Title: The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story
Author: Charis Cotter
Genre: Middle Grade, Horror, Fantasy
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: August 31, 2021
A creepy, mysterious dollhouse takes center stage in this atmospheric middle-grade mystery for fans of Doll Bones and Small Spaces.
Alice’s world is falling apart. Her parents are getting a divorce, and they’ve cancelled their yearly cottage trip — the one thing that gets Alice through the school year. Instead, Alice and her mom are heading to some small town where Alice’s mom will be a live-in nurse to a rich elderly lady.
The house is huge, imposing and spooky, and everything inside is meticulously kept and perfect — not a fun place to spend the summer. Things start to get weird when Alice finds a dollhouse in the attic that’s an exact replica of the house she’s living in. Then she wakes up to find a girl asleep next to her in her bed — a girl who looks a lot like one of the dolls from the dollhouse . . .
When the dollhouse starts to change when Alice isn’t looking, she knows she has to solve the mystery. Who are the girls in the dollhouse? What happened to them? And what is their connection to the mean and mysterious woman who owns the house?
When she finishes school for the year, Alice finds out her parents are getting divorced and they’ve cancelled their yearly summer cottage vacation. Instead, Alice and her mother travel to a small town so that her mom can be a live-in nurse for an elderly lady, Mrs. Bishop. Alice becomes friends with Lily, a developmentally delayed girl, who visits the home while her mother cleans it. The girls find a dollhouse in the attic that’s a perfect replica of that house. When Alice goes to sleep that night, she wakes up in a dream with a girl next to her. In her dream, she sees a family who lived in that house from the 1920s, and who look just like the dolls from the dollhouse. Then, things in the dollhouse change when Alice isn’t there. Alice has to figure out what the connection is between her dreams and the dollhouse.
This was a really creepy story. There were many similarities between Alice’s story and the story from the past in her dreams. There were train accidents in both stories. Alice’s friend Lily was developmentally delayed, and a girl named Bubbles was the same in her dream. The dollhouse was also an important aspect of the stories. Alice discovered it hidden away in the present storyline, but it was just being built in her dreams. Since the two storylines were quite similar, it was a little disorienting sometimes to figure out what was happening.
There were some more mature themes than I expected in a children’s book. Alice was concerned about her parents getting divorced. In her dream, her friend Fizz was also afraid of her parents getting divorced, and she caused a rift between them. There were also references to alcohol abuse and the death of family members. These mature themes increased the tension in the story.
The Dollhouse is a creepy ghost story.
Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Screech!: Ghost Stories from Old Newfoundland by Charis Cotter
Have you read The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story? What did you think of it?