Belle Vue is a well written, page turning, hard to put down, gothic horror novel set in an insane asylum with a deeply disturbing past.
The author tells the story in two different eras. The story opens in the 1860's, with Mary and her sister, Ellen in the forefront with Belle Vue in full operation, complete with the cruel and sadistic treatment of its patients.
Present day Belle Vue, has been renovated into luxury apartments and Claire has decided to move in. Her boyfriend Alex is thrilled and sets his sights on learning the history of the asylum. Soon, Clarie's friend, Marianne (who had a ghoulish childhood experience with her sister while creeping around the abandoned asylum) comes to stay with her.
Once Claire is settled, peculiar things start to happen. Shadowy figures lurk in hallways, strange goings on happen in the apt, utilities go haywire, and more specific, personalities begin to change. Are the past and present of Belle Vue coming together? An elderly neighbor who worked at the asylum in the 1950's may have some answers but is hesitant to speak.
I really enjoyed this book. The writing was strong, descriptive and atmospheric. It was clear that Ms. Alleyne had done her research and I felt like I had jumped into the book and felt the horror that the patients lived everyday.
The author moved from one time period to another seamlessly. The story flowed smoothy. Belle Vue had what every good horror novel has: Terror. It was scary, creepy, disturbing with twists and turns and a good ending.
I thought the characters and plot were stronger in the 1860's timeline. The author did a great job writing the antagonists in both eras, but the villains in the 19th century were ruthless, they lusted after revenge, sex, money and power. They were edgy, fighters, and we understood their motivation and why a few of them had become the person they were.
The modern story and characters weren't as gritty. Alex was hard to connect with and sometimes even hard to like. I didn't always understand Claire's affection for him, but Belle Vue's story was so solid and compelling, it didn't take away my enjoyment of the book, but I did notice it.
All in all, a great read if you're a fan of gothic horror, like I am.
*I received a complimentary ARC of Belle Vue from Crystal Lake Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
**There are a couple explicit scenes that include sexual violence.