Rating: 3 Stars
Synopsis via Goodreads:
The first things to shift were the doll’s eyes, the beautiful grey-green glass eyes. Slowly they swivelled, until their gaze was resting on Triss’s face. Then the tiny mouth moved, opened to speak.
‘What are you doing here?’ It was uttered in tones of outrage and surprise, and in a voice as cold and musical as the clinking of cups. ‘Who do you think you are? This is my family.’
When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; her sister seems scared of her and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out.
Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest find the truth she must travel into the terrifying Underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family – before it’s too late…
I’m seriously in the minority here, but I just didn’t care for this.
“But scissors are really intended for one job alone – snipping things in two. Dividing by force. Everything on one side or the other, and nothing in between.”
The characters, setting, creepiness, uniqueness? All perfection.
But . . . there was just something missing for me. Something just didn’t click with me for this book, and I found myself wishing multiple times that the story was just over already. I had to make myself finish the book.
Which is awful, because this really had all the parts I like in a book. This should have worked for me.
This story is truly creepy. Moving dolls, an insatiable hunger of a thirteen-year-old girl that isn’t just for food, missing her memory, a little sister screaming at all times that Triss is wrong, that she’s not really her . . .
Every character matters in this story. There are no background characters. I love that.
The historical aspect of it was fantastic as well. A family torn apart by the loss of their son, who died right when he should have been coming home from the war. The things that can peak out in the dead of night in a historical England, old tall-tales and myths haunting grieving parents and whatnot.
It was all done to perfection.
“Perhaps illnesses could be left behind, just like small, badly concealed china corpses.”
A healthy dose of feminism was thrown in as well. Violet, the ex-fiance of the son lost in the war, who got a taste of freedom during the war when women had to help out in the workforce while the sons and husbands were dying in the snow. Her oddness at cutting her hair and not wearing the proper clothes and riding her motorcycle in an age women are only seen as dainty and full of swooning.
A shout out to good ol’ jazz and shorter skirts and calling a girl ill because she’s a little different.
“Believe me, I do understand that. And let me tell you – from one monster to another – that just because somebody tells you you’re a monster, it doesn’t mean you are.”
The family dynamics were perfectly done. A family that takes grieve and pain and wraps it all up in silent conversations and hidden truths and don’t-ask-don’t-tell about the ghost in the empty bedroom upstairs full of boy-ish things that will forever be an untouched museum.
It hit close to home. It’s full of sadness and parents who will never listen for no other reason than they could never bare to be wrong, because they’re grown ups and important and they’re parents, and therefore nothing could ever be wrong.
“Oh, why don’t we blame it on Pen?” Not-Triss heard herself snap, in a voice that sounded harsher and more brutal than her own. something had burst, and the words welled up in spite of all her attempts to dam them. “That’s what we always do, isn’t it? That’s what she’s for, isn’t it? We blame everything on Pen and then we change the subject. And nothing matters as long as we don’t talk about it.”
So why didn’t I like this more? I don’t really know. All the right factors and parts are here to make up a great book, but I never really loved reading about any of it.
That’s as good as I’ve got.