Charlotte Says by Alex Bell #YA #Horror #BookReview

icon-bookreview

charlottesaysTitle: Charlotte Says
Author: Alex Bell
Series: Frozen Charlotte #2 (prequel)
Format: Digital ARC, 352 pages
Publication Details: September 7th 2017 by Stripes Publishing (Red Eye)
Genre(s): Horror; YA
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free, advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

The much-anticipated prequel to the bestselling FROZEN CHARLOTTE, a Zoella Book Club title in Autumn 2016.


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.

Review

Charlotte Says was a highly-anticipated read for me because I loved Frozen Charlotte, which was my introduction to the Red Eye series of YA Horror books. This one is a prequel to the first book. It’s basically the origin story for the events that occur in Frozen Charlotte, so you definitely don’t have to have read that one to enjoy this.

Here, we go back to Victorian times where we meet Jemima, a girl of sixteen, but of course considered an adult at that time. After an evidently troubled and mysterious past, Jemima accepts a teaching job at a boarding school for the destitute and wayward.

At first things appear to be OK (don’t they always?). Jemima is reunited with an old friend, and the girls seem to warm to her quickly, but the Schoolmistress, Miss Grayson is nothing if not an evil old wench who causes Jemima no end of grief from day one.

And then the dolls arrive. Followed closely by a dolls house. Jemima isn’t too happy to see them as they come from her previous home where, let’s just say, bad things happened, but because the girls have so little Jemima donates them to the school.

Then the madness ensues!

I’m not sure how much I liked this book. It had a lot more depth to it than its predecessor, but it was also a lot less fun, and a lot less scary. There were some great horror elements in there, along with some creepy moments, but I felt like it was lacking something. It didn’t have the impact that FC did, and I found that a bit disappointing.

I can’t fault Alex Bell’s ambition though, or her writing. I loved the setting and the slow reveal of Jemima’s past, but I felt the pace was too slow overall, and it just didn’t have the creep-factor of the first book.

I’m still excited about what this author does next though, she’s one to watch!

unicorn rating 3

 

Flash Fiction Battle: I now crown you… #HorrorOctober

ho-ffb

Welcome back to Horror October 2016’s main event: The Flash Fiction Battle

 

At the beginning of the month, you voted in your masses for your favourite horror story prompt, and the winner was ‘3 AM. Full Dark. One Sound’

Four wonderfully creepy stories were entered by the participating writers and over 1300 votes were cast for your favourite. 

And, finally the results are in…

In 4th place: Wake Up Mommy by A. Giacomi (102 votes)

In 3rd place: The Quiet Life by Stephen Kozeniewski (170 votes)

In 2nd place: The Secret of the Basement by Lily Luchesi (347 votes)

And in 1st place….

 

Come in Here by Stevie Kopas (714 votes)

queenofhorroroct2016

 

A huge thank you to all four writers, and congratulations to Stevie! Thanks also go to everyone who voted and to Cleo, Lynn and Drew for helping me to promote – 1300 votes is amazing!

Here is your winning story again…Happy Halloween!

Come in Here

By Stevie Kopas

Sorry I’m late,” Jill whispered as she crept through the front door, locking it behind her.

It was just past Midnight and she hoped the baby was already sleeping and that her sister wasn’t angry with her for not arriving home on time, but Maddie was curled up on the couch with a book as usual and smiled when Jill entered the living room.

How was work?” Maddie asked, marking her page with a bookmark and hopping to her feet, stretching.

Awful,” Jill sighed. “If I could actually leave when I was scheduled for once I might come home with a better answer. How’s my little bear?”

Oh he’s great, been sleeping like a baby.” Maddie made a face and laughed. “Well, I mean, he is a baby, but you get what I mean.”

Jill chuckled and walked her sister to the door, giving her a big hug before sending her on her way. She was halfway up the stairs to check on baby Louis when her phone blared from her purse in the living room.

Shit,” she cursed under her breath, praying that the noise didn’t wake the baby.

She fished the iPhone from her bag and quickly silenced it, looking at the screen.

Unknown Caller.

She frowned, but answered anyway, curious as to who could be calling at this hour.

Hello?”

She was greeted by loud static on the other end and repeated her greeting only to receive child-like laughter in response.

Maddie? Is that you?” She asked, but the call immediately disconnected.

Shrugging, Jill put the phone on vibrate and slipped it into her pocket. She started back for the stairs when it began to buzz.

Seriously?” She pulled it from her pocket and rolled her eyes when she saw that it was an unknown caller again. She swiped and answered, trekking up the stairs. “Maddie, this isn’t funny.” The same static greeted her followed by a child giggling; she rolled her eyes. “I hope your parents find out what you’re doing and ground you!”

She hung up and stuffed the phone into her pocket once more before heading for baby Louis’ room. Her little bundle of joy was snuggled up and sound asleep. She smiled and leaned into the crib, gently touching his tiny hand.

Good night, my angel. Mommy loves you.” Jill whispered.

She checked that the baby monitor was on and working before heading for her bedroom.

She changed into some sweatpants and before she could even get her oversized t-shirt over her head, her iPhone buzzed in her jeans on the floor. She let out an exasperated sigh and answered without even looking at who was calling.

Listen up, you little shit—“ Jill started.

Come back in here and play with me.” The little girl on the other end said.

What?” A slight chill ran down Jill’s spine.

The little girl giggled. “I want to play. Come back.”

She rolled her eyes and scolded herself for letting it freak her out. “Go to bed, brat. I’m done playing for the night.”

She hung up and shut the phone completely off, she’d have to set the alarm on the clock for once.

***

Jill rolled over and squinted at the clock: 2:57. She groaned and sat up, she could have sworn she shut the phone off before she went to bed. As her eyes adjusted, she could see the screen read Unknown Caller. Jill tried to decline the call but her screen wouldn’t swipe. She hit the power button on the side, but again, the phone wouldn’t respond. In a huff, she threw the covers off and went with her only option: answering it.

What!” She yelled into the phone.

Come in here,” the little girl whispered through heavy static. “Come in here and play with me.”

For the last time… Go. To. Bed.”

Furious, Jill made sure the phone was off. She got up and put the iPhone in a pile of clothes in the closet just in case there was something wrong with it and the little brat kept prank calling her. Just as she was getting back into bed, Jill froze; there was static coming from the baby monitor.

She stared at it for a moment, straining her ears for more sound, but there was nothing. She thought about checking on Louis, but he wasn’t crying and she desperately needed the sleep. Settling back into bed, she had just closed her eyes when the static came through the monitor again, this time, child’s laughter followed. Her eyes shot open and her skin broke out in goose bumps. She glanced at the clock before jumping out of bed: 3:00.

With the baby monitor in hand, she crept toward her bedroom door and again she heard the laughter. There was no denying it this time, it was the same laugh she’d heard on the phone.

Come in here and play with me,” the little girl said.

Jill panicked and the baby monitor fell from her hands, the static screeching from it, louder now. She sprinted from her bedroom and made a beeline for Louis’ door. She charged through and turned on the light, expecting to find someone trying to hurt her baby, but the room was empty, and Louis remained fast asleep in his crib. She checked on her son, making sure he was okay, her heartrate slowly returning to normal. She cursed herself for being so paranoid, she figured whoever had been calling her had somehow hacked into the baby monitor. She would go to the police tomorrow.

As Jill turned to leave the room, the door suddenly slammed shut and her hands flew up to her mouth. She stifled a scream as she read what was written in blood on the opposite wall just before the lights in the room went out:

I knew I could get you back in here.

Stevie can be found here: http://www.someonereadthis.com/ // @ApacoTaco 

Flash Fiction Battle: Last Chance to Vote! #HorrorOctober

ho-ffb

A friendly reminder…Voting for the Flash Fiction Battle ends tomorrow!

 

Votes will stop being counted at 20:00 GMT tomorrow (Friday 28th). So, if your favourite short horror story isn’t winning you’d better pull your finger out (yes you can vote more than once), but with over 1200 votes cast already…can you change the fate of the participating writers? Only time will tell. 

The winner will be announced on Saturday 29th at 09:00 (GMT)

Here’s the poll again for you last minute voters!

Horror Films That Still Scare Me #2: The Stephen King Edition #HorrorOctober

HorrorOct2015

Over the next few weeks I’m going to share my favourite ‘still scary’ horror films. You can read my first post here.

Stephen King’s It (1990)

IT movie cover

Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Writers: Stephen King (novel), Lawrence D. Cohen (teleplay)
Cast: Richard Thomas, Tim Reid, Annette O’Toole, Tim Curry

“In 1960, seven outcast kids known as “The Loser Club” fight an evil demon who poses as a child-killing clown. 30 years later, they are called back to fight the same clown again.”

I’m not sure if my fear of clowns came before, during, or after watching It, but I’m pretty sure I’ll always be scared of them. Pennywise, played by the amazing Tim Curry is definitely the scariest clown I’ve ever encountered…I just can’t even.

Stephen-King-s-It-stephen-kings-it-20711159-1000-1331

I also wonder if my fear of balloons has something to do with this film (I always forget it was originally a two-part mini-series) too…it really wouldn’t surprise me. I mean, I can look at a balloon, but if someone throws one at me, or I have to touch one, it really freaks me out. UGH.

Pet Sematary (1989)

petsem
Director: Mary Lambert
Writers: Stephen King (novel & screenplay)
Cast: Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Fred Gwynne…

“Behind a young family’s home in Maine is a terrible secret that holds the power of life after death. When tragedy strikes, the threat of that power soon becomes undeniable.”

I think this film scares me more now than it did when I was young. There’s only really one thing in the film that catapults Pet Sematary into my Scary Hall of Fame and that’s this…

It’s not always the first film I think of when I think of evil creepy-ass kids, but Gage is definitely the most terrifying part of Pet Sematary. Damien’s got nothing on him!

The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R Carey

girlwith
Title: The Girl with all the Gifts
Author: M.R Carey
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 460 pages
Publication Details: June 19th 2014 by Orbit
Genre(s): Horror; Science Fiction
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from Dora. Thanks Dora!

Goodreads // Purchase

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.” Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh. The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

Review

***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS***

The Girl with all the Gifts has everything. It’s a great mixture of classic horror, modern dystopia and fast-paced thriller.

I was worried that I’d ruined my experience of it having already read reviews and knowing what the ‘twist’ was, but I don’t think it hindered it at all. Plus, said twist is revealed pretty early on, so it’s not such a huge spoiler.

I was completely engrossed in Melanie’s story, and thought she was a great protagonist. In the beginning I felt sorry for her, being locked up, and the way her and the other children were treated. I think M.R Carey did a great job of bringing Melanie to life as a regular (albeit genius) child, and gradually revealing to the reader, and to Melanie herself that she is in fact a monster – a zombie to be exact.

The use of the school-room setting, Melanie’s genius-like intelligence and her love of stories enables the reader to see her as child first, and a zombie second, making it almost impossible not to root for her the whole way through.

I thought the relationship between her and teacher was kind of creepy at first, as I’m sure was supposed to be point, but they ended up being a great duo.

There were a few moments when I found myself losing interest, but I was quickly pulled back into this action-packed, rollercoaster of a ride. It’s one of the better zombie books I’ve read, and felt fresh and thought-provoking.

Having just started working in a prison, I read this book on another level too. The Girl With all the Gifts raised a lot of questions about imprisonment and human rights. I felt like it proposed many questions about incarceration, rehabilitation, having the mental strength to fight against your inner nature, and being able to embrace your future and let go of the past.

It was a really surprising read, one that I think would make a great book club selection.

unicorn rating 4

Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie

sufferFrom an acclaimed horror writer, a chilling tale of blood-hungry children who rise from the dead in this innovative spin on apocalyptic vampire fiction.

Suffer the Children presents a terrifying tale of apocalyptic fiction, as readers are introduced to Herod’s Syndrome, a devastating illness that suddenly and swiftly kills all young children across the globe. Soon, they return from the grave…and ask for blood. And with blood, they stop being dead. They continue to remain the children they once were…but only for a short time, as they need more blood to live. The average human body holds ten pints of blood, so the inevitable question for parents everywhere becomes: How far would you go to bring your child back?

Suffer the Children, as the title and cover suggests, is a pretty creepy read. Let’s face it kids can be creepy, anyone who has ever seen a horror film or read a Stephen King novel can tell you that. So that’s pretty much everyone, right? Kids coming back from the dead and craving blood…totally up there on the creep-factor, so naturally I knew I was going to enjoy this book.

I wasn’t disappointed! I absolutely loved the beginning of this book. The plot was quite slow, but it was all about the characterisation for me so it didn’t drag at all. DiLouie’s style very much reminded me of King in that way. The writing was engaging and it was a pretty quick read.

Suffer the Children follows several eclectic families from the days that lead up to ‘the event’ where every single pre-pubescent kid in the world just falls down dead. There’s a lot of grief, obviously, and horrific but necessary actions that follow, such as bin men having to collect the bodies, and dig mass graves. And from there, it just gets worse…because they come back!

One of main things I liked about this book was the underlying irony of it. You’d probably think there’d be nothing worse than burying your child, but then you find out that they’re all coming back to life and you have go and dig them up. As a doctor you’d think doing some autopsies on the deceased kids would be for the greater good, until you realise that they weren’t actually dead until you cut through the rib cages and removed their hearts.

It doesn’t take long to figure out that these families would have been better off if the children didn’t come back to life, because keeping them alive is going to destroy them and the world as they know it. But other than that, and the whole philosophical look at how far would you go to keep your children alive there wasn’t a great deal to this book.

If push came to shove, she’d let her kids eat her.”

Although it was enjoyable, unfortunately there was nothing surprising about Suffer the Children; I found it a bit predictable. I felt like the greater story to tell would be the one of what happened after the events in this book (maybe they’ll be a sequel, who knows). I also think DiLouie missed out on some great horror moments, such as hearing about one of the protagonists killing his dog to feed to his son almost as if in passing rather than finding out about it at the time. I wanted more gory details! But I’m weird like that.

If you like your horror with a message instead of gory details then I definitely recommend you give this a try!

Favourite Quote: “It struck her then, that in most of the world there wasn’t a single human being who believed in Santa Claus”

unicorn rating 3

Disclosure?: I received a copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an HONEST review
Title: Suffer the Children
Author: Craig DiLouie
Details: Paperback, 352 pages
Published: May 20th 2014 by Permuted Press
My Rating: 3/5