolutely loved it. It draws you in with a creepy prologue that sets up the events perfectly and then launches straight into the story: there’s no hanging around here, it’s pretty much suspense and weird happenings all the way through and it’s perfect.Sophie was a perfect narrator to guide you through the story. Her reactions to the events were very realistic, which I think can be hard to do when writing a modern ghost story. It’s so easy to be skeptical of events and a narrator who believed them too quickly would be jarring, but Sophie had just the right amount of denial and then slow realisation of the reality of her situation.

I loved each of the cousins for their unique characterisation and really enjoyed not knowing who to trust. I found Piper a little flat at first: she seemed to be a bit of writer’s convenience at first as she explained a lot of back story and mythology but she soon fleshed out and became one of my favourite characters.

And then the Frozen Charlotte dolls themselves. They are creepy as hell and the fact that they’re real made them all the more spooky. I love the idea of the author turning the old song and Victorian dolls into this wonderfully scary story. They were amazing villains and I actually felt afraid to leave my room when I finished reading late at night. I could almost feel their tiny cold hands on me and I was terrified of what they’d do to me in my sleep.

I’d thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys horror stories or is looking to try something a little different. It’s a thrilling journey with a fast pace and a lot of twists that will keep you guessing right until the end. Just don’t read it in an empty house in the dark as I did!

My Verdict:

Copy of an art exhibit

If you liked this, you might also enjoy The Haunting of Sunshine Girl