Dollhouse by Anya Allyn.
Published: May 20, 2014.
Published by: The Studio, a Paper Lantern Lit imprint.
Source: Received an e-copy of the book from PLL for the blog tour. Thanks, PLL!
It isn’t nice to play games.
Cassie knows coveting her best friend’s boyfriend is practically a cardinal sin. So when Aisha disappears, Cassie fears it’s her fault for even thinking of Ethan that way.
As the chemistry between them escalates, Cassie and Ethan discover a secret they never would have imagined: a hidden mansion in the mist-enshrouded mountains, where Aisha and several other girls are being held as dolls by a handsome young man who they call The Provider.
Torn between her forbidden feelings for Ethan, and her intense, unexpected attraction to The Provider, Cassie must overcome temptation. Because it turns out that even good girls can be drawn to dark things… and the game between Cassie and The Provider has only just begun, in this tantalizing start to an incredible series.Check out the creepy as heck book trailer!
If you're looking for a creepy read, you're going to want to pick up Dollhouse. While I found it a little over the top at times, it is definitely a book that keeps you curious and honestly a little mind boggled throughout. Allyn's strength really lies in creating a creep factor that only serves to get weirder and darker as the story goes on, so if that's what you're in the mood for, this is a great read.
Our poor main character Cassie is only trying to find her missing friend Aisha when she, along with another friend and Aisha's boyfriend, gets trapped in an old mansion and forced to confront some absolutely wild situations that may or may not have haunted the nightmares of various children after being emotionally scarred by dolls or circuses. The setting and atmosphere is described and woven through the story so well that I was constantly looking up from my e-reader to shake off a chill or check that it was still light outside. When Allyn sets the tone, she really sets the tone and I couldn't get rid of the creeped-out feeling in my stomach for the rest of the book. I was very impressed by how thoroughly she worked that in. I think Allyn made a very strong choice in keeping me as a reader as much in the dark as the characters were. Sometimes I like knowing what's going on around the main character's immediate range of attention but in this case being stuck basically in Cassie's head only served to improve on her already strong sense of mystery.
I do have to say that sometimes I was pulled out of the story a bit by how ridiculous some of the elements were. I don't want to spoil anything because the build up makes it so much better, but occasionally I felt like the weird was too much. There is suspending disbelief and then there are some parts of this book. However, I thought the strange historical connection that comes up was very interesting (though I want more explanation about how that is possible), so maybe I'm not the best judge because I could see that coming off as extra strange as well, but I liked it.
The character relationships were interesting and fairly well developed for the time that they were shown together. Cassie and Ethan I really liked together, especially as the book went on. Ethan is Aisha's boyfriend, though, so I kind of felt bad about rooting for them, but Allyn deals with this rather well too, so clearly the almost-triangle issue was well thought out. That being said, I never felt like I really knew the characters all that well or saw them grow much. I think so much attention was devoted to the darker elements of the book that, while it definitely made them stronger, it took away from the characters for me. I do have to mention, though, that I loved the surprise twist concerning one of the side characters... again, no spoilers, but I definitely didn't see that coming and it was an interesting turn of events.
Since the synopsis has reassured me that this is indeed the first in a series (thank goodness... that ending is a crazy cliffhanger!), I can see a lot of potential for the future books. I only hope that we get to know the characters more and that maybe the weirdness is toned down just a little. But I'm most definitely looking forward to getting some answers!
About the author:
Anya Allyn grew up in Sydney, Australia, and now lives by the beach on The Central Coast. She spends her days with five incredibly cool males - four of whom are her kids. As a child, she could be found reading, sketching comic strips or fainting during choir practice in her school convent. She has worked in entertainment, web content, and most recently as a Features' Editor for Fairfax Media in Australia. Dollhouse is her first novel. Photo © Tim Carter