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Book: The Dollhouse Murders

October 12, 2009

I saw this on a few “Best Scary Books For Kids” lists and thought a good quick spooky read might be just the thing.

And it was.

As soon as I opened this book, I realized that I’d read it long, long ago, back when I was actually a kid. But of course I didn’t remember what happened, so it was still a good read.

I’m sure it was quite scary back in the day, but of course now it was only sort of scary in theory. However, I have a thing about inanimate objects coming to life (it’s pretty high on my Scariest Things Ever list), so the scenes where the dolls are moving about were kind of freaky.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Amy, age 12, has a developmentally disabled sister (or, as the book jacket puts it, retarded. Oh, those pre-PC days of 1983…). After one friend too many ditches her because of her sister, she has had enough. She goes to stay with her Aunt Clare in a mysterious old house on the outskirts of town, owned by Amy’s great-grandparents. Up in the attic, Amy discovers a dollhouse — a perfect miniature of the big house she is staying in. It was Clare’s when she was a girl. Amy loves miniatures and is entranced. Clare gives off weird vibes every time the dollhouse is mentioned. What’s up, Clare?

Well, eventually we find out. The dolls try to tell Amy. They move around at night, with little scribble-scrabble mouse noises. Amy (and her sister, once her sister comes to spend the night) actually see the dolls moving, obviously trying to tell them something. Something about the murders… right here, in the big house.

So, the little scratching mouse noises (which are actually the dolls) is pretty creepy. The murders themselves — eh, not so creepy. The story is a good one for a kid who wants a few chills this time of year. I actually liked Aunt Clare a lot. Her parents died, her grandparents died, and her fiancee died, all before age 18. That’s a lot of bad stuff. She has some issues, clearly. But she’s a pretty cool aunt.

Anyway — this was a good super-quick before-bed read. Not exactly YA, but still fun.

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