Young Adult; Horror; Thriller
“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.”
Possessed toys freak me out. There, I’ve said it. This is probably the result of an early childhood trauma (thanks, big bro, for showing me Chucky), and this only got worse. The most horrifying piece of work by Stephen King? The short story “The Monkey“. Seriously, read it: it’s terrifying, and you won’t watch Toy Story 3 in the same way ever again.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s be clear: the genre of YA thriller/horror books fascinates me. Red Eye (a subsection of Little Tiger publishing; I encourage you to take a look at their amazing catalogue) has some really good books in this category, and I’m slowly making my way through these. I’ve started with Savage Island, which was creepy but not as interesting as I thought it would be. Frozen Charlotte, though? Definitely as interesting as it sounded.
In a formidable display of my innocence, I thought the Frozen Charlotte dolls featuring in this story were invented. Turns out, they’re not. Here, so I’m not the only one having nightmares where these dolls put needles through my eyes:
Anyway, enough talk about my childhood traumas and other cursed monkeys. This book gave me the creeps as soon as I saw its cover, and it did not disappoint. The atmosphere was constantly creepy, to the point where I did not know anymore who I could trust. Who was the bad guys? And can we stop talking about possessed dolls, please?
This genre fascinates me mostly because it asks of its authors to mix two very specific genres: horror (or thriller) and YA. In Savage Island, the term ”horror” was translated into ”increasingly more gory scenes”, but the plot in itself was a bit too thin for me. In Frozen Charlotte, though, even if, of course, it is still fantasy, you can definitely believe in what’s happening, and feel the characters’ terror as you go along.
This book would probably have gotten a 10/10 rating, but, in my opinion, it had two major faults. First, the death of one of the characters, which is the trigger of everything that follows, is kind of… underwhelming? It’s a bit like the author knew this was important, but did not really manage to transcribe how important it was. Second, and I’m aware this will sound silly, there might have been just a bit too many plot twists. I get that it is important to surprise the reader, but I get confused when I think that yes, that’s what’s going to happen, and it does not, again and again – just a personal preference.
The fact is, generally speaking, this book had me hooked to the point where, when a guy next to me in the library sneezed as I was reading it, I jumped about two feet in the air and was ready to fight. This is definitely a good sign, though this might not sound like it. At least, it’s a good sign when you’re reading a horror book.
To Read If…
You’re new to the genre of YA horror: this is a perfect introduction! Also, if possessed dolls creep you out and you want to be scared. Trust me, this is a good choice.