Genre: YA, Paranormal, Mystery
Released on: September 2012 *new Kindle edition available May 20th, 2014 by Paper Lantern Lit Imprint
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Dress-up turns deadly. . . When Cassie’s best friend, Aisha, disappears during a school hike, Cassie sets off with Aisha’s boyfriend Ethan and their best friend Lacey, determined to find her. But the mist-enshrouded mountains hold many secrets, and what the three teens discover is far more disturbing than any of them imagined: beneath a rundown mansion in the woods lies an underground cavern full of life-size toys and kidnapped girls forced to dress as dolls. Even as Cassie desperately tries to escape the Dollhouse, she finds herself torn between her forbidden feelings for Ethan, and her intense, instinctive attraction to The Provider, a man Cassie swears she has known before… Because Cassie’s capture wasn’t accidental, and the Dollhouse is more than just a prison where her deepest fears come true—it’s a portal for the powers of darkness. And Cassie may be the only one who can stop it.
I first want to start by saying that I recieved a kindle edition of this book from the wonderful folks at Paper Lantern Lit, a great organization I’ve had the pleasure of working with for almost two years now. They sent me a copy in exchange for an honest review, so, here it is.
I was so surprised by this book. Most of the ARCs I recieve from PLL just don’t seem to hit home for me. They ususally fall flat and I end up disliking the books. So, going into this I was a little on edge. But the summary enticed me enough to start it upon first recieving the email with this book attached.
Right away we are thrown into the scene of the crime – quite literally in fact. The deed of the kidnapping has already taken place and we are thrown into the fray of wondering what the heck happened and why was their friend taken? In that first scene we also meet our main characters and immediately I can get a sense of who these characters are and what they’re like. This author uses a lot of the dialogue to really get across how a character is and how they are as a person. Which is different from the usual, “let me use my main character’s inner monologue to tell you all about her friends and her life.” Nothing like that. It’s quite refreshing.
I had a hard time really relating to the main character, could be because she’s only fifteen (as is pretty much all the characters in the book, besides the small children/dolls), or it could be because she’s sort of one dimensional? Hard to explain, but let me try.
The main character, Cassie, has a troubled past. We don’t know what it is in full detail, only that she has one. She’s afraid of the dark. She’s afraid of creepy houses. She’s afraid of the man who lives in said creepy house. Then she’s afraid of confessing her feelings to the guy she likes. It just seemed like the main character was always afraid of something. It made it a bit difficult to swallow it all. Almost like beating a dead horse. Wasn’t completely off-putting but it definitely didn’t make me feel sympathy for Cassie. I get that all humans are afraid of stuff, but we also find joy in a lot of other stuff. If you were to ask me what Cassie likes to do on her spare time, I couldn’t tell you because I don’t know. If you ask me what Cassie’s scared of, I got you. Hopefully that makes sense.
But I think towards the end of the book (especially the very end) there is redemption for this character in my eyes. I guess that’s the whole point of first novels – to create that journey from fearful to fearless – and Cassie definitely starts to comfront the very heart of her fears in the end. I was so cheering for her in the end like, “Go girl!” …Which brings me to the ending…
I was SO frustrated with the ending! I mean, talk about MAJOR CLIFFHANGER. But then again, it was so fitting. It almost felt like a slavery to freedom story in that Cassie finally broke free of her chains/fears and her freedom was whatever she saw in the end (trying to avoid spoilers, sorry!). For that reason, it seemed right that we didn’t see what she saw at the very end. We’re kinda left in the wild to assume what we want and create our own version. Always a nice touch. But, still. I sat there for a good half hour just like “wtf, how could the author do this to me?!” But that’s always a good sign of a good book 😉
Overall, not a bad read. Finished it in one sitting of about two and half hours…I kept getting distracted by my popcorn. Anyway!
MY RATING: 3.5/5
P.S. Isn’t the cover absolutely beautiful? Mesmerizing.