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Anya Allyn enjoys fiction that is a little on the dark side. Also, she enjoys Black Forest Cake just a little too much. She lives by the beach with her children in a lovely little part of Australia, and would love to sail the world on a yacht (only she gets terribly sea-sick).
The Dollhouse books are a serial. Book #1 was released in May 2014 by Paper Lantern Lit (Lauren Oliver and Lexa Hillyer). The books that continue on from this first novel will be released in 2014.
The original Dollhouse set went off-sale in May 2014. If you read the original book #1. and would like to read on with the original series, you can find the books here: http://anyaallyn.com/faq/the-original-dollhouse-books/
Anya Allyn's Doll House begins with a suspenseful, teasing prologue about a trio of youngsters exploring an underground passage in search of their missing forth member. I'll admit to a distinct fondness for the 'in medas res' beginning and in this case it was executed perfectly; the setting and delicately woven prose caught my attention right away, and I could tell within a few pages that I was going to like this story. The prologue was neither too short nor too long... just long enough to grab you and drag you in and no longer. Right in the Goldilocks zone and with a spoonful of delicious plot teases to keep me interested.
So, my appetite whet, I started this novel cautious but impressed and, just like the three kids in the prologue, I began my journey into the Doll House.
The first chapter cuts back to an earlier time and there was a distinct, but subtle, mood shift here. Now we were watching through a somewhat jealous schoolgirl's eyes as the boy of her dreams asks out someone else. Now things started to get a little... worrying. I'm a "oh God thirty is coming" male and I write sci-fi with heaps of swearing, so I kind of prefer that kind of thing when I read. Getting into the head of a fifteen year old schoolgirl is fairly difficult for me, but I felt Doll House made it easy. The prose in this section was very impressive, an improvement over even the already excellent prologue, so my looming fears that I was going to become bored were swiftly waylaid. In fact, if anything, I felt Anya found her stride in this first chapter which meant my reviewer brain rose to the challenge and kicked into brutal mode.
Because of my preference towards swearing, violence and aliens I tend to cut Young Adult authors a fair bit of slack when I review.Read more ›
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As I said before...Dang! I received this as an ARC from the author. She warned me it was going to be dark and a bit scary, and having read many a scary book I wasn't bothered. I should say I wasn't bothered until I was reading, the house was quiet, the story got really moving and I kept hearing the "bumps" in the night! Instead of putting down until daylight, I hunkered in and kept on going, because this was a glorious carnival ride of fun!
The setting is Australia, Barrington Tops, New South Wales. Think lush forests and lots of water. A group of friends get together and work on a school project that should best their peers efforts. One goes missing, one gets fingers pointed at him, and two don't know which way is up or down. They all end up, some months later, back out in the forest looking for her. Now this is where things get creepy. I really don't want to say too much because I don't want to give the story away, but the creepy carnival feel comes out in full effect. Supersize dolls that move on their own, painted doll faces, oversize furniture, underground rooms, missing girls, dark rooms, and paranormal creepiness. The ending will have your jaw dropping too.
This is book one in the Doll House trilogy, which is interesting, because this book could work as a standalone. I can't wait to see where the author, Anya Allyn, goes with her story. For more information, check out the Doll House website at dollhousetrilogy.com.
Frequently when I don't like a book I can see why it wasn't a good fit for me and I know who it might be a good fit for instead. This was not one of those books.
I read a lot of reviews before buying this so I knew the beginning would drag, but it turns out the dragging never stops. I only even finished because I paid for the book and wasn't gonna waste the 99 cents.
Even knowing about the pacing problems, I went in for the creepy factor. The dollhouse premise (or what I thought was the premise) appealed to me. Unfortunately the supernatural elements were drowned under the monotony of dollhouse life and the very real dangers of malnutrition and starvation, leaving the story severely lacking in substance. There was so much that could have been used well - the circus relics, the underground atmosphere - but anything worth describing was described once and then left alone.
People have praised the writing but the best prose in the world (which this certainly wasn't, though I admit it had its moments) can't overcome the constant spelling and grammar errors in Dollhouse. They were the kind I could look past if it happened once or even a handful of times but I don't think I made it through two pages without running into one.
There was also nothing to make me see why this particular narrator was chosen. What makes her so special that she's the one to hinge the story on? I imagine, based on a couple of clumsily delivered clues, that's what the second book is for but I really don't care - not about the story and definitely not about the heroine. She started off unlikeable and only faded as a character instead of growing.
If you're looking for a creepy, living-doll story this is not it. If you're looking for a story with dull characterization and a nonsensical premise with supernatural elements clumsily slapped on, then by all means buy this.
One huge pet peeve of mine is the trend towards authors not finishing their books before they publish them. It irks me so much I won't read any other works by an author who does that. Authors, take note: many of us do not appreciate a "bait" book that requires us to buy more books to finish the story you felt you didn't need to end before starting the next installment. I don't mind a cliffhanger, but you MUST have an appropriate conclusion for EACH book. I won't even comment on the rest of the "novel.". Just... Don't waste your time. Gah. What's the point?
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