Another, day another Flame Tree Press read! Today’s book is `Greyfriars Reformatory´ from Frazer Lee. So, thanks to Flame Tree Press and NetGalley for my copy of the book.
I know that this book has been out for a while by now, but I am slowly working my way through my reviews.
Greyfriars Reformatory is an institution for girls far away from any form of civilization. Main character Emily finds herself in the ranks of new arrivals, her fellow new inmates are a mixed bunch all with problems and secrets of their own. She is trapped between the cruelty of one of her fellow inmates and Greyfriars reformatory’s apparently singular employee, principal Quick who seems to have a special interest in her. When a ghostly apparition that is named the “grey girl” starts showing up and the girls starts dying, Emily and her ever dwindling group of fellow inmates need to rush to discover the truth to what is happening in, and how to escape Greyfriars Reformatory alive.
Creepy brick building, check! Bunch of misfits, check! Evil headmaster, check! Creepy ghost girl with hair in front of her face, check! These are all things that have been done more than once, so everything is lined up for this to be a clichéd read, but no, Frazer Lee’s writing keeps things fresh. Using Emily as an unreliable narrator, (something that she admits in the beginning of the book), is done with great effect, are things really happening or is something more supernatural afoot? Another thing is that with all the set pieces one feels like this will be a slow burn, but no, the story goes along at a breakneck speed at times, with bodies starting to drop rather quickly, and in this instance, it works rather well. To be honest, some of the ways the inmates die is rather gnarly! I found myself wincing from a few of the deaths here!
One thing I will say is that this is the first time in years, where I have had goosebumps from a scene in a book, I won’t go into the details of which scene, but the plot combined with the overall atmosphere in the book just made my hairs stand on end! That alone is worth a few stars!
As for the characters, well you don’t expect young girls that are in an institution to be balanced and well-rounded people. The cast have plenty of flaws and unsavoury character traits. However, this makes you have sympathy with the girls, we get to see why they are the way that they are, which makes it all more grounded and believable. It also makes it more harrowing when one of them dies.
All in all, a well written, fast paced, atmospheric tale that delivers on the shivers, written with heart.
I know one thing for sure, I need to read more of Frazer Lee, should start with his other work from Flame Tree Press ‘Hearthstone Cottage’, that I have standing on a shelf somewhere (don’t judge me, life as a book hoarder is hard sometimes!)