The Doll Factory

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

This book started out strong but really fizzled out mid-way.  I was not interested enough to continue.  The writer provided some very beautiful writing, I just needed the action to be more quickly paced.  I do see real promise in this one so it could be a good historical novel if you have more patience than I do.
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This one was a little "graphic" to say the least. I had a hard time sticking to this one because of that. The setting is historic which is always intriguing to me definitely that quintessential scary novel you want to read in the fall to help set the mood for Halloween. 
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.
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An extremely well written story about women’s rights during the 1850s in London. A wonderful example of show don’t tell. The characters and the setting seem real (and some are icky). There is love and loss. And oh, the art culture is so fascinating!  Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.
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Historical fiction starring the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood?  Yes, please.  Sadly, the real PRB makes a tangential appearance with "Johnnie" Millais being the most frequent member we see.  There's a good description of London during their era and the art scene, along with some talk about their philosophy of art (and a cameo by Ruskin) but the real focus is on the obsessions of Silas and the life of Iris as a worker and then model.  For me, either more PRB or more on the Silas/Iris relationship would have worked but the combination doesn't.

eARC provided by publisher.
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I'm having  big of a hard time deciding how I feel about this. Parts reminded me of The Butterfly Garden, parts of The Clockmaker's Daughter. Not really a mystery, not really a romance. I was interested enough to see what happened but never felt very attached to any of the characters.
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The Doll factory is a dark and disturbing historical novel set in 1850s London during the building of the Great Exhibition. The story sounded intriguing and  indeed it was, during the first half of the story. Unfortunately, portions of the story were just too graphic for me, and I was unable to complete it.

The story was well-written, and the characters and settings were beautifully drawn. Elizabeth Macneal  has written a book that will be memorable for readers, and I cannot fault her writing at all. It is simply that, for me, some parts of the story were too memorable. 

Thank you to NetGalley and  Atria Books for the ARC of The Doll Factory.
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Iris and Rose are twins. They may look alike but have very different personalities. Iris" greatest desire is to become a painter an artist. When she is invited to become a model for Louis in exchange for painting lessons, she is excited. 
Silas is an artist of a different sort. One could call his art macabre. He poses dead animals. He stuffs them and sets them up doing different things. He also collects and preserves specimens of all kinds in glass bottles. When Silas sees Iris he is enthralled with her twisted collarbone. This speaks to him in a way that nothing has before. He becomes obsessed with owning her. She is different, unique, so he must have her. What entails is a twisted story of obsession, torture, love, sadness and strength. 
Phenomenal read!!
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I got 5 % into this book and had to stop.  I thought I was going to like it as it started out in a very interesting way and was suspenseful.  I could not, however, read beyond the first paragraph of the chapter titled "Pups" as it was nauseating to me and is definitely not something I would enjoy reading further.  Thank you for the opportunity to read this advanced copy and I am sure there will be an audience for this novel.  Just not my thing.
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The Doll Factory is a historical fiction/mystery debut by author Elizabeth MacNeal set in historic 1850’s London.  The book started slowly for me but the author is setting up the atmosphere of this gothic Victorian novel.  MacNeal does an excellent job describing this period in time. 
The Doll Factory is a novel about love and obsession, art, creativity, ambition, hopes and dreams set in the shadow of the Great Exhibition. I felt like MacNeal has done an excellent job of developing the characters.   Iris is an ambitious, strong and intelligent woman living in an era with few opportunities for women.  Rose, less ambitious, scarred from small pox is a shadow of her sister.  Finally, Silas the taxidermist and proprietor of a shop of curiosities is a depraved man with deadly obsessions about Iris. 
While I can’t say I loved this book, I did find it to be a book I liked reading.   This book should appeal to those who enjoy reading Historical Fiction – I think those who are looking for a thriller will be disappointed. I did like the dark turn it took in the 3rd section.  All in all, I think I give this book 3.5 stars.rounded up to 4.
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This was not really for me I was not able to finish it I just could not get my mind absorbed in this story.
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I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  			
From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.			

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.

This was a spooky, ethereal read that is a historical novel as well as a mystery and thriller wrapped up into one. I love the historical novel genre as I am a history freak who loves to wander through cemeteries and see who died when and if there was a war, flu outbreak or just plain childbirth as the killer. The book was well crafted and the story fascinating and macabre at the same time as obsession is a dark and dangerous thing in this novel! 

I remember the creation of the Great Exhibition from the TVshow "Victoria" so I enjoyed this book having that historical thought in my head and, of course, "The Cabinet of Curiosities" by Lincoln & Child also resonated for me when I read this excellent book. The Great Exhibition was like a glass castle on the lawn of the park, so it alone on itself was a bell jar worthy of being in the aforementioned curiosity cabinet --- as always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "Social Influencer Millennials" on Instagram and Twitter) so let's give it 🏰🏰🏰🏰🏰
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You have to love a book that gives you Gothic romance, the Great Exhibition, pre-Raphaelite artists, taxidermy, Victorian portrait doll making, and a woman breaking boundaries.  And they work together quite well.  Silas will haunt you forever, especially as some of the novel is told from his perspective.  My only quibble with the novel is that my favorite character died, quite senselessly.  He was perhaps the best person in the novel and his absence was notable.  In fact, I read that part three times just to make sure I was reading it correctly.  I'm at a loss as to the reason.  
I enjoyed that our story swirls in and around historical events and people.  Macneal did a great job in weaving fact and fiction and giving us a look into Victorian times.  This is an impressive first novel and I do believe her future endeavors will be even better.
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This is a story about obsession, love, ugliness, beauty, and art. A lovely doll maker begins her career as an artist with the assistance of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in Victorian London. She becomes the obsession of a disturbed taxidermist and ultimately must fight for her life before she becomes his next trophy. The grime and filth of industrial London sweeps through the pages, and along with the descriptions of animal cruelty and dissection, make this a difficult read at times. Nevertheless, fans of “Penny Dreadful” and dark historical fiction will appreciate the attention to detail and horror that make this novel hard to put down.
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This was an intriguing story of passion, art ad obsession. One of my favorite elements of the story was the setting. I always have a great excitement for stories set back in history. 

Iris has a life that has been set out for her. Ties to a sister that suffered misfortune in life, she dreams of living for herself, doing what she is passionate about and being recognized as an individual. When an opportunity presents itself she has to make a choice. Continue on the path that has been set for her or start living or lose everything she has known for the life that she wants. 

While Iris follows her decision Silas waits in the wings. Waiting for the chance to befriend the beautiful and interesting creature that is Iris. Longing for companionship, he feels that their paths have crossed for a reason. That she is meant to be his and he hers. Soon his longing turns to obsession. An obsession that will cause him to have her at any cost.
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I am conflicted about this book. I thought the author did a wonderful job evoking the time period, and the Pre-Rafaelite artists, about whom I know just enough to enjoy this story set among them. 

However, I found the "thriller" elements too predictable, and i did not feel as driven to keep reading as I expect from that genre at its best. 

That said, I am really glad I had the opportunity to read this book, and think that it will be a bit with many readers. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read this ARC.
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First, thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read the ARC of this novel.

I love horror fiction and I love historical fiction. Unfortunately, for me, this novel failed on both accounts. I couldn't find a character I liked and the world the author created was too strange for me to relate to. It reads awkwardly in places and the prose is rough in spots. I was not able to finish this book because it lost my interest. It seems to meander around with no point and no hope for the characters.

Great cover and an interesting title, but not one for me.
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This book has characters you wouldn’t normally read about ,a disfigured sibling, a taxidermist.   A beautifully written and haunting emotional story
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Very good story! The atmoshpere of this novel and the setting were done very well. Also, the character development was done very well also.
I really enjoyed this dark, twisted, and chillingly romantic tale.
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The Doll Factory is completely dreadful, in the absolute best sense of the word. It was Set in London in the 1800s, the story revolves around Iris and her sister Rose, both mostly poor and working in a dollmaker's shop. Rose sews the dresses, and Iris does the intricate painting required on the faces. Their favorite game is "dead, or alive?" The dolls are either playthings for the rich children of the clients, or a cherished embodiment of a dead child, based on a photo of what we know in modern times as the photos of deceased children that were propped up for the photo. Iris longs to break free of this life and paint as a real artist, but guilt for her twin holds her back as she was scarred by small pox and will never find love and a life of her own. A series of events throws Iris into the path of Louis, a painter in the PRB (pre-Raphaelite brotherhood) and Silas, a loathsome man that makes modern taxidermy look like a build-a-bear workshop. Louis wants her to model for him, and they fall head over heels in love with each other, causing her to become a fallen woman in the eyes of all who profess to love her, while Silas's obsession over her grows in a mounting tension in the background. In the midst of this is an adorable "urchin" named Albie who is struggling with telling Iris just how dangerous Silas is, because of the threat to his own sister. A cruel fate befalls Albie on his way to warn Iris, and a fight with Louis puts her directly in his path, with no one the wiser to where she's disappeared to. 

From here the book descends into chaotic madness, which has been creeping along the edges of the pages all along, a mounting dread that's been lurking in the glimpses we get of the cesspool of Silas's mind. MacNeal brings to life the horror that is captivity and degradation and the tantalizing possibility of escape at any notice. It's pulse pounding, tense, and a true edge of your seat read. I have absolutely nothing to add that isn't positive about this book. It's a true great in the world of atmosphere, thriller and horror. A true Victorian masterpiece of madness.
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This was not my kind of story. It’s about twin girls, one beautiful and the other scared  by smallpox in Victorian England.
And a character I really disliked, a taxidermist who collected some really disgusting things. When he went after one of the twins is when I quit reading!
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