My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The first thing that caught my eye about Frozen Charlotte is that deliciously stark and scary cover. Eyes, staring, and the eternally terrifying premise of dolls. It’s a brilliant cover and one that stood out, rather immensely, from the rest of the shelf. And that’s where I began with Frozen Charlotte; unaware as to anything about it save that distinct, unnerving cover.
I like books like this; books that know their context and revel in it. There’s a lot to be said for the scary novel, the terror text, that knows restraint. I think we’re starting to see a bit of a backlash against it in the wider media; the superheroes who destroy entire cities, the supernatural battles which erase thousands of lives in the blink of an eye.
Frozen Charlotte positions itself at the other end of the spectrum, squarely, it’s a horror novel but one which centres on a family torn apart by death and tragedy, and a friendship shattered by death. It’s a fiercely written novel, one that doesn’t shy away from the horrific or the terrifying, but it earns these moments. Bell gives us family and friendship and though I’d have welcomed more of this grounding, I did love what we were given. An ex-girl’s school in Scotland. A family with secrets and twists and turns. And itchingly unnerving scenes that make you pause, just a little, to glance around as you turn the page.
I liked this a lot, this blunt and immediate and strong book. Bell writes with pace and verve (verve! I haven’t written a sentence with that in for years!) and Frozen Charlotte is something quite distinctly unnerving and precise. It’s a sharp book too, one which constantly twists and turns, and horror doesn’t tend to survive in such scenarios unless you believe the world it’s part of. And I believed the world of Frozen Charlotte; it’s rooted, believable, too-close horror.
3 thoughts on “Frozen Charlotte : Alex Bell”
I relish novels where you can believe in the world the characters inhabit because that helps me believe in them too. This sounds tempting, as does the Whitman family novel you reviewed more recently.
It’s a novel which really captures place, and yes, you’re right, you need to believe in the world because that helps you to believe in the characters.