The Doll Factory

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

ARC Generously Provided by Publisher

Thrillers aren't usually my cup of tea but The Doll Factory is one that anyone, whether you're a fan of thrillers or not should read. It is a chilling and gothic historical fiction, from debut author Elizabeth Macneal. 

The book is set in the Victorian era, and feels so creepy, you get the chills. The book is definitely atmospheric and full of  beautiful and deranged obsessions, among love and horror that is set back against poverty. There are clear indications between class divisions and inequalities, as you'd think there'd be. 

For Iris and her sister Rose, they live boring lives painting dolls for a laudanum ridden Mrs. Salter. But at the back, nether of lives have been easy. Iris has ambitions to become a artist but is not supported by her family, because of how society treated women in the 1800's. Both sisters encounter men that will undoubtedly change their lives. Elizabeth Macneal captures historical facts so well, that you even feel like you're in the era with the sisters.        

The cast of characters is very diverse and should be applauded. I definitely enjoyed the second half of the book where it takes a turn and becomes disturbing and unsettling. This would make a great movie!     

I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves the horror element among everyday life.
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Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Beyond amazing I enjoyed this book so very much. The characters and storyline were fantastic. The ending I did not see coming  Could not put down nor did I want to.
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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 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! 

And the ending was a little unsatisfactory. It felt a little rushed too.

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.
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I’m not entirely certain how I feel about this book! I enjoyed it, but it also gave me the creeps and grossed me out so I stopped reading for a few days before coming back to it. I feel like there was so much detail about Iris but I never understood her relationship to Louis and felt she gave in to him too quickly. Silas was an oddity that I thought would take up more of the book. And the ending... well I was disappointed. I didn’t feel much of a victory in it. Yet, I liked it.

I was provided with an ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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A beautifully written historical fiction novel. The authors' descriptive style was so well done I could almost smell the stench of London in 1850. It was not an idealized version of the time nor the place. It was real and raw and sometimes hard to read, and I appreciated that. Life was hard. Things weren't fair or pretty for the majority of the population.

This is the year of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. Artists are all vying for their works to be accepted. And it is at this site that two people meet. For one, Iris, it isn't memorable at all. But for Silas, in his severely messed up head, he has met his soulmate.

Iris and her twin sister Rose are apprenticed to a doll maker, who is also an addict. Iris hates it. She wants to paint. She wants more. And through chance, she is asked to model for an artist. Not only will she have her own bedsit, but she will also be learning to paint.

Down the street, Silas has thought of nothing but Iris. In his sick mind, she loves him as well. Now he is obsessed and is following her waiting for her to come to him and declare her love. When she rebuffs him, things get ugly. 

An exceptionally well-written tale!

NetGalley/ August 13th, 2019 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
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I received this from for a review. 

1850, London. 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. 

Dark and creepy.

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I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book! Great character development, great story lines, and awesome timing in the book. The story is set in the mid 1800s in London, where a man falls in love with a woman with a broken clavicle. She falls in love with an artist, and the artist loves her too. The other man is kind of crazy (actually really crazy), and he does some really awful things. I highly recommend this for fans of psychological thrillers, historical fiction, or crazy people.
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I believe this is a debut novel and WHOA! What a wonderful debut Ms. Macneal's The Doll Factory is, the setting London in 1800s and is an exquisite nod to the Victorian era. The details wonderful, on point and I was able to even learn a few things which in my book is a major plus. I truly enjoyed Iris's journey and following her dream of becoming an artist, this is a wonderfully written novel and can't wait to see what else Ms. Macneal will have to offer in the future.  I'd like to thank NetGalley and Ms. Macneal for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book!!

The Doll Factory is a dark, twisted story that had me turning its pages as fast as I could.  This is not an easy ready, nor is it for everyone.  I found this book to be disturbing more often than not.

Although the story did have a few surprises, the ending was typical.
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This was a totally creeping book based in London in the 1850's.

Iris & her sister Rose work in a doll shop painting dolls. They dream of a way out of their boring lives, but circumstances stop them. They both attract the eye of a man, Silas, who owns a "curiosity shop", which is filled with stuffed animals & other oddities.

Chance meetings with certain people leads Iris to a job as a model for the painting, Louis Frost.

Silas becomes obsessed with Iris & we learn some of his past & the type of person he of this were so creepy & mildly disgusting.

It was a page turner for sure, slightly predictable moments but entertaining.

I received any advance copy of this book for an honest opinion.
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Reading this book is like slipping into an exquisitely hot bath of a well-produced BBC/Masterpiece story, but with a heady dose of truly macabre darkness.  Instead of the cloyingly perfect historical worlds we read most about, this story deals with the working class of the era and gives us insight into the hardscrabble and bleak lives they lived.   I will have to warn animal lovers that violence/torture of animals does occur in this novel.  As an animal lover, I was turned off by these plot elements, but wound up soldiering through and skimming those portions because the characters and stories were so strong that I couldn't discount the whole book because of the taxidermy theme.  I truly appreciate why the author left these portions in; life in London at that time wasn't quaint and palatable for everyone, so I understand her using this motif.   So even if you're like me, someone who Googles "", see if you can't give this a chance and skim over the animal parts.  It's THAT GOOD.
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To be fair, I just could not finish this book.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my review, but unfortunately I had to put this one down.   Too many uncomfortable pieces of this story.
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This book is a spooky thriller, and may not be for everyone. It’s a tough read if struggle with really dark tales. This is the first book I’ve read by Elizabeth Macneal.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC for my Kindle.
I enjoy historical fiction, but this one was just too dark for me. If you like quirky & odd stories with a little gore, you might like this one.
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Elizabeth Macneal's The Doll Factory is a well constructed novel that feels firmly rooted in the Victorian era of its setting, while still remaining relevant by today's standards. At times, it feels like it may veer into a darkness reminiscent of a 'feminist Poe', but unfortunately, it never fully surrenders to the macabre, instead remaining more Dickensian in its storytelling approach. As this adjective is often questioned for its multiple and often misconstrued meanings, by 'Dickensian', I mean to say that it is a novel populated by sort of hyperbolic characters, with a social commentary explored through vivid depictions of the roughness of society, and an overall quality of grim reality. Had the narrative pushed the boundaries slightly or provided something a little more spectacular, which it could've easily done with the eccentricities it had already set up for us, it would've made this book truly captivating. There were so many things I did like about the book, from the central characters to the art-imitates-life-imitates-art cycle explored, with the plot and artistic content becoming entwined and giving it a sort of meta quality.
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I thought The Doll Factory started out wonderfully and I was interested right away, but then things took a downhill turn for me. Although there were some spooky elements to the story, I really just had a hard time staying interested. If you like gothic fiction with a historical element, you may want to give this one a chance, but it just wasn't for me in the end.
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This was my first book by Elizabeth Macneal, and I was very impressed with her ability to set the scene.  This book was described as chilling, gothic historical fiction set in the Victorian Era.  While this isn't my usual preference for historical fiction, I did enjoy the story, once I got into the story.   But it did take some time for me to really get caught up in the story.  After years of thrillers with instant action, slow build books like this are a nice change.

I"m grateful to the publisher, author and Netgalley for the chance to read and review this book.
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The Doll Factory started slowly and I wasn't sure where it was going at first. I was interested after a couple chapters. The more I read about the twin sisters Rose and Iris, the more immersed I became in the story. The twins sit together painting features on dolls all day. The time is mid eighteen hundreds, not an easy time for a woman with ambitions or emotions. This story has plenty of both and for added excitement there's obsession thrown into the mix. By this time the story is exciting and heartbreaking. This is a well written tale with great characters. I'm still thinking about the outcome hours after I finished the book.

I received an Advanced Readers Copy from Atria Books through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
#TheDollFactory #NetGalley
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I had a very hard time with this book. Reading it became such a chore I was looking for excuses not to read. That is something that rarely if ever happens to me. Dead animals and fleas and filth just turned me off. I could not finish this book.
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Fantastic page turner of a thriller. Spooky and dramatic in all the right places. I couldn’t stop reading...during the day! Make sure to read with the lights on!
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