Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bella by Anne and Edward Syfret

Flap copy from hardcover:
"What was this strange spell that the antique doll Bella cast over Sandy's friend Honorine? When they first found her in deserted Bell Tower Hall, Sandy had to admit that she was beautiful Her hair, a luminous reddy-gold, was piled on top of her head, and she wore an exquisitely tucked ivory gown. Honorine impetuously named her Bella, and then declared that she must have her, even though they both knew she belonged to the absent owner of the Hall. Honorine's immediate and intense attachment to the doll caused a sense of foreboding and danger in Sandy- a feeling which she suppressed again and again as Honorine's preoccupation with the doll grew.

When an unexpected development brings the doll closer to their reach than before, it seems that Honorine will stop at nothing to have her for her own. In spite of herself, Sandy is drawn further and further into Honorine's obsession. After repeatedly futile visits to the Hall., the girls become enmeshed in a bizarre and sinister chain of events, the explanation for which they are not to discover until years later.

For Bella, however ravishing, is only a sawdust-filled doll. Or is she?"

I read this book probably 25 years ago and it stuck with me, so much so that I recently hunted down a used copy to have for my very own (the one I originally read came from the library). I reread it semi-reluctantly, afraid the creeping sense of horror I remember so vividly would not carry through for an adult read. I am delighted to report that my fears were unfounded.

Granted, reading this book for the first time as an adult is unlikely to bring on the same sleepless nights I once suffered, but nothing about the book seems hokey even at this age. Though parts of the story seem a bit dated, overall this book definitely stands the test of time. Great atmosphere, scary setting, creepy homicidal doll- excellent young adult horror!


Anonymous said...

This sounds great for me! I am too much of a scaredy-cat to read grown-up scary books, but scary kids' books are just about right. I read several books with bad and/or semi-alive dolls growing up, but never even heard of this one!

Barbara Smith said...

I read that book when I was a kid too. I'm going to track down a copy for myself. Thanks for the review, I couldn't quite remember the two girls' names.