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 

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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

 

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Horror Films That Still Scare Me #1 #HorrorOctober

HorrorOct2015

I’ve been a fan of horror films since I can remember, from a way-too-early age, so I’ve seen more than my fair share.

The only problem with that, is that I’ve become desensitised to them, or maybe horror films just aren’t as scary as they used to be, because I can probably count on one hand the number of horror films that have scared me in the past 10 years. To be fair, it’s probably a bit of both!

Over the next few weeks I’m going to share my favourite horror films. The ones that scared me when I first saw them, and still scare me today…

Child’s Play (1988) & Child’s Play 2 (1990)

Director: Tom Holland/John Lafia
Writers: Don Mancini (story & screenplay)
Cast: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Jenny Agutter

“A single mother gives her son a much sought after doll for his birthday, only to discover that it is possessed by the soul of a serial killer.”

I was only four years old when the first film came out. I obviously didn’t watch it as soon as it was released, but I think it was probably only a few years after that.

Unfortunately, around that time, I had begged and begged for a Cricket doll, which was mega expensive at the time, and my parents had finally given in. I loved that doll for about a week. Until I watched Child’s Play, and then cried until my furious parents hid Cricket in the attic.

cricket

To this day I’m still wary of that attic (although they assure me the doll is long gone), and have remained creeped out by dolls.

So, when I feel like a good scare, Child’s Play (and Child’s Play 2) is a safe bet.

UP NEXT: IT!

Get Ready to Shudder: Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

frozencharlotte
Title: Frozen Charlotte
Author: Alex Bell
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 368 pages
Publication Details: January 5th 2015 by Stripes Publishing
Genre(s): Horror; YA
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

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

This book actually gave me nightmares (well, it gave me one – it was pretty awesome).

For starters, creepy-ass miniture porcelain dolls with their hands outstretched like they died reaching for you. Dolls that are everywhere, even in the walls. Dolls that whisper. Dolls with needles… But more about them later…I’m getting ahead of myself.

For the purpose of context, I’m a huge horror fan, especially as far as films are concerned, and I’m constantly disappointed that I never find any of them scary any more. I must be desensitised or something. To a certain extent, it’s the same for books, but I do find it easier to get creeped out by a good horror book than a film…and oh my, this book creeped me the hell out, so major props for that!

And it wasn’t just the creep-factor that was good about this book, I literally could not put it down. I was sneakily reading it at work and stayed up wayyy past my bed time to finish it off!

Frozen Charlotte is centred around Sophie and the events which follow her best friend Jay’s sudden death (it’s right at the beginning so hardly a spoiler). Jay downloaded a Ouiji Board app on his phone and he and Sophie play around with it, mocking it, like you do. But when Sophie calls on the only person she knows who has passed away – her cousin Rebecca – things go a bit weird to say the least.

To cut a long (not that long to be fair) story short, the app tells Jay he will die that very night…and of course, he actually does. Cue devastated Sophie trying to make sense of it all through the grief. And what better place to go than to an old converted schoolhouse on the blustering and foggy Isle of Skye.

It is her Uncle James’ home, and the whole family are clearly still suffering the loss of Rebecca. Everything about the place is wrong. From a parrot called Dark Tom who literally screams bloody murder all night long and young Lilias who has a phobia of bones (even her own), who once tried to cut out her collar bone, to Cameron, the musical protégé who got burned during the death of his sister and has never been the same again, and Piper who is trying to hold the whole thing together but is strangely obsessed with the Frozen Charlotte dolls.

I really wish I’d read this book for Horror October instead of Doll Bones. This was exactly the thing I was looking for. It was so good, and so creepy, at one point I had to put it down because I was shuddering so much internally. I couldn’t keep away for long though, I HAD to find out what the hell was going on!

The only tiny grumble I had with it, was that I couldn’t decide how old the characters were. It seemed inconsistent a lot of the time. Sometimes they seemed older than they should be, and then I’d get thrown by talk of first kisses and such, and visa versa. In the same way I couldn’t decide if Frozen Charlotte was aimed at the YA market or just had young characters. But you know what, who cares! It was great!

unicorn rating 4

Frozen Charlotte is available in paperback from Waterstones now.

Friendship is a Haunted Doll

HorrorOct2014

Doll Bones by Holly Black

doll

Title: Doll Bones
Author: Holly Black
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 256 pages
Publication Details: February 27th 2014 by Corgi Childrens
Genre(s): Children’s; Supernatural
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed a copy.

Goodreads
Purchase


My name is Eleanor Kerchner.

You can call me the Queen.

I died in 1895.

Now it’s time to play.

A chilling ghost story by the bestselling author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black.

Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .

I loved everything about this book in theory. Unfortunately in reality, it didn’t quite deliver.

Doll Bones is very much a book with a message, or rather multiple messages.

Zach’s often absent father is back in his life and decides that it’s time for Zach to grow up. He believes he’s too old to play with action figures and dolls, and should be playing basketball instead of hanging around with his two female best friends.

So, in a moment of madness, and without warning, Zach’s father throws away all his toys, ending Poppy, Alice and his ongoing game of make-believe. Whilst Zach is trying to come to terms with this Poppy believes an old china doll they call The Queen is possessed with the spirit of a girl who was murdered, sending them on a real life spooky adventure.

I’ve heard Holly Black talk about this book and the messages within it, so I should have known what to expect. But I was a little disappointed. I didn’t expect these messages to be so blatant and overbearing. I realise that Doll Bones is aimed at a sightly younger audience than the books I usually read, which could explain it, but I really wished the story had a bit more of an edge.

I feel like the cover art and the synopsis suggests that this book is a lot more spooky than it actually was. I mean, I’m terrified of china dolls, so the idea of a doll made out of the ground-up bones of a little girl, and possessed by her should have at least resulted in a slight shudder, but it just didn’t.

It was too nice.

I’m sure if I’d read this when I was nine I would have liked it a lot more, but I still think I would have wanted more of the creep-factor.

That being said, it was a really adorable story about the pressures of growing-up and how it can affect even the closest of friendships. I also thought it was written really beautifully, so all is not lost.

I definitely want to read Holly Black’s YA books. I’m certain they’d more to my taste.

unicorn rating 3

Doll Bones is available in hardback and paperback at Waterstones now.

New Find for Horror October: House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill

I saw this in the review section of The Guardian this morning and thought it sounded like a pretty promising Horror novel from a British author, which is nice. Taxidermy and dolls…ugh. Also, THE COVER! Creep-tastic!

18161866 Catherine’s last job ended badly. Corporate bullying at a top television production company saw her fired and forced to leave London, but she was determined to get her life back. A new job and now things look much brighter. Especially when a challenging new project presents itself — to catalogue the late M H Mason’s wildly eccentric cache of antique dolls and puppets. Rarest of all, she’ll get to examine his elaborate displays of posed, costumed and preserved animals, depicting scenes from World War I. When Mason’s elderly niece invites her to stay at the Red House itself, where she maintains the collection, Catherine can’t believe her luck. Until his niece exposes her to the dark message behind her uncle’s ‘Art’. Catherine tries to concentrate on the job, but M H Mason’s damaged visions raise dark shadows from her own past. Shadows she’d hoped had finally been erased. Soon the barriers between reality, sanity and memory start to merge. And some truths seem too terrible to be real.

Title: House of Small Shadows
Author: Adam Nevill
Details: Hardcover, 320 pages. Published October 10th 2013 by Tor

Read the review here.