Author: Alex Bell
Genre: YA thriller
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Year of Publication: 2014
Main Character: Sophie—(3/5). I liked Sophie, but her decisions didn’t always line up with what I thought was the logical answer.
Secondary Characters: The best character in this book was Lilias; she was the most consistent and the most helpful to Sophie. Cameron was decent, but too reclusive and unwilling to participate.
Pacing: Perfection. There was always something happening, even if it was only subtle.
Accuracy of Publisher’s Synopsis: The synopsis is accurate, but the tone makes the book seem a lot less creepy than it actually is. This book was pretty dark compared to what I normally read, but the summary didn’t set that tone.
Resolution: This was one of the best book endings I’ve read this year. Everything came together perfectly for a happy ending to a tumultuous book. I actually got the closure I needed. Everyone who mattered ended up in one piece, the antagonist got hit by the karma train, and the last few pages contained nothing but hope.
The Good: In spite of the creepiness, which is in excess in this book, the plot was compelling and drew me in from the first few pages. The setting couldn’t have been more perfect for the plot: an old schoolhouse that closed under mysterious circumstances right near a cliff on a remote island. The characters were complex and kept me guessing I was so relieved when Sophie began to have a confidant in the house, but I wish it had come sooner. Nonetheless, the story was intriguing and the mystery was unique; it wasn’t a book I had figured out by the third chapter, which was a relief.
The Not So Good: My only true criticism here is that the most important aspects of the mystery unfolded a little too far into the plot. There was plenty of creepy action and Frozen Charlottes galore…but there’s very little information on how all of the tragedies occurred and the involvement of the dolls until the last third of the book. I also wish that there had been more characters and the family had been more helpful to Sophie. They’ve had a lot of strange occurrences at their home. One would think that they’d be pretty open to Sophie’s theories. This book was honestly much creepier than I had been counting on, so that threw me off a bit. The Frozen Charlottes terrified me. Rebecca terrified me. Even the parrot terrified me. But I guess that was kind of the point.
Overall Impression: If you’re seeking a creepy tale to keep you up at night, then look no further. This book is filled with all the classics: angry little dead girls playing with evil dolls and singing haunting music. And it’s all complete with a mysterious family in a remote old house. This book played on all of the classic fears of extraordinary circumstances that will end in at least one person’s imminent doom, but the wheel set in motion can’t be stopped until someone else believes them.
Would I recommend it? I could go either way with this one. I wouldn’t read it a second time, but maybe I would recommend it to someone who has an affinity for thrillers.