After Sophie’s best friend dies in a tragic accident, she travels to the isle of Skye in Scotland to visit her relatives, who live there in an old, possibly haunted mansion.
As soon as the white, English teen arrives she encounters hostility from nearly everyone, perhaps partly due to the fact that the family is still grieving her cousin Rebecca, who died some years earlier. Her little cousin Lilias, whom Sophie at last wins over, is terrified of the tiny dolls stored in her dead sister’s room. The Victorian-era dolls are called Frozen Charlottes, designed and named after a fairy tale about a girl who froze to death. Sophie is given the room next door and immediately begins experiencing possible ghostly attacks. She believes that Lilias is right to be afraid, as the attacks seem to originate with the tiny dolls, which appear to have moved whenever she looks at them. Sophie eventually will learn that there is a villain present who may be working with the dolls, and her own situation becomes ever more precarious. Bell doesn’t bother with too much subtlety as she presents a straight-out horror story. She reveals the identity of the villain suddenly, with an instant change in behavior from that character, leaving readers to decide whether they’ve just read a ghost story, a murder mystery, or both. The Frozen Charlotte dolls are inventively creepy—an effective device regardless.
Gothic ghosts combine with crime for a fast read. (Horror. 12-18)