Series: Dollhouse #1
Published by The Studio, a Paper Lantern Lit imprint on September 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Amazon • Amazon UK
Four teenagers chance across a mysterious, crumbling mansion in the depths of the mountains....
- One of them is about to vanish.
- One of them is lying about what he or she knows.
- None of them will escape the fate awaiting them in the terrifying Dollhouse beneath the old mansion--a place of nightmarish horrors and insanity.
A slow-burn nightmare, a world of supernatural darkness and strange secrets.
Six months ago, fifteen-year-old Cassie Claiborne reluctantly moved from her home in Florida with her social worker mom. In her new home--a remote, mountainous Australian town, Cassie meets new friends--Aisha Dumaj, Ethan McAllister and Lacey Dougherty.
For the first time, Cassie falls in love. The only problem is that the boy she falls for is her friend, Ethan--and he and Aisha are already an item. When Cassie goes on a school hike to Devils Hole with her new friends, she tries desperately to keep her feelings for Ethan secret.
Aisha disappears on the hike without a trace--with the police believing she was murdered.
When Cassie, Ethan and Lacey return to the mountains to search for Aisha--Cassie begins to realize she never really knew any of her friends. Everyone has their own secrets. She discovers the stranger lurking inside everyone she thought she knew.
The darkest secret of all waits beneath the old mansion in the mountains--a secret from which there is no escape....
When I first saw the cover of Dollhouse on Netgalley I was instantly attracted to it – it was so different to many YA covers out there. I then realised that the book was by an Australian author and my mind was made up I wanted to read this book! I started reading this book with no expectations, I knew nothing about the story though I had gathered it was going to have a gothic horror vibe to it. I wasn’t disappointed, while the book had some issues it definitely carried off the mysterious spooky vibe brilliantly.
The story centres around main character Cassie who along some of her classmates get caught up in the mystery of the Australian bush where many girls have disappeared over time. Cassie’s best friend Aisha goes missing right under their noses while hiking and taking photo’s for a school project. Aisha’s boyfriend (and Cassie’s crush), Ethan gets blamed for her disappearance, so Cassie, Ethan along with Lacey decide to investigate a creepy mansion they discovered near where she disappeared. Things start to go downhill for them when they discover a hidden entrance filled with carousels and end up caught in a mysterious web of disturbing secrets when they find what lies beneath the mansion.
It’s really hard to write this review without giving away too much of the story. As I mentioned before the author pulls off the gothic horror theme beautifully, unfortunately though the actual plot was at times overly complicated and pacing a bit all over the place. This coupled with some poor character development is why I’ve chosen to only give the book 2.5 star rating.
The pacing of the book was what I had the biggest issue with. It started out well and I couldn’t put it down, then there was a large part in the middle of the book that just really dragged and I found a lot of the story to be a bit repetitive and mundane. I also felt that there were some very large climatic things that were just brushed over towards the end in a rush while other parts that weren’t particularly interesting or important seemed to get a lot more attention.
The characters weren’t particularly likeable and also quite two dimensional – they all annoyed me at times though Cassie particularly did things often that just irritated me beyond belief. There is no real romance in this book, while Cassie and Ethan clearly like each other she falls for him before the story starts and the chemistry isn’t particularly great though it probably doesn’t help that Ethan is dating someone else for the majority of the book.
A lot of very interesting lore is dished out towards the end of the story and I really enjoyed this and want to find out more, the author also ended the book on a major cliffhanger so I think I will be picking up the remainder of the series just to get answers for all the questions marks I now have. I have high hopes that this book was setting the stage for some great things.
– Totally creepy but the story pacing is erratic