The Doll Factory
by Elizabeth Macneal
Release date: August 13th, 2019
” a dark, atmospheric work of gothic historical fiction which chills and thrills right to the very end…”
In this debut novel from Elizabeth Macneal we get a dark, atmospheric work of gothic historical fiction which chills and thrills right to the very end. Wonderfully written with uniquely written characters and an accurate interpretation of 1850’s London The Doll Factory takes dark unrequited love and obsession to a new level.
Our protagonist Iris and her sister, Rose work in a Doll shop for the cruel and intolerant Mrs Salter. Their life is monotonous to poor Iris who finds painting dolls to be stifling especially when her true desire is to become one of the first respected female artists of the time. Iris feels it necessary to hide her artwork from the prying eyes of Mrs Salter and her sister Rose. Rose after being scarred severely by smallpox, becomes jealous and often cruel to her sister after she loses her fiancé due to her looks. One day through a young street urchin, Albie, Iris meets taxidermist and curiosity shop owner, Silas. At first glance, Silas is besotted with her and his life becomes built around his disturbing obsession with Iris, creating a fantasy about her and their ‘perfect’ future together. When Iris gets an opportunity to model and be tutored by an up and coming artist, the handsome and debonair Louis Frost, things seem to be turning around for her but Louis is distraught by the news. Louis who a client of Silas, often purchasing taxidermy animals as models for his work has treated Silas poorly, playing cruel pranks on him which Silas will not forget. Despite being disowned by her sister and parents for choosing a profession not becoming of a lady, Iris decides to quit her job and follow her dreams. When Silas sees how closed she is becoming to Louis his obsession takes a dangerous turn.
Very dark and disturbing this book might not be for everyone however if you can bet past certain parts it is brilliantly written with well-crafted characters and finishes off with an unexpected but satisfying ending.