The Doll Factory By Elizabeth MacNeal

The Doll Factory By Elizabeth MacNeal Books We've Been Reading Blogger Link Up


Title: The Doll Factory, Author: Elizabeth MacNeal, Pages: 384, Published by: Picador, Publication Date: 2nd May 2019, ISBN: 978-1529002393

Iris and Rose spend their days creating dolls for the oppressive and most often comatose, Mrs Salter. Though fortunate to be employed, the passionate and creative Iris longs for more than the monotonous life she currently leads. Iris yearns to escape, to paint more than doll faces. She wishes to paint freely and with no constraints- to be an artist in her own right.

Could a chance encounter with Silas Reed, collector, taxidermist and prop creator for the Pre-Raphealite Brotherhood set Iris on the path to freedom? Will love, life and art blossom? Or is death and decay the only fate for those that wander the dark, dank streets of Victorian London?

The Doll Factory is set in 1850s London and I would class it as historical fiction, not a genre I have much experience of reading. If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that I usually go for dystopian fiction so this book is quite a departure for me. I struggled to get into the book but once I'd got passed the first few chapters and acclimatized myself to historical fiction I flew through the remainder of the book.

The plot focuses on several key characters and explores how their lives intertwine. The main characters are Iris and Rose, two sisters of very different opinions. Silas, taxidermist and collector of unique abnormalities. Louis, affluent artist and member of the Pre-Raphealite Brother hood and young Albie, a kind, friendly street urchin that'll do anything to protect those he loves. The characters are incredibly well written and fleshed out perfectly. Albie's character in particular is very well established and very believable. I was less keen on the character of Louis as I found him less developed and harder to relate to. The character of Silas is perhaps my favourite as he's very complex and provides the reader with a challenge. The characters and their life stories are are all very different but they merge together exceptionally well. Elizabeth MacNeal has done an excellent job of capturing the differing types of Victorian society and has knitting them together into a cohesive, believable plot. 

The story is told from several points of view but the plot remains clear and easy to understand. The key themes throughout this book are freedom, expression and obsession. Don't be deterred by the historical fiction genre as this book has the darkness and pace of a psychological thriller. I particularly liked this books delivery of key details. Each character has a hidden past that is slowly revealed to the reader. Through each page you learn more and the story fits together better. It's like water dripping into a bowl until it's full. It's satisfying and I found myself needing to read more, sneaking off to bed that little bit earlier to fit more in.

The fact it is set in Victorian London didn't really appeal to me, I think that's why it took me a while to get through the first few chapters, I anticipated something Dickensian that didn't pack a punch. I was wrong. There is certainly comparisons to be made with Dickens in that the sights, sounds and smells of London are as evocative as his but the intricacies in MacNeal's characters and the slowly rounding out of story line elevates this and makes it appeal to modern readers.

Overall I think this is a really well written novel. It has a well thought out and well executed plot and characters that stay with you long beyond the final page. It is suspenseful and evocative and I would recommend it to thriller fans as much as I would to historical fiction fans.

Thanks For Reading,


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1 comment:

  1. This book makes me think of this miniseries with miniatures in the title that came out a couple years ago...I can't think of the name sadly. cheers for the review #KCACOLS

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