My October read has been Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell, a ghost story set in the former Dunvegan School for Girls. I’ve really enjoyed reading it and it has been the perfect book for Halloween. The story is about a girl called Sophie whose best friend Jay mysteriously dies soon after they try to contact Sophie’s dead cousin, Rebecca, through a Ouija board.
The Dunvegan School for Girls is now Sophie’s cousins’ family home – and she goes to spend the summer with them after Jay’s death. But, things are not as they first appear. Frozen Charlotte is a twisted tale of strange happenings and not knowing who to trust, all tied up with the eerie American folk ballad Fair Charlotte which is based on a 1843 poem by Seba Smith, A Corpse Going To A Ball.
The tale of Fair Charlotte is about a young girl who will not wrap herself up in layers of clothing for the sleigh ride to a ball in fear that people will not be able to see her beautiful gown. Upon arrival at the ball, her fiancé realises that she has frozen to death. Frozen Charlotte dolls were inspired by this tale, white porcelain dolls that don’t bend at the joints as if they are frozen in place.
In the book, the children who used to live at the Dunvegan School used to play with such dolls and they are still part of the house when Sophie arrives many years later.
“I opened my mouth to scream and found that the hands were in my mouth as well, tiny little cold fingers far too small to be human.”
The characters in this story are really interesting and so much mystery is weaved throughout them. From Lilias and her fear of bones, Cameron’s burnt hand and their father’s fearful paintings of Piper as an evil mermaid.
Animals also seems to play an integral part of the story, such as the cats and Dark Tom. Dark Tom, Piper’s sinister parrot who sits in the doorway to the house, speaks only vicious and unpleasant words and phrases. Cameron explains that the bird will repeat anything if he hears if often enough, which made me wonder about what terrible things could’ve been happening when he learnt the words “Monstrous, monstrous” and “There’s blood under the rug!”
The mystery behind Rebecca’s death and the involvement of the strange little Frozen Charlotte dolls that scratch away at the cabinet they’ve been locked in when no one is watching are the keys behind this story. It is a satisfying end to all the questions that are posed throughout and the spooky happenings keep you on your toes.
Let me know if you’ve read Frozen Charlotte in the comments below and what you thought!