The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter
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?
Somewhere in the back of my mind, this reminded me of a set of books I used to read in school. There were three children: Biff, Chip, and Kipper, and they had a magic key that would glow and suck them into an old dollhouse and the children would have magical adventures. Does anyone remember those? The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story reminded me slightly of that, only with a much eerier vibe.
Alice and her mom move into an old Georgian house, where her mom is going to work as a nurse and caretaker to elderly Mrs Bishop. The house seems perfectly normal at first, but when Alice falls asleep things start to happen. Is she dreaming or is it something else? Alice is curious, and eager to discover the secrets hidden inside the house, and the mystery of the dollhouse that lives in the attic.
The story is sufficiently creepy, and constantly had me wondering just what was going on, and what would happen next. At times it felt like I had the answers and then something else would happen to make me question it. And I will admit that not one of my guesses turned out to be correct.
The one thing I will say about this book is that although it is a middle grade, I personally did find it to be a little creepy. I don’t think I’m an easily spooked person but this did manage it. And as the mother of an almost 8 year old, I would want to wait until she is quite a bit older before I attempt to read this with her as I know that some of the themes and scenes would terrify her and she would most definitely have nightmares. One of the main themes of this book is death, and while she is not a stranger to that, it is also not a theme she is currently able to handle in her books.
All that being said, the imagination that brings the story to life is quite special. The voice of the narrator, Alice, really does pull you in and make you feel like you are experiencing it right along with her. The mystery really is solved as Alice discovers pieces of information, and everything unfolds gradually.
Do you like creepy stories? Tell me your faves in the comments!
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free ARC copy of The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story to read and review.