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The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg

Posted on the 26 July 2017 by Bubblebathbooks
The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Fifth Doll: After discovering a room full of matryoshka dolls wearing the faces of her village, a woman learns she may be trapped inside one-but unraveling the sorcery carved into each doll unleashes dark consequences that rip her from the only home she remembers.

There are a few rules in the world of fairy tales. One of these rules is, "Don't touch stuff you don't understand!" Luckily for us readers, no one ever follows that rule, including The Fifth Doll 's heroine, Matrona. I can't blame her though. If I went inside the most beautiful house in my neighborhood and found an entire room full of Russian nesting dolls, each painted with the face of one of my neighbors, I'd touch them too.

That doesn't surprise me, because you've always touched all my stuff. Regardless, I always come to those moments, i.e. when Matrona went into the house and started looking around, and I have a little panic inside. I want the protagonist to turn around and go home and not cause trouble, even though I know there will be no story if they do that.

So what, then? Matrona finds a room of creepy dolls in Slava's house, chooses to not touch them, leaves quickly so Slava never knows she was there and marries stupid head Feodor? And life continues as it always has? I'm not reading that book!

I know. No risk, no reward. But my inner Fearful Frannie always goes for the safe, easy out. I'm glad that Matrona was not Frannie. The Fifth Doll, I have to say, was downright eerie, bordering on an M. Night Shamalyan movie, slightly east of horror.

So on a scale of Barney the Dinosaur to Stephen King's IT, you'd rate The Fifth Doll at a particularly good Twilight Zone episode?

Yes. I don't do horror. You mentioned the word "creepy" in terms of the dolls and I'd say The Fifth Doll had just the right amount of creepy and mysterious mixed in with fantasy and Russian folklore to be fully palatable to me. There are also underlying philosophical nuances, such as free will versus idyllic ignorance and parental love versus reality tough love. I enjoyed all of it.

The romantic choices follow that same philosophical pattern. Should Matrona choose Feodor, the safe man who her parents have picked out for her, the one the village approves of? Or should she throw logic to the wind by following her heart and choosing Jaska, a younger and much less suitable man?

Just because you did it doesn't make it right for everyone, you cougar.

Sissy got it going on! Maybe Matrona does too? The thing that must be mentioned is Charlie N. Holmberg's outstanding wordsmithery. She describes things and emotions with otherworldly skill, which is why I use the word "wordsmithery" because it's almost like word sorcery. In previous books she introduced us to paper and glass magicians, among others, but Charlie N. Holmberg is a word magician. Her creative, unique magic and world building in The Fifth Doll proves it.

I love the charming and peaceful Russian village that Matrona lives in. It seems almost too good to be true - perhaps this should have clued me in to what was coming next. I really felt like I was right there in my own little cottage, wearing my sarafan and milking my cow.

Shh. You're ruining my pastoral fantasy. My point is that I was completely drawn into Matrona's world and I didn't want to leave it. I enjoyed the slow-building romantic aspect of the story and Slava was a perfectly complex villain - not entirely evil, but definitely the bad guy. My favorite part of the book was the ever-so-slightly sinister ending. I'd tell you more about it but SPOILERS! There are several authors that, if I was a villain like Slava, I'd want to kidnap and keep in a large mansion, each in their own room, forced to quickly write delicious fiction for me and me alone to savor. (I know, it's really bizarre. Just go with it.) With the addition of The Fifth Doll to her repertoire, Charlie N. Holmberg is now at the top of my list.

That is "I agree" in Russian, dingbat. As in, I agree with what you said about Charlie N. Holmberg in your last paragraph. Readers, you should definitely pick up The Fifth Doll and jump into the most clever twist on a fantasy you'll read this year.

Click to buy The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg

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