Cover Image: The Doll Factory

The Doll Factory

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Member Reviews

Thank you so much for the copy. I tried to pick this one up but it did not work for me. Thank you for the opportunity to be an early reader.
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I ended up not being able to get into this book - Thank you to the publisher for the gifted copy, but it just wasn't for me. I read reviews that were 5 stars across the board so I'm going to say It was me and not the book. Just didn't mesh with my taste.
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Absolutely loved this book!! The writing was immaculate and took me back to 19th century Victorian London. In this creepy and chilling gothic historical fiction horror, we are introduced to the world of pre Raphael painting and a woman’s struggle to become an artist. Iris sacrifices everything to paint including her family, her respectable job, her security, her reputation and her honour. As she earns her way into the world of painting by sitting as a model and practicing her craft with an up and coming PRB artist named Louis, she not only learns how to navigate a world designed for men but also fight for her life as the elusive and strange taxidermist, Silas, develops an obsessive interest in her. Honestly, this story had a little bit of everything to keep the reader glued to the pages. It was dark, inspirational, tense...there was even a forbidden love story. And each of the plot elements were weaved together seamlessly. This was a riveting read for me and one with an abundance of ambiance and personality. 

A huge thank you to Simon and Schuster and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to the publisher for this copy - all opinions are my own.

This book is NOT going to be for everyone, but I can say that I really did end up enjoying it, in large part because it was a departure from my usual genres of choice.

While period pieces are not my normal go - to, Elizabeth's writing is so beautiful that I was sucked into this story early on.  Once I was able to catch the "voice" of the story, it sucked me in fully - and while it was a slow burn, it was actually quite nice to slow down and enjoy a book without needing to tear through it from start to finish.  

I specifically really enjoyed the horror element to this one which is done in a way that was satisfying to me as someone who likes to dabble in horror without going full tilt.  It was JUST creepy enough for me - although I think there will be readers put off by some of the topics.

Overall, one I deeply enjoyed.
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I had a very hard time getting into this book. The historical time period was hard to relate to and hard to get sucked into. The appropriate time period ay of speaking was also hard to follow with. I made the decision early into the book that this wasn't for me and did not finish.
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Doll Factory is so creepy and intense that some people will need trigger warnings.  Given that the main villain is a crazy taxidermist, it's not surprising that dead animals played a part in the story.  I did, however, find it hard to read the depictions of animal and human torture.  So much so that it made me disconnect with the book and want to put it down.

The writing was really good, and the plot was definitely interesting, but it just wasn't something I enjoyed reading. I loved the time period and usually can appreciate dark themes, but this just seemed a little far out there for me.
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2019: Simon & Schuster Canada/Atria/Emily Bestler Books

The Doll Factory is one of those novels that you either love and appreciate, or it just does not work for you. The story is one that will drag you into it's world, or one that you just can't get into. Or so, that is my experience and what I have read from other reviews. It is a gritty descriptive historical fiction set in 1850s London. It has a dark tone that lends to the suspense of the mystery. It reminds me of the show Penny Dreadful. I was hooked with this haunted story, and at times a bit disturbed. It is a hard one to describe, and one you just have to try and see what it evokes in you.

***I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.***
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The characters in this novel are portrayed wonderfully, their actions and desires expressed in such a way that I was not left indifferent, and I was together with them in the doll shop, in the artist studio or in the basement full of curiosities, some of which truly morbid.
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The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal is a book about obsession. The book is atmospheric and dark but a very slow read. Unfortunately, I am not the reader for this book. I appreciate the history of the art world and the 1850s London Exhibition. I can even appreciate the Gothic darkness that leads to an almost modern abduction and escape thriller ending. Graphic depictions of violence, however, are just not for me. 

Read my complete review at 

Reviewed for NetGalley.
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I could not get into this book and tried several times. The writing was fine and the topic seemed interesting but I just could not get sucked in by the book. I believe the flow of how the book went along was what was not doing it for me. I will try to return and give it one last shot.
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Atmospheric and spooky, this book could have been a great Victorian thriller/ romance, but ultimately failed plot wise. There was so much build up, but the final act was disappointing. Iris was an intriguing character, but she didn't make interesting choices. I didn't see a drive with her. 

Reminecesnt of Patrick Suskind's "Perfume"
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‏I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review.

The Doll Factory is the debut novel of Elizabeth Macneal. It is not a children's book. Before reading it, some reviewers thought it could be because of the cover. Afterward, they realized they were mistaken.

It is a historical fiction novel set in 1850 London. It revolves around Iris, a doll maker, who dreams of a better life. Iris knows her life drastically changes when she meets Louis Frost, a painter, who agrees to teach her to paint in exchange for sitting as his model. What she does not know is it also drastically changes with a brief exchange with Silas, a strange collector who is entranced and quickly becomes obsessed with Iris.

The story is a slow burn and took a while for me to really get into it. It was because of this, the story felt longer than 336 pages. Macneal's description of Silas's increasing obsession with Iris is creepy, dark, and extremely believable. What made it creepier is that Iris does not even remember meeting Silas. Yet, he believes Iris is as infatuated with him as he is with her. This theme has been done before but the 1850 London setting helps make the obsession even darker.

This 200-word review was published on on 2/6/20.
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I was thrilled to find this novel as good as the pre-release press. Macneal’s debut is confident, her prose engaging, and the narrative’s tension level perfect. We know our heroine, Iris, is on a collision course with danger from the early pages of the book, but I was in no hurry to resolve it. Macneal’s pacing was excellent. I savored this story. Iris is a strong, young woman and a much more complex character than I expected from the book’s initial description. I expected a fainthearted victim and Iris is anything but that. I appreciated the depth of thought and feeling she displayed as she contemplates what living on her own terms might cost her. 

Macneal adds further depth by embedding Iris in the world of the Pre-Raphaelite painters, Victorian “collecting culture,” orphan child grifters and prostitutes, and grueling work in Mrs. Salter’s Doll Emporium. Clever character eccentricities and details abound in the harsh realities of Victorian daily life. Iris longs to break free from the crippling expectations set for her by her parents, her sister, the family’s financial distress, and the Victorian religious and societal norms that constrain her. Iris wants to control her body, her thoughts, and her career prospects; she dreams of running a shop with her sister and life as a respected painter. A chance encounter presents Iris with the opportunity to escape her family’s predetermined plans and she soon finds herself immersed in the worlds of art history, philosophy, and rapidly changing sexual norms. But, a new and independent life is not without its dangers — especially when a disturbingly dark mind fixates on making Iris the most prized exhibit in his freakish museum of taxidermy and bottled oddities. 

Macneal’s debut is a delight. The history is solid, the mystery fast- paced, and the prose well-crafted. I look forward to Macneal’s next work.  Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. All opinions are my own.
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This book brings Victorian London to life, with all of its' beauty and squalor.  Iris and her twin sister Rose work in a doll factory,   She attracts the attention of two different men: Louis, an artist who asks her to model in his studio and eventually encourages her interest in painting; and Silas, a collector of curiosities for his museum.  It turns out that one of the men has ulterior motives for his attentions, and unfortunately, it might be too late when she discovers what they are.  This story gains momentum as it hurtles toward a breath-taking and satisfying ending.
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"London. 1850. The Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and among the crowd watching the spectacle two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning"

I wanted to looove this book, but it was just ok for me. Writing was very slow, story line was missing something.
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Not gonna lie, that cover is what made me pick this book. The concept was interesting, as well, but it was that cover that got me in. This was a book that took a while to get into. It is a slow start and is told from multiple perspectives. When the story was told from Iris’s POV, I was invested. Iris is one of my favorite characters from 2019. When the story switch to the kids, I was invested because I was so upset. Macneal did a great job with writing scenes and characters that brought out my empathy hardcore. And then there was Silas. I did not think Silas was going to…creep me out as much as he did, but boy, was I wrong. I felt gross sometimes reading from his perspective. Fantastic characters, great story, decent writing. Depending on the subject matter, I could possibly try a book from this author again.
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I am giving this novel 3 stars because of the beautiful cover and its uniqueness and creepiness factor, but this one just wasn't for me. When the novel started and Silas was first introduced, it reminded me of some of the creepier episodes of Criminal Minds and I had such high hopes! But as soon as Albie starts delivering dead animals to Silas and begging for money, this book lost its appeal. Yes, I am an over-the-top animal lover so the dead animals presented an issue for me, but even more than that was how after the opening of the novel, everything seemed to move at a snail's pace. Elizabeth Macneal is certainly extremely creative and I applaud the original and different plot of the novel. Unfortunately, however, this novel was a back and forth of being completely boring and a mix of Human Centipede and Silence of the Lambs at times.

Readers with strong stomachs that enjoy gothic and historical novels may very well love this one, but I wasn't a fan of it.

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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A creepy book set in Victorian London. I would definitely read more books by this author. I liked how the author integrated history, art, and taxidermy in this book.
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As you can tell by the fact it took me 3 months to finish this book, it definitely was not a favorite. The beginning was extremely slow and I sat it down many times. I think some of that is on me... I don’t usually read historical pieces but wanted to try something a little different.

The story picked up by about 75% and I felt actively engaged. There was a strong plot twist that added excitement. Overall I would recommend to readers who don’t mind the slower pace.

*Thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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This book is not for me. I thought i was looking for a fun thriller but for some reason I couldn't connect. Here is the thing this is the wrong genre.
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