In the title story, a young boy becomes obsessed with his cousin's doll after she tragically passes away from leukemia. Read more...
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In the title story, a young boy becomes obsessed with his cousin's doll after she tragically passes away from leukemia. As he grows older, he begins to collect "found dolls" from the surrounding neighborhoods and stores his treasures in the abandoned carriage house on his family's estate. But just what kind of dolls are they? In "Gun Accident," a teenage girl is thrilled when her favorite teacher asks her to house-sit, even on short notice. But when an intruder forces his way into the house while the girl is there, the fate of more than one life is changed forever. In "Equatorial," set in the exotic Galapagos, an affluent American wife experiences disorienting assaults upon her sense of who her charismatic husband really is, and what his plans may be for her.
In The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror, Joyce Carol Oates evokes the "fascination of the abomination" that is at the core of the most profound, the most unsettling, and the most memorable of dark mystery fiction.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-03-07
- Reviewer: Staff
Oates (Jack of Spades) convincingly demonstrates her mastery of the macabre with this superlative story collection. Though the titular opening tale sets the creepy tone, narrator Robbie, who starts stealing dolls as an eighth grader, is odd enough that its denouement is less surprising than it could have been. More effective is the Hitchcockian “Equatorial,” in which Mrs. Wheeling, her husband’s third wife, begins to suspect during an excursion to the Galapagos that her scientist spouse may be trying to clear the decks for the fourth Mrs. Wheeling; Oates deftly manipulates the reader through this novella, in part by doling out key bits of backstory that dramatically shift the narrative kaleidoscope. And she truly hits her stride in the stories rooted in apparent normalcy, as in the George Zimmerman riff “Soldier,” and “Big Momma,” in which angry, unloved 13-year-old Violet ends up taking a horrific turn from the Jersey suburbs into the Twilight Zone. This devil’s half-dozen of dread and suspense is a must read. Agent: Warren Frazier, John Hawkins & Associates. (May)