Monday, August 19, 2019

Review: The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

Title: The Doll Factory
Author: Elizabeth Macneal
Published: August 2019, Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Publisher

Obsession is an art.

In this “sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art, and obsession” (Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train), a beautiful young woman aspires to be an artist, while a man’s dark obsession may destroy her world forever.

In 1850s London, the Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and, among the crowd watching the dazzling spectacle, two people meet by happenstance. For Iris, an arrestingly attractive aspiring artist, it is a brief and forgettable moment but for Silas, a curiosity collector enchanted by all things strange and beautiful, the meeting marks a new beginning.

When Iris is asked to model for Pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly, her world begins to expand beyond her wildest dreams—but she has no idea that evil is waiting in the shadows. Silas has only thought of one thing since that chance meeting, and his obsession is darkening by the day.

“A page-turning psychological thriller” (Essie Fox, author of The Somnambulist) that will haunt you long after you finish it, The Doll Factory is perfect for fans of The Alienist, Drood, and The Historian.

My thoughts:  I was ecstatic to be able to pick up this gem at BookExpo this past Spring. As soon as I saw that this was going to be a galley drop, it was added to my list of must-get books and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it...part historical fiction, part gothic thriller - that sounds right up my alley!

Can we just take a moment to admire this cover? I have to say this is what originally drew me to this book and then I read the synopsis, I knew I had to read it. I love books set in Victorian London and I felt that the author really does a great job with the sense of place and time. Having watched the most recent season of Victoria, I am quite familiar with all the excitement that The Great Exhibition garnered and I could appreciate that in this book. 

I loved the darkness and creepiness of this book. Obsession can take many forms and we see it go horribly wrong in the way Silas takes to Iris. Their meeting is incredibly brief yet has completely different results for the two of them - Iris will completely forget about the meeting and yet for Silas, it is the beginning of his obsession with her. He is determined to have her and will go to great lengths to make that happen. It was downright creepy just how delusional he becomes in this obsession.

I loved the slow burn of this book. The tension and the suspense gradually build and it is so rich in atmosphere that you can't help but be swept up in the story. Yes, it is dark and disturbing at times, but it is such a deliciously wicked and intriguing story of obsession and art and I felt the streets of Victorian London really come alive. The cast of characters are wonderfully developed and all add to the richness of the story.

I absolutely loved this book - from start to finish I was completely captivated and entranced. This was a remarkable debut novel and I cannot wait to see what Elizabeth Macneal writes next!


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