The Doll Factory (Publication Date: August 2019)
The Doll Factory, the debut novel by Elizabeth Macneal, is an intoxicating story of art, obsession and possession.
London. 1850. The Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and among the crowd watching the spectacle two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that 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, to become a place of art and love.
But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening . . .
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This was one of those books that makes you resent doing anything that requires you to put it down for even a few minutes. Work, dinner, speaking… you know, basically real life stuff. I was completely enthralled with this story!
This Dickensian Gothic starts with poor Iris slaving away in a china doll shop (see dolls, scary already.), alongside her twin sister Rose. Both women possess unique artistic abilities but Iris is the real star, a painter who wants nothing more than the freedom to be an artist. Sadly, she is a prisoner of her own life until fate and circumstance intervene.
Once, Iris has a true taste of freedom, nothing will stop her but there is someone watching her every move. Someone who wants to keep her under glass, preserved like some kind of specimen, and they will stop at nothing to possess her.
Everything about this book gave me goosebumps! It was eerie and dark, with beautiful writing and the most interesting characters. The characters in particular made this book stand out for me because they were just so tragic!
I was a bit surprised when I read some of the reviews circulating, not because readers didn’t like it, but because they didn’t seem to love it as much as I did. Many 4 star reviews, but not as many 5 stars as I would have predicted. At any rate, I loved it and truly feel it was deserving of 5 stars! It’s hard to believe this is the author’s debut. I would never have guessed had I not known ahead of time.
Really the only thing I have left to say about this beautifully gruesome novel, is which cover do you prefer? The original, or the new edition? I love the original pre-publication cover! So stunning!
*Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review!