This is the first in a new chilling imprint called Red Eye, a series of horror stories aimed at the young adult market. Following the death of her friend in an accidental drowning, Sophie is sent for a holiday with her uncle and cousins on the island of Skye. However she finds that things are even darker and stranger than she could have imagined. The whole family seem traumatized by the death of her cousin Rebecca, seven years previously and there is a brooding sense of evil that is affecting the family. Central to all of this is the collection of ‘dead’ dolls, called frozen Charlottes, which represent an old folk tale and which seem to be exerting a frightening influence over at least one member of the household. The twists and turns of the story lead us to a tragic conclusion and there is a final twist at the end which will make you shudder.
The idea of using dolls as an evil influence is not unusual in fiction for young people; try a search for dolls in horror fiction and you will be amazed at how many there are. Alex Bell has used them to great effect and the idea still sends a shiver down my back. The story is beautifully told and the varying layers are gradually exposed, building our fascination and involvement with the story. Despite the fact that I am not a lover of horror stories I was engrossed by this tale and the outcomes for the main characters. The horror is not as obvious as authors such as Darren Shan and Charlie Higson; this is a much more subtle and believable tale, which plays to our questioning minds when we say ‘what if it is true?’ or ‘does the supernatural really exist?’. This is high quality writing for a genre that is often mass produced and as such it is to be very warmly welcomed.