January 5, 2015
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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.
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Bell combines some of the best kids of creepy: dolls, little girls, (potentially) dead little girls, and old timey schoolhouses in this great read. Those pieces are not all Frozen Charlotte has going for it, either. The atmosphere is fantastic. From our introduction to the book and to Sophie to her arrival at her cousin's (both the town and the house), the author creates a feeling of foreboding from nearly the first page.
That sense of lurking danger, of things possibly not being what they seem - all paired with the dolls, the setting and one odd set of relatives - all come together to create an anxiety and pull readers into the tale.
At first, it is hard to be sure if Sophie's ill at ease feelings are a because of what has happened, perhaps even an overreaction, or if they're a very logical reaction to what is to come. As things progress, it almost doesn't seem possible that all that seems to have happened, to be happening, really could. Yet, there doesn't seem to be much other explanation.
Sophie is a great character to be at the center of this novel. She is an outsider in this world of her cousins' which allows for more unknowns, more questions, more uncertainty (for her and the reader, as well). Yet, she's also had something happen to her that leads to some questioning of her character, of her interpretation of things, too.
When everything comes together, Frozen Charlotte is stranger, creepier and more startling than you expect. Better than probably any horror movie, this is one you'll want to read in a well lit - and doll free - room.
thank you to the publisher for my review copy through NetGalley