Saturday 2 September 2023

Book Review: The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

 The Doll Factory


Elizabeth Macneal

Freedom is a precious thing

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Imprint: Picador
Publication date: 30th April 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction / Gothic / Thriller
Pages: 336
RRP: $29.99 (Trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Doll Factory

The Doll Factory is a gripping and bone-chilling gothic thriller. A tale of love and obsession set mid 19th Century London.
Macneal thrusts her readers into the streets of 1850's London detailing the filth, poverty, pick pockets and prostitution. The story is very confronting however Macneal delivers it all without judgement.

Women were expected to marry and have children but for those without marriage options life was an endless slog of backbreaking work. When Iris is asked to model for an artist her family disowns her however she is now open to a whole new world of art and freedom. A world where one man's obsession and delusion will put her in grave danger.
Macneal's characters are beautifully rendered and come to life slowly on the pages as their descriptions are layered throughout the narrative.
The Doll Factory would have to be one of the creepiest books I have read. An ominous feeling hangs in the air and even though I knew what was coming, when the scenes unfolded they were disturbingly unsettling. 

About the author

Elizabeth Macneal was born in Scotland and now lives in East London. She is a writer and potter and works from a small studio at the bottom of her garden. She read English Literature at Oxford University, before working in the City for several years. In 2017, she completed the Creative Writing MA at UEA where she was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury scholarship. The Doll Factory, Elizabeth's debut novel, won the Caledonia Novel Award 2018.

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