Member Reviews

I went into this blind after seeing rave reviews and the last thing I expected was for a horror anthology to be such a hit in the feels. I love how very human and relatable stories are told through the guise of the dark and macabre in this enjoyable collection. The author has created beautifully unique tales using classic horror tropes while exploring themes such as love, womanhood, female friendships, grief, loss and letting go.

All four stories were creative and compelling, but the first was my favorite hands down. Brilliant, haunting and one of the most unforgettable anthologies I've ever read!


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Four short spooky stories, each different and unique but packed with such deeper meaning. The stories complemented each other so nicely, and progressively got spookier and spookier.

Reply Hazy, Try Again
- Jordan picks up a Magic 8 Ball at a Flea market and lets it pick her fate for her. She becomes obsessed with it, and lets it make all her big and little decisions.

- Nat goes to her childhood friend’s bachelorette party, where she doesn’t know any of the other girls. This one ultimately reminds us to stand true for who you are and don’t fall into the pressures of those around you.

- Meg decides to download an app called Goblin that helps loose weight. As the story progresses we learn that Meg previously suffered with eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Caution to those that can be triggered by this! Such a fun perspective on how we struggle to be the “ideal” image we expect of ourselves.

Bad Dolls
- Mackenzie moves back to her hometown after the unexpected death of her sister. As she moves into an attic apartment she discovers a doll that seems to come to life. This story explores grief and how people handle it differently. This one is by far the creepiest of the bunch!

Thank you so much Berkley for a complimentary copy of this short story collection.

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3.5 stars
Four short stories…

“Reply Hazy, Try Again” a story of an indecisive woman who buys a possessed Magic 8 Ball.

“Bachelorette” a story of a bachelorette party with an odd and creepy, not so traditional, tradition.

“Goblin” a weird story about a dieting app and a woman attending her ex’s wedding.

“Bad Dolls” a story about a possessed doll.

I wouldn’t consider any of these stories as “horror” instead they were weird (in a good way) with some supernatural elements. Each story was very different, fast paced and entertaining, I finished it in one sitting.

My favorites were “Bachelorette” which was filled with the complicated dynamics of female friendships with an unexpecting ending, and “Bad Dolls” was not only about a possessed doll, but about the grief of the death of a family member.

It you’re a fan of creepy/weird short stories, then I would recommend checking this one out.

Thank you to Berkley for an advanced copy in exchcnage for my honest review.

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I typically keep a book of short stories in my bag so if I'm out somewhere and have time to read, I have something available. That didn't work with this book. These 4 stories are so good, I read them one right after the other, sitting in my chair, ignoring the rest of the world. Rachel Harrison has done a great job of making each story a complete journey. She grabs you at the first page and builds them so quickly, you finish one and move right to the next. This takes skill and a little bit of a twisted imagination, but I love it!

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Bad Dolls is a collection of 4-short stories from Rachel Harrison, one of my new go-to Horror authors. I recently read Harrison's October 2022-release, Such Sharp Teeth, and absolutely loved it. After I finished, I thought, 'do I need to wait an entire year to get another new release from Harrison? If so, how sad.' I checked out her author page and was delighted to discover this collection releasing Tuesday, December 6th.

For me the collection was perfectly arranged, with each story increasing my enjoyment level. The first story follows Jordan, who picks up a Magic 8-Ball for nostalgia's sake at a flea market and it ends up influencing her life in big ways. I enjoyed this story as a start to the collection. It didn't knock my socks off, but was well-written and had an intriguing concept.

The second story follows Nat as she attends her best friend from childhood, Hailey's, bachelorette party. Nat doesn't really know any of the other women that well, as they are Hailey's friends from college. It explores her feelings of exclusion and how friendships can change over time. This one went in such an interesting direction that I wasn't expecting. I enjoyed Nat's narrative voice and love how this one ended.

The third story follows Meg, who decides to join her friend on a diet prior to attending her ex's wedding. The women download an app called, Goblin, that is supposed to help them stick to their plan. The exploration of body issues and struggling with an eating disorder was very well done. I loved the idea of the Goblin. It feels that way sometimes, doesn't it?

I would throw a caution flag on this story for Readers who may be triggered by active eating disorders, or BDD.

Finally, the fourth, and my favorite story of the lot, follows Mackenzie, who moves back to her hometown following the death of her little sister, Audrey. This story explores grief, guilt and regrets. Mackenzie rents an attic apartment and discovers a porcelain doll there. Things get weird, things get creepy and I absolutely loved it. This story for me was a perfect example of why I love Rachel Harrison's work so much.

Overall, this is a great collection. I definitely recommend it for anyone who has enjoyed Harrison's novels, or anyone who enjoys short-Horror in general.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. These stories are going to stick in my mind for a long time. Well done!

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I love a good short story collection, especially a spooky one written by and about women. In Bad Dolls, Rachel Harrison gives us four scary stories about complicated female friendships, eating disorders, and grief. While the creep factor was pretty minimal for me (I grew up reading Stephen King and Shirley Jackson) the stories themselves were well woven and moving. My favorites were Goblin, in which two friends experiment with a violent and terrible new diet app, and Bad Doll, in which a young woman battles grief AND (?) an evil doll.

I'll definitely look out for more by Rachel Harrison and recommend her to customers, I just wish I'd gotten a bit more of a creepy factor out of these.

Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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The stories in this collection reflect “normal” women’s experiences in absurd and sometimes tongue-in-cheek ways—a bachelorette party hinged on blood sacrifice, a dieting app that comes with a monstrous manifestation of hunger, etc. Consistently brilliant and resonant, these stories could all flow from the same woman, or they could be four different women, and that is an incredible unification of the female experience. A fierce voice for women in horror, Harrison never disappoints.

Author Q&A to follow with full review on Rue Morgue.

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First I'd like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review. Another stand out work for Rachel Harrison addressing the horrific nature of the female experience and complex relationships. Bad Dolls is an immersive horror collection of four well rounded short stories exploring female friendships, body image issues, and heartbreak. I found these stories showcased many classic horror tropes but focused more on horrific acts (both mental and physical) centering on relationships and women. It's not overtly scary, but the horror tropes utilized serve to heighten the characters emotions and trauma. A solid collection of short stories that will leave readers hungering for more of Rachel Harrison's works!

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I loved Cackle by this author so I had to try this one. I usually don’t read short stories but I really enjoyed these. The representation in this stories is off the charts! I was genuinely invested in each character and was surprised by some of the endings.I like horror stories with substance and these delivered! Rachel Harrison is now one of my favorite authors!!

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I loved this collection, which is comprised of 4 short stories that were fun and engaging. Bachelorette was my favorite. I also loved the Bad Doll one at the end. Never knew I would be so interested in a Magic 8 Ball or a creepy dieting app…

The writing is reminiscent of work my Mona Awad. It gave me Bunny vibes. I was hooked.

I loved the authors brisk and authentic writing style so much and will definitely look for more books by Harrison in the future. I’m a fan and need to read everything she writes now.

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Having loved Harrison’s Cackle I was excited to read these short stories. While the stories capture all the aspects of this author’s writing that I like (the keen understanding of women and how they feel, what we are socialized to feel and do, the anger and brokenness that can stem from that) the narratives were somewhat predictable. Each of the four stories tackles a complicated aspect of womanhood with the horror tropes acting as a great foil, but the outcome of the stories was obvious from the first few sentences. Granted this gets fairly meta in that the horror of womanhood isn't the big jump scares, but the non-stop drudgery of existing in a world where you are always the “other.” However, if you like your horror to have an element of suspense or mystery, these are not that kind of tale.

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these were four great horror stories, they had what I was hoping for from the description. I was invested in these stories and it did everything that I was hoping for. Rachel Harrison had a great writing style and I was hooked from the first story. It was a great spooky book and I'm glad I read this.

"I thought about throwing the 8 Ball into the river, winding my arm like a pitcher and catapulting it into the murky waters, among Mafia skeletons and lost treasure and trash. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it."

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I really loved this collection of short stories. Each had their own voice and their own unique story. “Goblin” and “Bachelorette” were stand outs for me.

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2 stars

I dont think Rachel Harrison is for me. I dont mind a little feminism in writing but hers boarders on pure hatred for men all together. It’s really hard to get past for me. I dont really find the humor or the horror in her stories. Her writing style (aside from that) is pretty average. I know that there are plenty of people that love and will love her, but I find her to be too much with the feminist attitude.

As an aside I am a woman and have healthy feminist beliefs, hers are just so far out there that it’s uncomfortable for me personally.

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Rachel Harrison is officially an auto-read/auto-buy author for me. I loved her latest book, Such Sharp Teeth, and really enjoyed Cackle (and have The Return on my read ASAP list).

This collection of four short stories is a quick, engaging read that delivers plenty of Harrison's trademark spooky situations, feminist social commentary, and plenty of snark, but with a painful emotional undercurrent. These stories are all spectacular.

Reply Hazy, Try Again: A sentient Magic 8 Ball leads a woman to find the answers she already knows deep down.

Bachelorette: A childhood BFF's bachelorette party weekend takes a super dark & bloody turn.

Goblin: A woman downloads a new dieting app and it goes way too far. (This one is eating disorder trigger central, so be warned)

Bad Dolls: After her sister dies, a woman moves back to her hometown and into an apartment with a creepy AF doll in it.

Highly recommend!

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Good stuff -- reminiscent of early Stephen King. I only wish there had been more stories!

Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!

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