Jealousy. Betrayal. Murder. And a hunger for vengeance that spans the centuries…
History student Alex Palmer is thrilled when his girlfriend, Claire Ryan, buys an apartment in Belle Vue Manor, formerly a Victorian lunatic asylum.
But as Alex begins to discover the dark truth about the asylum’s past, he, Claire, and their friend Marianne find themselves on a nightmarish journey. Each will face the deadly consequences of the evil that began with the construction of the first Belle Vue Manor by an aristocratic French émigré in 1789, as well as the cruelty and satanic practices that continued when it became an asylum for the insane.
As the two strands—past and present—unfold, Alex uncovers a supernatural mystery where revenge is paramount and innocence irrelevant—without being aware of the price he, and those around him, will pay.
Author: C.S Alleyne
Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing
Genre: Horror/Historical Thriller
Release Date: 25th August 2020
My Chosen Format: Kindle
My Rating of ‘Belle Vue’: 5 out of 5
Purchase: Amazon UK, Amazon US
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I’m not normally one for trigger warnings, but this one is an incredibly dark and hard-hitting novel. It features sexual assault (literally in the opening pages and as a fairly strong theme, both threats thereof and actual assault, throughout). I’m only throwing that out there as the novel really is a dark, grim treasure that doesn’t deserve low ratings due to people picking it up not being aware that it features themes they may not be comfortable reading about.
I’ll admit, the full-on, opening page sexual assault made me think ‘do I really want to read this? Am I going to get any enjoyment out of this novel that is quite clearly so full of misery and oppression?’. Fortunately for me, I pushed on. As soon as you get used to the dark themes used (this features an asylum from the 1800s, so it is going to be very grim, very dark and very uncomfortable for all characters involved) you can get so much out of this novel.
The overall plot is set in two time periods, these being the present day and the 1860s. The author did a good job of keeping me intrigued as far as both time periods went and it was one of those rare split time period books where I genuinely couldn’t decide which plotline I was more interested in. So well done C.S Alleyne on that. The author had a truly wonderful way of getting to the end of the chapter, making you hate the fact that you had to wait through a whole other chapter to get back to what you wanted to read, only to make you feel the exact same way about the chapter you thought was going to be ‘getting in the way’.
I enjoy how both timeline plots meld together to form one overarching plot line and, the way the author handled the story throughout and the ending of Bell Vue had me eager for the next in the series. So I’ll certainly be grabbing a copy of that when it comes out.
One negative to say about Bell Vue, it would be that the haunting aspect of it just happened full on. I would have preferred a bit more build up rather than just full on interactions/apparitions etc … I just feel it might have added a bit more of a creepy factor to the book rather than simply the shock value it seemed to go for more often than not. The lack of a slow build up in the 1780s time period worked in the book’s favour, however, as you truly never knew who would live, die or how certain characters would act. That really suited the asylum aspect, but I just feel it let the modern day story down a tad by not going for a slower build up with the hauntings.
Another slight drawback was the overuse of the word ‘lunatic’. In the past it made sense as, in the 1700s, lunatic was a totally acceptable term for the people who were forced to call asylums home. The people in the modern day, however, especially the guy who was researching the asylum for his uni project, should have known that it’s not the done thing to use that word to describe such people. The fact that a character who is supposedly knowledgeable about this subject uses it or doesn’t mention anything to the people who use it when speaking to him, kind of feels like a bad bit of character work.
Overall, the positives and the enjoyment I got from this story far outweigh the negatives so it scores top marks from me. Just a shame it’ll be a bit of wait until the sequel is released. That’s the downside of getting to read something ahead of it’s release, though. Have to wait for the next in the series longer than everyone else.