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Belle Vue

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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.

350 pages, Paperback

Published August 25, 2020

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About the author

C.S. Alleyne

2 books27 followers
C S Alleyne grew up in Australia and originally trained as a hotel manager in the UK. After several postings in the Caribbean she changed tack and completed her MBA followed several years later by a PhD in Information Systems. She is a management consultant and also lectures in several universities.

With a lifelong love of reading, anything historical and a fascination with the supernatural and death, her vacations usually include visits to such places as the Pere La Chaise cemetery and the catacombs in Paris, the tombs in Egypt, the Popes’ crypts in the Vatican and any church yard with gravestones – you get the picture…

Cheryl was inspired to write BELLE VUE, her debut novel, by her daily journey past a block of luxury apartments that had been converted from an old asylum. Like her protagonist, Alex Palmer, she started to investigate its past and learnt that one of the inmates was murdered there in the late 19th century. The victim’s sister was hung for the crime. Cheryl was also thrilled to discover the asylum’s overgrown cemetery in her explorations of the area!

Her novelette, POWEЯ, a tale of horror and revenge, was published in December, 2019 and BELLE VUE, a paranormal horror, on 25 August 2020 by Crystal Lake Publishing.

She is currently working on the follow up to BELLE VUE.

She is represented by Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews
Profile Image for Whispering Stories.
2,757 reviews2,580 followers
June 17, 2020
Book Reviewed on www.whisperingstories.com

The prologue to this book sets the tone of the story very well, it’s shocking and gritty without being gory and lets you know exactly what to expect from the book.

I’ve found that the majority of ghost stories take a long while to build up to the full level of violence and gore, which can lead to disappointment if you get halfway through and it’s not what you were expecting but this one set the tone right at the beginning so I knew that I was in for a treat.

This wasn’t the only pleasant surprise from the author, there were a few unexpected twists that I’ve never encountered before in the genre and I absolutely adore the fresh approach. These twists are used throughout the book, taking it in unexpected directions.

The story is set in both the present day and the late 1800s events in the Belle-Vue asylum, which has since been turned into apartments. The chapters alternate between these timelines and a variety of characters which builds a compelling picture of the occult, haunting and human betrayal.

The only downside that I found is that I couldn’t really connect with any of the characters; none of them particularly appealed to me (though I didn’t hate them!) and I was glad that the story was strong enough to hold my attention instead.

I would recommend this to fans of Gothic horror, it covers both a nasty paranormal element but also the horrible truths about how people were treated in mental institutions in the 19th century and how easy it was for someone to be committed. The story takes this classic trope in some unexpected directions and is well worth the read.
Profile Image for J.A. Sullivan.
Author 9 books41 followers
February 12, 2021
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 worshiping 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.

*Review first appeared on Kendall Reviews*
Profile Image for Bandit.
4,607 reviews464 followers
February 28, 2021
I love reading thematically and this February I managed to cover the black historical aspect, but almost completely forgot to honor the women who scare us. Quick scramble around my kindle produced this book, which had absolutely all the makings of greatness.
First and foremost, it’s set in an asylum, which is about as perfect of a setting for a scary story as you can get. It’s naturally spooky, in fact it’s difficult to screw up. But throw in a centuries old devil worshipping orgy throwing society, a haunting mystery and some potential immortality and surely you got a winner there, right? Well, no, actually, somehow that’s a no here.
To be fair, there’s nothing really wrong with this book technically. I selected it originally because I enjoyed the author’s novella Power. And I do strive for objectivity with my reviews, but the main goal is always to primarily reflect a personal reading experience and this one has been underwhelming at best. Which is to say, try as I might…just didn’t like this book very much. Pretty much the basics…didn’t like or care about any of the characters, found the pacing to drag, the plot to meander and the ending to be too indefinite. The dialogue was stilted. And it wasn’t all that original to boot. Asylums are freaking haunted. It’s a given. If an old standard is used, it should be given a fresher twist.
But the thing is, having all that been said, it’s a perfectly readable, reasonably plotted novel, with two alternating timelines, 1860s when the asylum was operating as such and doubling as a pleasure palace for the wealthy and depraved and modern day where a college kid who comes into some money following her parents’ death decides (apparently having never watched or read a single story that starts just like that and ends terribly) that buying a flat in a remodeled asylum is a totally ok thing to do. Presumably one has to be young to do something that stupid, although some of her neighbors are of a more mature vintage. Some more than others, in fact, but that would be telling…
So anyway, the college age kids don’t really engage, the tragic victims and manipulative power players of the bygone era try but don’t either. I can’t say I cared about any of it, just read it to finish, it was mildly entertaining at times. Then again, this is, as mentioned, is a personal subjective experience. User mileage may vary. So, February’s reading agenda is now complete. Check.
Profile Image for Cobwebby Eldritch Reading Reindeer .
5,257 reviews297 followers
May 6, 2020
My reaction to BELLE VUE, from first page to end, is an enormous resounding chorus of "WOWS!!!" and "MORE! MORE! MORE!" BELLE VUE is fantastic and exceptional, one hundred percent riveting--I wished to never stop! I want sequels!! The characters, the history, the backstory: author C. S. Alleyne has clearly spent time in the research caves studying Asylum history in Great Britain and the United States, and "organizations " such as the Hellfire Club. She certainly has a finely attuned characterization of Human Evil, whether it stems from innate depravity, or from life tribulations [as is the case with Mary Grady]. Excellent character delineations, exciting plotting, and oh! What a plot! I want to drop everything and read it all over again!
Profile Image for Horror DNA.
1,134 reviews98 followers
January 20, 2021
C.S. Alleyne does a decent job with setting and atmosphere. Belle Vue is suitably creepy. The building itself puts the reader in mind of the Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts with its central building and subsequent wings ala the Kirkbride model. The opening scene leaves readers with no doubts about the sinister happenings and includes a rather brutal sexual assault of a patient. It borders on the line of too much for this reader, but I do understand why it is included and most of the physicality is “off screen”.

You can read Tracy's full review at Horror DNA by clicking here.
Profile Image for Dan.
71 reviews7 followers
May 4, 2020
Fun fact, the road I grew up in was called “Bellevue Road” and one of the dates in the chapter title is on my birthday; august 10th. Not really relevant to the review but I had to get it out there.

So let’s talk Belle Vue by C.S. Alleyne.

It’s chilling when insane asylums get converted into flats. Would you live in one? Some people can’t fathom the idea. Too much bad juju. I’m in the opinion that as long as the price is right I’ll live anywhere. Especially if it has access to an on-site swimming pool and gym.

This is why Claire Ryan, one of our story protagonists, decides to move into Belle Vue. Despite her Best friend’s reservations (Marianne) who’s had a bad experience inside the grounds when it was a derelict Victorian insane asylum. Claire’s boyfriend, Alex Palmer, finds it fascinating and decides to research the building as part of his history dissertation.

The book alternates its chapters between the present time and the 1800s. Ellen Grady’s mum has died of typhoid fever. This leaves Ellen to prepare for her funeral and figure out her life on her own. She gets reacquainted with her half-sister Mary, who comes home, after a long absence, to make sure her stepmother has truly died. There’s something about Mary (and yes I really did just say that). She’s confident, sharp, and sexy. Ellen wants a piece of that action and clings on to her older sister, and moves in with her at the pub she’s been living/working at that Mary’s fiance owns.

Turns out, Mary’s fiance’s brother, Bill Callahan has got a new job at Belle Vue Lunatic Asylum. The wheels start turning in Mary’s head, she isn’t happy about her sister hanging about the pub, and decides to get her sister sectioned there…. And Ellen agreed. I don’t know why, somaybe she did belong there.

So as the chapters alternate, Ellen realizes that the asylum isn’t all that, and in the present time Claire Ryan realizes the same thing. It’s a page-turner that gets darker and darker the more we uncover what is actually going on within the grounds.



As I sit here writing this review in a Victorian house, I wonder what someone was doing in this very spot a hundred years ago? Would I even want to live here if I knew? As the readers of Belle Vue, we have the power to look into the windows of the past. The alternating timelines give us that power, and it’s fascinating to see those time-lines bounce off each other and cross over. As a former paranormal investigator, my imagination would run wild when I entered old buildings. I wanted to be present, but my mind was in the past. So that story structure was down my street.

Watching everything slowly go wrong in Claire’s apartment was everything you expect.

I should warn you that there are cruel and violent scenes of a sexual nature. I didn’t think it was graphic, but it was unsettling, we all react differently. So if you’re affected by these kinds of scenes then I don’t think this book is for you.

That being said, There was a scene in Mary’s back story that was so creepy I couldn’t sleep (reading horror before bed - good plan). But as much as it was creepy, it was well written, and that chapter alone was a bravo moment from me. It gave me that “this is why I read horror” moment.

Unfortunately, after that point I felt the story wane.

Spoiler Alert from here on out.

Seriously, don’t read if you want to go into this novel blind.

Final thoughts:

C.S Alleyne is incredible at setting the scene and inciting the emotion. Was it her intention to put me in a lunatic asylum without a friendly face? I wonder.

Thank you to Crystal Lake Publishing for letting me read an ARC copy for review.
Profile Image for Katherine Moore.
168 reviews44 followers
August 25, 2020
First of all, I don't think I can resist any novel set in an insane asylum. But this huge selling point was just one of the reasons I loved the debut novel Belle Vue by British author C.S. Alleyne, coming out THIS coming Tuesday, TOMORROW, August 25th.

This paranormal thriller begins when Claire Ryan finds her perfect new home at the Belle Vue Manor, a renovated Victorian-era asylum. Her boyfriend and history student, Alex Palmer, is almost as excited as she is for her move-in, as he decides to write his dissertation about the historical Belle Vue estate. Their excitement is short-lived as Claire’s arrival triggers a chain of nightmarish events, and Alex uncovers the grisly truth about the asylum’s history.
The story unravels by way of two timelines, one with Claire in the present day, and the other back in 1868, during the asylum's grisly 'heyday.' Ellen Grady is committed to the Victorian Belle Vue Lunatic Asylum by her half (and more supposedly 'glamorous') sister Mary, after their mother's death, but the intentions she has for her are downright villainous. Claire and Ellen will directly suffer the effects of the evil unleashed by the early cruel satanic practices of the French aristocrat who had the manor built back in 1789, and which continued after it opened.

While it may not be a new writing device to have two timelines in a novel, author Alleyne sticks with each one for long chapters and they are wholly absorbing (I often find that many authors use this, and they flit around too much). Author C.S. Alleyne thoroughly researched Victorian asylum history before writing this, and so Belle Vue is rich with detail, with the Victorian chapters feeling very different from those of the present day.
It's also no huge surprise when Claire's move into Belle Vue starts a stream of supernatural events but it doesn't dampen the need to read on; what Ellen has to go through at the asylum is nothing short of horrifying and the fates of both of them (as well as Claire's friend Marianne) are in question.
This is where I must say there is a lot of physical horror and gore in this book, more than I expected, and I'll be honest, that is what got me glued, but some of it's hard to stomach. Alleyne depicts shocking treatment of patients within the insane asylum, as well as awful scenes at the manor when it was owned by the Duc, Rene de Montalt, upon construction. How could there NOT be evil within those walls when so much pain, depravity, and death have been there since the beginning?

There are some surprising twists and turns, and some brilliantly written side characters who hang in the shadows at Belle Vue, as well as some overtly nasty ones. Claire's boyfriend, Alex is integral to uncovering the truth behind it all, but the standout characters are the women, and they are all amazing to read.
Alleyne was inspired by living nearby to Leavesden Asylum in Hertfordshire, and the asylum itself feels like an entity, a character to be reckoned with. I think her personal experience of feeling that history and setting come through in her writing, and you can envision the grounds and building both then and now. I love that I finished this book with not only this surprise of an original horror/thriller, I felt like I had read an actual account of a real place because of the story that was told, so vivid were the feelings I experienced. It is an absolute page-turner, and it kept me up at night, and I really can't wait for another book from this author.

**Thank you for the review copy of this book!

Content warnings: Rape, torture, physical and emotional abuse, mental disorders, murder
Profile Image for Noelle Kelly.
187 reviews10 followers
August 25, 2020
With today’s stormy weather and fall on the way, it’s the perfect time for a ghost story in a spooky location.

Belle Vue, a former insane asylum, is now the location for luxury apartments. Claire purchases one of the apartments, to the delight of boyfriend and history student, Alex. Protecive best friend Marianne has a strange feeling the moment they enter the property.

This is only the start of the story – Belle Vue will impact all their lives. We see a dark and ominous presence in modern day Belle Vue. In parallel, we are told the story of former inmate Ellen Grady and her sister Mary.

The historical story is emotive, dark and quite disturbing in parts. As we are immersed in the goings on at Belle Vue, the drama in the present time intensifies, as does the danger. We soon find out that true evil lurks within Belle Vue and it’s restless past.

Belle Vue was gripping and immersive. The supernatural scenes were chilling and the imagery was dark and graphic. The author tortures their characters, making for an epic ghost story.
112 reviews4 followers
August 1, 2020
I am a sucker for Gothic supernatural horror stories, whether set in ruined houses, castles or here, as in Belle Vue, a lunatic asylum (with a church and crypt added on) -so with a happy anticipatory shiver of delight I settled in with my cuppa and my cat at my feet. This is the debut novel from C.S.Alleyne, and it's published by US indie publisher, Crystal Lake. Straightaway this struck me as a confident and polished debut from Alleyne, a writer fully in charge of her complicated double time period narrative and her broad cast of characters. In fact it was hard for me to believe it was a debut! We have the current day timeline when student Claire Ryan buys an apartment in the refurbished Belle Vue apartments (formerly on the site of the derelict Victorian asylum- same name, nod here for terrific irony) and moves in, hoping for a fresh start after a family tragedy. In the mid-Victorian set alternating time line, we follow the grim story of the Grady sisters, Mary and Ellen, the latter becomes an inmate at Belle Vue, and this is when things get very dark and macabre. The full-on descriptions of life in the asylum, the brutality of the staff, their cruelty, abuse, violence as well as the depiction of how the staff jockey for power and control can be hard to stomach- this part of the story is not for the faint hearted and I had to pause at times to regroup. There is a rich well delineated cast of characters inhabiting this world, all of whom come to life with their flaws and emotions and own set of motivations. As the Victorian part of the narrative unfolds it becomes clear that the past is casting long tendrils into the twenty-first century, and the dead are not necessarily staying dead. But who is haunting who? This question isn't answered till the very end. Claire begins to change and not in a good way, and her student boyfriend, Alex, who is writing his history dissertation on the asylum struggles and ultimately fails to help her. I was really surprised and stunned by the outcome of Claire's story- which I won't reveal, but it is powerfully written. Her best friend, Marianne, moves into Belle Vue and also changes, both in character and appearance and Alex begins to investigate the history of Belle Vue and of the occult satanic Mephisto Club, its members and practices. (None of which are like Enid Blyton picnics!). The final scenes in the crypt are dazzlingly visual and macabre, and the conclusion saves a final twist for the reader leaving you wondering - is there more to come. Apparently there is - I've read on line that Alleyne is writing the next in the series and that would explain the cliffhanger ending. I for one will be up for reading the next one.
I received an e-arc from Crystal Lake in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for David.
321 reviews44 followers
September 6, 2020
There’s a great story here, but it’s told in such a messy way that it’s hard to see. Also, it appears to be the first in a series, so there’s no actual ending here—had I known that going in I probably would have skipped it.
Profile Image for Elke.
1,429 reviews39 followers
August 25, 2020
When I first saw the book, I expected some kind of victorian/gothic haunted house (or rather: asylum) story, but what I got was outright horror packed in an elaborate multilayered story line that held many unpredicted surprises. The author expertly toyed with my assumptions and every time I thought I had it figured out she came up with an unexpected twist that proved me wrong - again. What impressed me most was that while doing so everything fit together perfectly all the time and there were no sudden implausible but convenient turns of events. Still, I had no idea what I was up to right until the end, when all details fell into place to reveal the big nightmarish picture.

The story is told in alternating chapters of past and present, but which follow a similar path and finally lead towards a shared fate. All in a most thrilling and chilling way, sparing its readers not one gruesome detail while making them witness the most vile and evil deeds not only once but twice: in past and present.

As a new voice in horror, with this book C.S. Alleyne has already convinced me to add her to my list of favorite authors to watch out for. Thank you Crystal Lake for bringing this new talent to my attention and for taking me along on the tour to Belle Vue Manor. Highest recommendation!

(I chose to read and review this book, which was kindly provided as an ARC by the publisher)
Profile Image for Samantha.
236 reviews24 followers
August 5, 2020
I absolutely love stories that involve asylums. I went into “Belle Vue” ready for angry ghosts and hauntings and came out with something completely different. There is a slow burn to this book that I attribute to old English gothic tales (think Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw”) and I felt myself trudging a bit through some of it, but I felt like the overall outcome was something uniquely unsettling that I was pleased to have read.

We begin with Claire and Alex, a young couple in University going about their lives and trying to juggle their personal situations and schoolwork. It was very relatable to my own University experience and the weight of all that homework, so those parts hit the nail on the head for me. Then things start to twist as Claire suddenly finds herself in need of a place to live. A flyer for Belle Vue, a former asylum turned apartment/condo building, falls into her hands at just the right moment. There is a sense of fate and serendipity throughout the whole story that starts with this moment, doesn’t let up, and turns out to be a huge plot point by the end. As things begin to fall into place and Claire moves into Belle Vue, it seems like the life is being sucked out of her and she finds herself helpless to stop it.

The history of Belle Vue is pertinent to what Alex is already writing his dissertation on, so he begins his investigation into its past, which is riddled with mystery and malevolence that connects to a current tenant and consequently, Claire. As time goes on, Claire and Alex begin to drift apart because of what Belle Vue is doing to them, and a dark turn that I did not see coming splits them up and changes the trajectory of the story.

C.S. Alleyne’s style is to flicker from the past to the present in each chapter, so you feel like time is fluid, which contributes to the meaning of the story significantly. There are some supernatural events occurring here that defy the natural world, but they are offered in such a ‘normal’ way that it feels like a lesson in what might happen to people with too much money and power. There is seemingly no set protagonist here. We end up following quite a few different people around throughout the story and some of them were more antagonistic. I found that a bit confusing at times, but the distraction kept me wondering what would happen next.

The smooth rhythm of the writing kept me going, especially in the last chapter. I enjoyed the dreadful feeling C.S. Alleyne captured of an asylum in both the past and the present, because the ‘lunatics’ and the people wrongfully put in there were often interchangeable. It’s such a sad thing to think about. My favourite parts in the story were the descriptions of the crypts, the asylum itself, and the plight of being a student. After reading the “About the Author” section, I discovered that these are some of her favourite things too, so that would explain why she’s so good at writing about them!

A big thank you to Crystal Lake Publishing for providing Horrorbound.net an ARC copy for me to review - check out my review at Horrorbound.net coming soon!
Profile Image for Swords & Spectres.
349 reviews15 followers
August 11, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Debbie Christiana.
Author 11 books109 followers
August 25, 2020
4.5 Stars

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.
Author 7 books319 followers
September 18, 2022
The fact that this is supposed to be Alleyne's debut should make all her rival authors nervous. It certainly did when I was reading it. This would be accomplished stuff from a master with multiple bestselling novels. As is, Alleyn's is a voice that I expect to be studying and admiring for years to come.

Why? Because this book, despite some minor flaws, is a perfect example of how the Gothic brand of horror can be translated into a modern setting while retaining all the things that made it great in the gaslight era -- and, in fact, improving on some of those elements.

Not, of course, that this novel eschews the gaslight setting altogether. It simply retells one story in the gaslight era alongside a comparable story in the modern day, with nothing but the location of each story to unite them. We, as readers, are primed for the stories to intersect, and intersect they do, in a refreshingly unpredictable way, but not after Alleyne has had her fun playing with our expectations, which she does with gleeful abandon throughout the book's first half.

Because, you see, both stories seem like they're heading toward an all-too-predictable denouement. In one, our protagonist, Alex Palmer, moves in with his girlfriend Claire after she uses her sizable inheritance to purchase an apartment at the tony Belle Vue apartment building which, we are told, used to be an insane asylum before being shut down due to mistreatment of patients. At this point, anyone who has even a passing knowledge of horror can smell the ghosts a mile away and the words "Amityville Horror" will start rattling through our brains. This impression is only reinforced when we encounter the Victorian era parallel story involving Ellen Grady, who upon the death of her mother is shipped off to Belle Vue Asylum by her thoroughly unscrupulous and hateable half-sister Mary, who hopes to use Ellen's mistreatment at the same institution in order to persuade her despised younger sibling that a life of prostitution (with Mary as her madame) is preferable.

This impression only deepens as we come to root for Ellen, while also fearing for her fate at the hands of the vicious Bill Callahan - brother of Mary's intended, and head orderly at Belle Vue - and his various lackeys and enablers at the asylum. When apparitions that nakedly evoke both "The Shining" and "The Turn of the Screw" start tormenting Claire in the modern day, our suspicion that ghosts of the asylum's miserable past will drive Claire, her boyfriend, and their various friends to run screaming from Belle Vue is all but confirmed. The presence of an ominous downstairs neighbor who seems to know more than she lets on about the asylum's past, and Alex's decision to pursue the history of Belle Vue for his university dissertation, also makes a confrontation with the past inevitable, which usually screams that ghosts are involved.

But then, Alleyne completely pulls the rug out from under her readers, and reveals that while this story involves an ancient evil, it's not an evil that fits such a neat concept as a mere haunting. Moreover, she begins to introduce details about the previously one dimensional hate figure that is Mary Grady that make our heart bleed for her, even as we fear for what she might do to poor Ellen. Meanwhile, in the present day, our protagonists are confronted with a thoroughly unexpected and horrifying tragedy that completely reshapes not just their lives, but also our experience as readers, as we find our allegiances to characters shifting as rapidly as the plot does. It's the kind of blindsiding of the reader that one would expect from the likes of George RR Martin, albeit with an aesthetic that is more HP Lovecraft by way of Roman Polanski. And, if you are convinced by the various conceits within the novel, it will hit you like a freight train and keep you reading, enticed by just who will come out on top in the end.

The book is not perfect, of course. The modern day sections, especially in the middle of the book, feel like a chore to read through given their slower pace, occasional bloat, and comparative stylistic clumsiness, as compared with the lean, mean, and propulsive 19th century story which kicks into high gear long before Alex and his various benighted associates realize the danger they are in. What is more, the book suffers somewhat for making all its modern day protagonists mercurial and dubiously likable, which has the effect of turning them more into the kind of victims you see in slasher films than in Gothic horror: in short, the kind of people whose suffering the audience is indifferent to, if not pleased to see. Moreover, some of the characters in both stories verge on cartoonish in their lack of redeeming qualities, and the characterization of Mary simply remains too stubbornly vicious for her tragic backstory to make up for it in the long run. One could, in short, be forgiven for not caring about the major players in the story because most of them are not particularly sympathetic people. And, of course, there is the small matter that the mechanics of the book's supernatural elements don't have the rules of how they work clearly defined, and occasionally become confusing as a result. To say more would be to invite spoilers.

But, at worst, these flaws would knock half a star off of what is otherwise a masterful exercise in Gothic melodrama. There simply are too many things done right, and too many clever references to history and past works of horror, for this book not to be considered a treasure. At a glance, it most obviously invokes "Melmoth the Wanderer," as well as HP Lovecraft's "The Thing on the Doorstep" and "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward." The novel's claustrophobia, fatalism, and use of the infernal as a source of psychological horror also invoke "The Exorcist" and "Rosemary's Baby," while the 18th century sections have notes from both "Justine" and "Juliet" by the Marquis de Sade. I don't mean to give the impression that the novel is a scrapbook of other people's ideas -- it isn't, at all. Rather, it invokes elements of these other stories in the service of a story whose ambition is far grander, as evidenced by the fact that Alleyne appears to be presently working on the sequel which this book already cries out for.

I could go on. I could mention the brutal and yet entirely tasteful way in which Alleyne handles violence, or the humanity she can breathe into even her most loathsome antagonists when writing from their point of view, not to mention her absolutely seamless use of epistolary writing to lend elements of the narrative a historiographical feel. I could go on, but I won't. This review's long enough. For now, all I will say is that if you yearn for a return to Gothic horror at its most pessimistic, this is the book for you. It deserves to be read, and admired, for years to come. Just as I will do with CS Alleyne's future work.
Profile Image for Kia.
132 reviews58 followers
August 24, 2020
Belle Vue is the debut novel of C.S. Alleyne, and damn, what a debut it is! It starts out with a scene that perfectly sets the tone for the rest of book, and you know right away this story is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. Alternating timelines work together to tell the history of Belle Vue and the present day story of Claire, her boyfriend, Alex, and their assorted friends and acquaintances after Claire moves into Belle Vue, a former Victorian lunatic asylum converted to luxury apartments (because that never goes wrong, right?). In the flashback chapters, we learn of the horrific events at Belle Vue before and during its time as an asylum, and in the present day chapters, we see the ongoing fallout of those events. I don't want to spoil anything, but suffice to say everything (and I do mean everything) happening in the present has its roots deep in the past.

Alleyne does an amazing job of world building and knows how to write a scene in all its graphic, gory glory, while still leaving just enough to the imagination to somehow make it even more horrifying. The book is unsettling, at times nauseating (in a good way!), and ultimately quite sad, when you stop and think about it. There's honestly not a likable character in the book, but Alleyne's writing ability is such that even though you kind of hate everyone, you become very invested in finding out what happens to them. I hope like hell she's writing a sequel, because this book definitely deserves one.

I received an e-arc from Crystal Lake in exchange for an honest review.
2 reviews
September 2, 2020

I loved Power by C S Alleyne but that was only a novelette so far too short. Now I’ve got a whole novel and for me that was even better! The 2 storylines - Victorian and present day - are riveting. As with Power it’s dark, powerful and sweeps you along but this time not quite as gory! The twists surprised me and I didn’t want it to end. A real page turner and very creepy. 5 stars.

Profile Image for James Priestley.
74 reviews11 followers
January 22, 2021
I received a complimentary copy of Belle View from the author and am leaving a voluntary and honest review.

As a debut novel, Belle Vue is a tour de force; a clichéd term, perhaps, but apposite! C.S. Alleyne has written an exemplary supernatural, macabre tale full of suspense and devilishly clever plot twists. This is an ambitious first novel that remained strong throughout, drawing me towards a climactic ending that held my attention and fuelled my imagination. There is much material that is not suitable for the more squeamish or prudish of readers; this is not a critique of the author, but on the contrary, something meriting praise for the bold and non-apologetic approach she has taken. It is clear from the narrative that the author undertook extensive research, resulting in two rich and believable worlds that ran in tandem throughout the book.

On the less than desirable side - for me at least - was the intrusive promotional material from the author's publisher, Crystal Lake Publishing, which I found excessive in amount. Also, although the editing and proofreading appeared to have been most competently undertaken, there were overlaying sub-title text problems at the beginning of chapters, both for the Victorian Belle Vue Lunatic Asylum chapters and present day chapters - an error that should not have made it to print. [Addendum - Since my original comments (above) about formatting errors, the author has kindly contacted me and reminded me she had sent me an uncorrected proof three months before the book's publication; the errors were removed before going to press. I am happy to be corrected!].

Further, I did not care for the font used for the titles and drop cap letters; or for the ornate scroll effect choice under the chapter titles; or the choice for ornamental breaks. I appreciate that the latter is a continuation of part of the book's cover design, but in my mind it seemed a little amateurish on the book's interior. So too was the book's title and author's name, which clashed oddly on the title page even though they had worked well enough on the cover.

Lastly, what excellent and original cover art by Michael J. Canalaes! Richly ornate, sombre and entirely memorable - although the inverted image of what is undoubtedly meant to be the Belle View Lunatic Asylum looks more like the Louis XIV hunting lodge before he turned it into the Palace of Versailles! Regardless, the composition works well!

All-in-all, an excellent book that richly deserves praise. Is there a sequel in mind, perhaps?
July 31, 2020
Belle Vue connects its imperfect past to the present day in a spine tingling account of spectral spookiness. Invocating immersive story telling, the reader feels the full range of emotions, heightened by C.S. Alleyne's vivid and sensual writing style. This is Victorian horror at its finest - so leave a light on.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
283 reviews4 followers
December 22, 2020
So I read this in the dark before bed, and well let's just say that I feel that is the only way you should read a horror book. From the prologue you quickly realize the type of horror that Belle Vue will be bringing and it sets the tone for the entire book. There is no build up in this book so there's no waiting and disappointment when you get to these scenes.

This book does take place during two different times, one is the late 1800s and shows Mary and Ellen's POV. The other takes place in the present and has Alex and Claire's POV. You don't have to worry about this as Alleyne makes it easy to know who you're reading and when. This book does have a couple of twists that I didn't see coming and really took the story to another level.

As far as the characters go, I really didn't connect to the characters. I actually found them to be a little unlikable, but it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book. There was a confusing scene however, that two characters are pitted against each other, but neither characters were good so I didn't understand who I was supposed to support.

The ending was great and really kept me on the edge of my seat, I don't want to give away too much of the scene but it was so well written. I was pretty much right there, experiencing everything along with the character and I didn't want the book to end. Alleyne's writing is just so good, and really turns the horror and it's typical cliches on its head.

Overall, if you're a horror-aficionado this book is for you.

*A Thank you to the author for allowing me to read this for an honest and unbiased review*
Profile Image for Lisa Lee.
402 reviews26 followers
December 14, 2020
First, foremost, and most important: I Love This Story. It is so much more than the trite synopsis alludeds to. I enjoyed the premise, the plot, the characters, the suspense, and the writing style. The switch between past and present was challenging only the few times I failed to properly read the chapter heading, so be sure you give it more than a passing glance. Otherwise, I found the technique built tension and suspense in a darkly delightful way.

Alleyne uses rich and vivid characterization, bringing the characters to stark, evocative life. The sequences range from thought-provoking to bold to brutal with excellent flow, making it a very compelling story. The author combines numerous horror elements with the suspense and tension of a thriller and does so very well to create a story with some delightful uniqueness.

I have seen this book described as horror thriller, dark thriller, gothic horror, dark fantasy (no, it’s not), and paranormal thriller. This range of perception speaks to how complex and engrossing and encompassing this story is. It clearly speaks to a wide range of readers. It spoke to me on many levels.

This shelf-worthy book skillfully blends subgenres and is highly recommended for readers who want a solid horror-thriller level story that pushes boundaries without crossing over into extreme horror.
Profile Image for Tabatha Shipley.
Author 12 books72 followers
September 15, 2020
What I Did Like:
-The epilogue. Easily the best part of the entire book, this epilogue ends with a BANG. It’s absolutely a PERFECT ending to this story.
-The second half of the book moves quickly and brings epic levels of intensity. I like the speed of this half, I like the way it unwinds the previous clues into something that makes sense.
-Solid mystery in the old tale. Trying to piece together which characters you could trust and which you could’t was satisfying.
-The setting. This one is set in an old house with a huge history. A house that is going to take the stage as one of the characters in this book, perhaps the most important one.

Who Should Read This One:
-I got major Ghost Ship vibes from this one. If you liked that movie, give this book a chance.
-Fans of gothic horror novels where the setting is almost like a character.

My Rating: 4 Stars. I struggled with how to rate this one, but at the end of the day the ending was highly satisfying and means this one will appeal to horror fans.

For Full Review (including what I didn’t love): https://youtu.be/esKRigcBZRY
October 5, 2020
I liked this book, particulary the way the story switched between two periods in time, the Victorian era and the present day. My own preference wouuld have been to start in todays time zone and then gone back to the 1860`s but apart from this point, the author moved the story between the time periods really well and that made it an interesting read.

The way the story alterenated on a chapter by chapter basis had you wanting to get into the other time period at the end of every chapter and this was done well.

One of the murder scenes was horrific but it reminded you that life was considered cheap for the unfortunate poor in Victorian times. The story provided a good insight as to how bad the conditions were in the 1800`s for inhabitants of asylums which seemed to be a cross between hospitals and prisons. The author has reserached these institutions well

Hope the author does a follow up to Belle Vue

As a male reader it was easy to connect with Alex and his friends and the author protrayed this well
Profile Image for Julia Lewis.
Author 13 books42 followers
July 2, 2020
Belle Vue is a book that I won’t soon forget. The atmosphere is excellent, and so are the jumps between the different time settings.

I have always loved reading about old asylums, and C.S. Alleyne did an amazing job in making me feel as if I was part of the story. You can tell she did a lot of research to make it all seem real.

The horror elements in this book are gory and gruesome. Just as us horror fans like it. It is hard to read at times, but only because you feel for the characters after a certain point. There are also some characters you will learn to truly despise, and rightly so! The author sure knows how to develop villains.

Even though it took me a while to read, this book is a page turner! I recommend it highly!

I received a copy of this book from the author herself in exchange for an honest review.
1 review
September 15, 2020
Can’t believe this is a debut novel. It is a dark, thrilling roller coaster where just when you think you have sussed it out there is a new twist! I loved the alternating time periods so we see Belle Vue as a Manor House for the evil Duc de Montalt, as a lunatic asylum in the 1860s and in the present day when it has been converted into luxury apartments. The historical tendrils are long and the consequences to Alex, Claire and Marianne are unexpected and devastating. Would love to see this on the screen! Looking forward to the next book by this author and hope it’s soon!
2 reviews
July 24, 2021
I couldn't put this book down. It really draws you into it's reality. Very descriptive, twisty, haunting in parts. I almost felt like I was there. Can't wait for another book!
Profile Image for Theresa Derwin.
774 reviews28 followers
August 27, 2020
Asylums, Sadistic Killers and Vengeance Games

Belle Vue

Author: C S Alleyne 

Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing

Page count: 320pp

Release date: 25th Aug 2020

TW: Sexual assault and mental health issues

The prologue of this novel starts in at a place formerly known as 1869 in Belle Vue Lunatic Asylum.

Very bad things happened at this place, including sexual assault on inmates such as young Ellen, by Callahan, a man meant to protect them. Instead, he thrives on using a now broken, yellowed out version of the girl, with cracked skin.

He loved to prey on the weak.

Present Day

Claire Ryan, suddenly homeless, finds a brochure for the restored former Belle Vue Manor; exquisite Victoriana meets modern property. After the death of her parents, strange events in Hong Kong and her own breakdown, she needs a place of her own.

Despite knowing it’s a former asylum, and her friend Marianne’s reservations, Claire thinks Belle Vue is perfect. And her boyfriend Alex Palmer agrees, excited by the prospect of using the former asylum for his dissertation.

Combining part historical narrative about Ellen and half sister Mary, weaved with Claire, Alex and Marianne at the contemporary restored Belle Vue, the novel is a creepy, visceral murder mystery surrounding the paranormal.

Alex becomes almost obsessed with the history of the asylum in the Nineteenth century and theories on mental health issues. Amidst the dark parts, are amusing anecdotes and stories he finds, such as why people were incarcerated back then, one such 'symptom ' was "Sudden loss of several cows." Yep . ..

Contrary to this humorous view, in the historical parts of the book, Alleyne shows us the true horrific nature of lunatic asylums and the treatment of mental illness back then.

Debauchery, abuse, beatings and worse.

Of course it’s no surprise that women are the ones predominantly used and abused here.

All were part of this ‘medical’ institute.

Further flashbacks to Mary in 1862 portray even worse horrors as we see where her friend Nancy disappeared to.

This is grim, gruesome and when it comes to the Nineteenth Century scenes, regrettably realistic. As a PGDip recipient of research into this period, I can confirm the research Alleyne has done is top notch, and all the more horrific for it.

It is a clever, painful puzzle that Alex and the reader must solve at the same time. 

A blistering tale of vengeance, true evil and the power of money and status.

Profile Image for Paige.
283 reviews32 followers
August 20, 2020
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

TW: Rape, abuse, physical harm, mental illnesses

Belle Vue starts quick, and shockingly. It sets the tone for the rest of the book and how dark, disturbing and violent it stays. It's definitely not a book for the faint hearted, and keeps you glued to the page the entire time.

I don't think any of the characters are particularly likeable, and some just get worse the further into the book you go. I oddly thought Claire was the protagonist, so not only did I get some surprises but I was pretty surprised to learn that it's actually Alex who is blurbed as our main character. At first I thought he was pretty flat. He seemed to be only there to give background information about the asylum and to either be constantly drunk or having sex with Claire. But, he has a pretty great scene at the end that was particularly great!

I think I missed a super important name somewhere. Because it threw a name out as someone super important and essentially who the story revolves around as the bad guy. But for the life of me I couldn't remember who they are. (But please remember I'm fairly useless with names so that might very well be a me problem). I would have loved to see that character again or been given a little bit more context about how the fit into the modern day, just to jog my (sometimes lacking) memory.

I desperately wanted to know what was going to happen next. It really kept me glued to the page and crafting my own theories from the get go. Which I love doing and I really didn't guess where it was going, which was a great surprise!

This book will keep you hooked.
Profile Image for Kevin L.
436 reviews10 followers
September 11, 2021
Serviceable but generally uninspiring horror. I hated Alex and couldn’t connect with Claire who just so passive that I had a hard time even feeling bad for her.

There were some bits that were good, but when you don’t care about or like the characters it’s hard to get invested in the story.
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