Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell (2016)

frozenAtmospheric horror with a wide age-range appeal and creepy dolls.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up

Pages:   298 (for ISBN 9780545941082)

Genre(s) and keywords: horror

Tone/Style: bleak, scary

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: curses, ghosts, dolls, possession, death

Themes: aftermath of tragedy, grief, family

Summary: Dunvegan School for Girls has been losed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and the 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 Lillias 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. (Source)

Who will like this book?: Consistent scares, a nice bit of lore, and some mystery mixed in should please most horror readers.

Who won’t like this book?: This falls pretty straightforwardly along genre lines and will appeal to most horror fans.  It shouldn’t be too intense for most readers in sixth grade and up who express an interest in horror, but you might want to be careful with extra sensitive readers. Trigger warning for readers who have lost siblings or close friends, or who have suffered trauma relating to siblings.

Other comments: I booktalked this in May 2018, and it was one of my most popular summer titles. To set the mood, I showed them a lovely picture of some actual frozen Charlotte dolls.

This book is free of mature content but scary enough that it appeals to pre-teens and teens of all ages.

Sequel(s): There’s a prequel called Charlotte Says, but it’s not available on Baker & Taylor so I haven’t bought it for my library.

Readalikes: This is part of a YA horror line called Red Eye, but I don’t think the other titles were published in the States so it may be hard to get copies through your usual channels. Try The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige Paige McKenzie or anything by Katie Alender.  If they’ve got a thing for dolls, they could try Doll Bones by Holly Black or Took by Mary Downing Hahn (though those aim a little younger).

-Kylie Peters

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