Review: Dollhouse by Anya Allyn

While searching for a missing friend in the mountains of Australia, Cassie and her two friends stumble upon a passage beneath the mansion of a rich recluse and heir to a crumbling circus empire. They discover strange, ancient carousels, decrepit pipe organs, and rooms filled with odd, life-sized dolls.

But upon closer look, they aren’t dolls at all, but people, forced to dress and paint their faces to appear like dolls. Forced to play games with a tiny, half-mad little girl. Forced. And trapped.

Because there is no way out of this passage, this garish nightmare dollhouse. Cassie’s lost friend isn’t dead. Yet. But now they may all die together.

There. Okay. That’s what the book’s about. If you like stuff like that, you’ll like this. The current description is kind of misleading. Make no mistake. This is a horror book. It’s disturbing and creepy. It’s a book about being trapped and frightened and terrorized. It’s intense. So pick this up if that’s what you’re looking for.

The first time I tried to read Dollhouse, I got about 10% into the book before I got bored. Then I read a review of it somewhere that said something about big creepy dolls, and I picked it back up again. This time I made it to about 16% before I put it down, because nothing. was. happening.

The third time I picked it up, I muscled through until suddenly, the book got absolutely freaking awesome. Like, I was white-knuckling my kindle and responding to anyone who dared disturb me with, “Not now.”

Augh. This was sooo good. I just wish that the first 20% of the book wasn’t there. I wish it would have started with them finding the shed, and that everything else was explained in flashbacks or briefly. Also, I’m not sure what purpose the character of Lacey even served. Will she show up in the sequel? SPOILERS Is she actually dead? /SPOILERS

Beyond that, I was absolutely entranced and drawn in. This is one of the best YA books I’ve read this year. I absolutely loved it, and I definitely recommend you check it out. Sooo good. God. It will make your hair stand up on the back of your neck. You’ll want to read it with the lights on. And you won’t be able to put it down. I’m on my way to try to see if Allyn’s got a mailing list, because I need the sequel like yesterday, and I want to know the very second it comes out.