The Dollmaker by Nina Allan

Genre: Historical Fiction | Mystery

Pages: 416

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Stitch by perfect stitch, Andrew Garvie makes exquisite dolls in the finest antique style. Like him, they are diminutive but graceful, unique, and with surprising depths. Perhaps that’s why he answers the enigmatic personal ad in his collector’s magazine.

Letter by letter, Bramber Winters reveals more of her strange, sheltered life in an institution on Bodmin Moor, and the terrible events that put her there as a child. Andrew knows what it is to be trapped, and as they knit closer together, he weaves a curious plan to rescue her

Many thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for letting me have an early copy of this book.

For me the story started out well. We are introduced to Andrew Garvie, taken through his childhood and adolescent experiences, and brought to the present day. So far so good. I was intrigued.

I think originally I did not read the full synopsis properly, because when it came to the Ewa Chaplin fairy tales I was extremely confused. I even thought that somehow there had been some kind of mix up in the formatting of the book. Then I realised they are part of the story, and at first I didn’t understand why we had to endure them. They creeped me out. I’m a dot of a lady myself, standing at 4 ft 11, and when I come across any adult that is noticeably shorter than me I immediately feel uncomfortable.

Some of Andrews life experiences also had me feeling uncomfortable; it seemed he was willing to do these things just to feel a bit of human affection. At times Andrew seemed desperate to please others.

As I ploughed through the book, the fairy tales began to make sense and had some kind of link to the actual story. The format of this book was very unconventional; I hadn’t come across anything like it before. It had the narrative of Andrew, followed by fairy tales which were stories within a story. And finally we had the letters written to Andrew from Bramber.

Although I found elements slightly creepy, the format of the book kept me interested, and I was intrigued about Bramber and why she was in some kind of institution.

I rated The Dollmaker 3 hearts. It is a book very different to anything I have read before, not from the storyline, but the actual layout. It was very cleverly done.