Originally published on my old blog on 05.08.2018
I picked this book up out of my local library a few weeks ago, and I’m afraid I’ve been that person who has renewed and renewed and renewed, because I just haven’t got around to reading it.
Finally, I got around to it yesterday. I sat down and read the whole thing in about two hours – I was definitely sucked in. It’s startlingly creepy, with a truly excellent set of dolls. Half of them are locked in a glass cabinet, the other half are plastered into the walls, and all of them are horrible. That being said, they pale in comparison to the true villain of the book, which I won’t spoil by revealing!
While the horror aspect of this book definitely worked for me, with the dolls pressurising some female characters to do ever more awful things, I just couldn’t quite enjoy the book as much as I wanted to.
I think a lot of this has to do with the choice of narrator. Our main character comes into the house of horrors from outside, visiting step-cousins, but it feels like the narrator should be one of the cousins herself. Lilias, the youngest, would be my top choice—she has been dealing with these horrible dolls, a phobia of bones and her dysfunctional family for a lot longer, and I can’t help feeling like framing the story from her point of view would have been much more effective. That might just be me, though. I love a messy family with deep-seated and unaddressed issues.
The author has a great writing style, very easy to read and without any distracting frills. I’d love to see her tackle another horror story and really get into the deeper psychological elements. In Lilias she had a great character, and I hope she’ll write another story from the point of view of a character more like her, rather than the “mainstream” cousin who joins the story what is effectively well over halfway through.
I’d recommend this for fans of horror, especially those who loved Goosebumps when they were younger and want to find something a little older to get stuck into.
Be warned: the book contains some very dark and violent themes, including descriptions of cats being maimed and killed horribly and a little girl being murdered.