Jee reviews #TheDollFactory by Elizabeth McNeal @esmacneal #eARC #NetGalley @EmilyBestler @AtriaBooks #Fiction #Debut #gothicFiction #psychologicalthriller

Title/Author: The Doll Factory by Elizabeth McNeal

Publisher: Atria Books/Emily Bestler

In a nutshell (Publisher):

Obsession is an art.

In this “sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art, and obsession” (Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train), a beautiful young woman aspires to be an artist, while a man’s dark obsession may destroy her world forever.

In 1850s London, the Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and, among the crowd watching the dazzling spectacle, two people meet by happenstance. For Iris, an arrestingly attractive aspiring artist, it is a brief and forgettable moment but for Silas, a curiosity collector enchanted by all things strange and beautiful, the meeting marks a new beginning.

When Iris is asked to model for Pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly, her world begins to expand beyond her wildest dreams—but she has no idea that evil is waiting in the shadows. Silas has only thought of one thing since that chance meeting, and his obsession is darkening by the day.

“A page-turning psychological thriller” (Essie Fox, author of The Somnambulist) that will haunt you long after you finish it, The Doll Factory is perfect for fans of The AlienistDrood, and The Historian.

Verdict: Read it but be prepared to be totally creep-ed out!

My thoughts:

19th century. London.

Iris aspires to be an artist, but isn’t able to pursue her passion due to her circumstances, until a chance encounter at the Great Exhibition (1850) at Hyde Park. Iris meets Silas, a curious collector of strange stuff that includes animals, bugs and insects. Silas is entranced by Iris and couldn’t get his mind off of her. A slip of his tongue led Iris to becoming a model for a pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, which also gives her a chance to be trained by Louis himself to be an artist in her own right.

All’s well until Silas decides that Iris is in love with him and that she wouldn’t be happy until she’s with him. And he becomes obsessed with her. And thus, begins his journey and obsession in pursuing her. And all hell breaks loose.

Wow. This book. Just wow. It left me feeling ambivalent – part of me didn’t want to finish it because it was just too disturbing for my taste, yet I wanted to keep going to know the how this entire tale is going to be resolved, And I loved the powerful and atmospheric writing.

Most of the characters were unlikeable except for maybe Albie and Iris. Silas is a sick, sick man, so sick that at times I couldn’t bring myself to read his part. And I must admit, the parts where there’s animal cruelty, I skimmed-skipped them. It was just too much. He was heartless and inhumane beyond words. He was never loved therefore he didn’t know how to love. But I disliked him so much I couldn’t bring myself to empathize with him!

Although the ending was a little unsatisfactory, and felt a little rushed, this book clung on to me for a few days. To be exact, Silas. He’s one not to be forgotten.

If you’re looking for a page-turning Gothic psychological thriller and can stomach animal atrocities, give this one a go. But if you’re an animal lover, STAY AWAY.

Be warned! This page-turner, while very well written, is very disturbing and downright creepy. I guess that’s the effect of powerful writing. It affects you deeply.

Thank you Netgalley and Atria Books for the free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

This book has also gotten rave reviews from some of my favorite bloggers! Check them out!

Jennifer, Tar Heel Reader

Stephen Writes

Have you read this book? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you intend to? (AGAIN: A note to animal lovers, you might want to stay away from this.)

Last but not least, thank you for stopping by! May the power of good books be with you always!

18 Comments Add yours

  1. Great review, Jee! I have to agree that some of Silas’ actions and the descriptions of his work were a bit shocking at first. But it really does make you want to read on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jee Wan says:

      Thank you, Stephen! And he creeps me out like h**l! And the way he treated the animals omg… 😔

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely review, Jee! I had to skip over those animal parts! They were tough! It was definitely a creepy, disturbing read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jee Wan says:

      Thank you, Jennifer! And I agree with you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Darina says:

    Excellent review! I love books with powerful writing that stay with you a long time after finishing them and sounds like this book is one of those.

    1. Jee Wan says:

      Thank you, Darina! Her writing and the creepy, sick character Silas. He is so so sick… I wish he could get some help…


  4. Rosie Amber says:

    This book is very tempting, I like gothic settings, but I’m not too sure about the obesssion. Love the book cover though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jee Wan says:

      I love the cover too! Yeah the obsession is downright crazy. He’s sick and crazy and just plain creepy.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. nsfordwriter says:

    Well, everyone knows I didn’t like this book at all… I think if it hadn’t been an ARC, I would have DNFed as soon as I realised that Silas is a taxidermist (ugh) but the blurb had no mention of that. So many people are loving this book… I got the impression you didn’t love it Jee, although you admired some of the things about it 🙂


    1. Jee Wan says:

      Yes I honestly admire her writing for one. But I am ambivalent about the book. What I clearly disliked was definitely Silas. He is demented and he needs help!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. nsfordwriter says:

        He was a horrible figure but I think you were kind of meant to feel sorry for him. He seemed so over the top I wondered why he was in there.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Jee Wan says:

        Yes I agree but he’s so over the top that I find it so difficult to feel sorry for him… I can imagine how much you disliked his character. I’d warn all animal lovers to stay away from this book😔

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Jules_Writes says:

    I’ve been looking at this book for a while now, I must go and get it! Fab review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jules_Writes says:

      Lol, I’ve had too many pages of your blog open I meant that commend for your review of The Dragon Republic 😀 Time for more coffee for me!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jee Wan says:

        Hahhhaa I totallly get that! The Dragon Republic was as good as her first book! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Jee Wan says:

      Thank you, Jules!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Daniela Ark says:

    It’ hard to read about animal cruelty so ty for the warning but you make this sound SO GOOD I’ll HAVE to read it! page-turning Gothic is exactly what I love! Great review Jee

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jee Wan says:

      Thank you, Daniela! Can’t wait to read your review once you get to it 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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