“It was toying with him, keeping him alive for sport the same way that cats played with injured mice.”
Ahh, finally! A book filled with horror, creepy children and a chilling atmosphere all the way through – bliss! I love a good scary book and it’s rare that I get to read them. (Horror authors, send your books my way!) Thankfully, my latest read had me a little reluctant to turn off the light at night time, yet still pulled me in day after day to read another chapter. Yep – something only the power of a great book can bring.
ALiCE by Avalon Roselin follows the story of Christopher, your average, hardworking guy who always makes sure the children at Woodrow Children’s Asylum are cared for as much as they can be. However, when a storm arrives and Christopher goes out in search for medicine, he’s involved in an accident. Where he wakes up leaves him fearing for his life and wondering whether he’ll ever get back to normality again.
Christopher seemed quite a normal guy at first, just doing his job and looking after some troubled kids in a children’s asylum, who obviously needed his attention. Even though we’re not sure when strange things will start to happen, there is instantly an eerie feeling about the setting. Avalon’s description of some of the children in the home was great – it really captured just how troubled they were, and I found it really easy to visualise. I suppose this is important in any book, but especially in the horror/thriller genre – you need to feel there is something wrong and question anything out of the ordinary.
After being somehow transported to a creepy hospital, Christopher well and truly feels like he’s lost his mind. Not only that, but he sees one of the children from his children’s home, Mickey. As relieved as he is to see the boy, he knows there’s something odd about the entire situation. Christopher doesn’t know where he is or what he’s doing there. He can’t even find an exit. So early on in the book, I felt really creeped out by the things Christopher saw. I felt scared for him that he might actually be stuck in this place for too long…
Avalon’s description of pretty much every character we meet and every setting we come across is done to perfection. I particularly loved how she painted a picture of a cat in one of the rooms. It looked normal from one side, but when it turned, it looked rabid and quite frankly, not the kind of cat you’d have as a pet. I felt really weirded out by it! That’s exactly how I need a horror book to make me feel, and Avalon has done a great job of making her readers fear what’s going to come next, even in some of the smaller details. Up to now, it’s a real page turner!
“In acceptance of his apology, Mickey’s teeth began to rip into Christopher’s flesh.”
After a horrifying experience, Christopher soon finds himself a safe place to stay thanks to a seemingly kind Sheriff. I couldn’t help but feel like his hospitality was too good to be true. The Sheriff also hinted that he shouldn’t go outside alone at night -another thing that set alarm bells ringing! I felt like this point of the story could be the start of something even more horrifying. Just as we start to think Christopher is safe, things start getting start getting more and more weird. Will things ever get back to normal or is Christopher simply stuck in this strange universe?
Christopher continues his search for Mickey, coming across some very odd characters along the way. We finally get to learn more about this strange place and why there seems to be no one around. Christopher quickly learns not to mention the hospital he woke up in, as it seems to trigger some horrible memories for a lot of the characters. One of the characters, Matthew, the owner of a deli store, sheds a little light on the town and answers a few burning questions. However, there’s so much more left to be uncovered.
Joseph and Mary were two of my favourite creepy characters. We’re led to believe that they’d help Christopher find Mickey and are confident he’d find answers from visiting their house. However, on arrival, Christopher quickly got a feeling that something wasn’t right – if you’re not a fan of creepy dolls, you may want to read through this part quickly… I really loved this scene – it made me go “urgh” and “eww” a few times! Well, creepy dolls, y’know. Yuck.
It was around halfway through the story where I questioned the title of the book. I still wasn’t entirely sure who or what Alice was. I remembered there was a young girl called Alice in the children’s asylum at the beginning, and there was a couple of small references to Alice In Wonderland I noticed, but other than that, it remained quite unclear. Usually, the title of a book and its meaning are apparent quite quickly, but with Alice, I was still a little confused, even at the midway point. Maybe this was intentional? I was sure all would become clear soon enough…and it did after a while! (Be patient…)
“We’ve all got our demons, Chris. I think you can forgive me for not wanting to talk about mine.”
The middle of the book was great – I loved every single descriptive scene, each more involving than the next. We meet yet more creepy ghost children and odd creatures, and see Christopher get himself into some frightening situations, all to save that one child who made an imprint on his heart. It’s the power of love, guys. I think we’d all do the same thing. Well, maybe in different circumstances…
Mickey seems to be a champion at hide and seek, and as soon as Christopher locates him, he makes an attempt to disappear again. Whether Christopher is hallucinating or not, he is determined to find answers and to get the pair of them back to the safety of Woodrow. With the way the story was going, I wasn’t convinced they’d make it – Christopher will have to step up his bravery and determination to succeed. But has he got it in him to do so?
Many characters who we begin to trust throughout the story aren’t exactly what they seem the more we get to know them. Unfortunately, Christopher finds this out the hard way. As a reader, I was shocked at the outcome for some of them! It just goes to show that you can’t trust anyone, no matter how kind they seem on the surface…
As things get more serious, the monsters more dangerous and the chances of finding Mickey becoming slimmer and slimmer, Christopher must think on his feet and decide on the best routes to take. He risks his life multiple times and sustains some pretty serious injuries all to do what he thinks is right – to get himself and Mickey out of this horrific place.
Christopher faces a lot of different emotions towards the end of the book and it really made me, as a reader, feel for him too. That’s one of the main things I enjoyed about this book – Avalon’s ability to really capture a character’s feelings and pass them onto her readers. I particularly enjoyed the moment where Christopher snapped – he knew exactly what he needed to do and where he needed to go, and it seemed as though all his emotions were running as high as they possibly could be, forcing him to make a decision.
“No matter what happens, I’ll escape. One way or another, the pain and fear will end.”
There’s a great twist at the end of the book, something which I’m obviously not going to share! It was unique and in my opinion, one of the best endings I’ve read so far. Things are rounded off nicely and we begin to understand more than we did before after quite a lengthy chat between some familiar characters. We’re also given a warning, so basically, I’m never sleeping again…
After reading ALiCE for my first horror/thriller review, I think it’s safe to say that this one has set the bar pretty high. Avalon’s talent for writing is clear – bringing a bunch of unusual characters to life and expressing their thoughts, feelings and emotions flawlessly.
The story flows well and has a really creepy feel about it throughout – something a horror book must have in my opinion! I’m really excited to read more of Avalon’s stories of different genres. It’ll be really interesting to see if they are written in a similar style, or whether they’re completely different.
A huge thanks to Avalon Roselin for allowing me to read and review ALiCE! You can purchase your own copy of the book on Amazon, available on Kindle or paperback. 📚 Follow Avalon over on Twitter and Instagram for more updates!
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