{Book Review} Belle Vue: C.S. Alleyne

Belle Vue: C.S. Alleyne

Reviewed By J.A. Sullivan

Most books fall into two easy categories: enjoyed it, or not for me. But occasionally I come across something that seems to belong in both piles at the same time. Case in point, Belle Vue by C. S. Alleyne. There were parts of the story that blew me away and had me at the edge of my seat. However, there were equal parts where I wanted to fling the book across the room and never retrieve it. Complicated feelings to say the least. But that’s just me – this could be your next favourite read, so let’s dig into what this book is all about.

In the 1860s Belle Vue operated as a lunatic asylum, a place for people to discretely get rid of troublesome family members. At least that’s what Mary hopes Belle Vue can do for her, relieving her of the responsibility of caring for her younger sister Ellen. But Mary’s plans change after meeting one of the doctors, a man from her past she wants to kill.

Decades later, in present-day, the building has been gutted and renovated into a beautiful apartment estate. Alex hopes it’s the perfect place for his girlfriend Claire to settle into, and perhaps the perfect subject for his history dissertation.

As the book progresses chapters alternate between these two timelines. But the longer we travel with Mary, the more it seems her life is bleeding into the present, set on destroying anyone who crosses her path.

I absolutely loved the authentic feel of the Victorian age sections. They were so vivid I could almost feel the grimy asylum walls. The book also includes a heap of violence in both timelines, murders, ghosts, possession, and a cult worshipping Mephistopheles, which I really enjoyed. There is a lot going on in this novel, and as far as the premise goes it all comes together in a pleasantly unexpected way.

However, as much as the premise was interesting, the way the story was told is what frustrated me the most. The strongest characters were Ellen (Mary’s sister) and Claire (Alex’s girlfriend), and for much of the book, it feels like they were the main characters. Alex felt severely underdeveloped to a point I thought, “what’s this guy even doing in this story?” Imagine my shock as I reread the synopsis and saw he was supposed to be the main character of the entire novel.

As much as I stumbled with whose story was being told, I was also disgruntled at when the story was being told. There were several scenes throughout the book that should have been summarized, and important scenes that were casually glossed over. For example, Claire’s neighbour desperately calls Alex after hearing screams from her apartment, but instead of a scene where Alex shows up and tries to make sense of everything, there’s only a summary within an active scene of Alex hungover and being goaded by his friends.

Unfortunately, Belle Vue by C. S. Alleyne had equal faults and praises for me. But, if you like haunted asylum stories, this could be more enjoyable for you.

Belle Vue

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.

You can buy Belle Vue from Amazon UK & Amazon US

J.A. Sullivan

J. A. Sullivan is a horror writer and paranormal enthusiast, based in Brantford, ON, Canada. Attracted to everything non-horror folks consider strange, she’s spent years as a paranormal investigator, has an insatiable appetite for serial killer information, and would live inside a library if she could.

As curator of “Scary’s Voices” on Kendall Reviews, an article series reviewing horror podcasts, Sullivan loves listening to all things spooky. If you have a horror podcast recommendation, let her know.

On top of contributing short stories to Kendall Reviews, her fiction has appeared in Don’t Open the Door (2019), It Came From The Darkness (2020), and she acted as an assistant editor for Black Dogs, Black Tales (2020). Other spooky tales and updates on her writing journey can be found on her blog.

You can follow J. A. on Twitter @ScaryJASullivan

Check out her blog https://writingscaredblog.wordpress.com

Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan

Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan

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