Bad Dolls by Rachel Harrison
|Bad Dolls by Rachel Harrison|
|Category: Short Stories|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Not a book to elicit any jumps or squawks as you read, but it does have stories that get into your head and leave you feeling unsettled for some time afterwards.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 192||Date: September 2023|
|Publisher: Titan Books|
|External links: Author's website|
It's been some time since I've read any horror. I had a couple of misspent teen years reading Stephen King, borrowing the books from a boy I fancied at school and scaring myself half silly with them to the point that I couldn't shut my bedroom curtains at night for fear of the vampires outside! Don't worry - this short story collection isn't like that! It doesn't have those jump scares, and I didn't have to read it during daylight hours only! But it is creepy, and I found most of that feeling came from the fact that these are stories about women, living normal lives, and that at least in part, the horrors arises from very normal situations such as a breakup, trying a new dieting app, going to a hen party and a coping with grief.
The first story revolves around a magic 8 ball that starts giving more answers than the owner is expecting. It's a brilliant idea for a story, seeming funny initially rather than scary. The sense of dread builds with the story as the magic 8 ball starts to dictate what should happen in the woman's life. This line between humour and horror continues through the book, as much of the hen party story seems funny until all of a sudden it really isn't.
I would note a trigger warning with the dieting story as it involves bulimia, and a lot of the story revolves around that. Again it teeters between humour and horror. I very much liked the ending of that one. The stories also manage to capture a lot of emotion. The final one, which revolves around someone whose little sister has died, is really quite moving at times. I think that's probably why I enjoyed the book, because even with the constraints of a short story, Harrison manages to create almost instantly real and relatable characters, and you can very quickly imagine their situations, and understand something of their lives.
The bad doll of the book's title only appears in the final tale, and I have to say that was the one that unsettled me most. I could easily imagine this crazy doll, and in my head I was pretty much yelling at the character to get rid of that doll as soon as possible! I guess if you had a similar sounding doll in your house then it might leave you feeling freaked out! But it is also an interesting look at a grieving family, and I really wanted to know what would happen to them all, and how things would end.
Whilst this is only a short collection of just four stories, Rachel Harrison writes in such a way that you are immediately drawn into each one, and they are layered, interesting and written in an engaging way. I read the whole book in just two sittings, because I found once I'd started a story, I wanted to read all the way to the end without interruptions. And I have found myself still thinking about the stories since I finished them, so she definitely gets into your head as you read. I definitely want to take a look at some of the other things she has written.
For more short story horror, you might also like to try The Trees Grew Because I Bled There by Eric LaRocca.
You can read more book reviews or buy Bad Dolls by Rachel Harrison at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Bad Dolls by Rachel Harrison at Amazon.com.
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