Book Review: Dollhouse by Anya Allyn

21797165Title: Dollhouse

Author: Anya Allyn

Genre: YA Gothic Horror

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Four teenagers chance across a mysterious, crumbling mansion in the depths of the mountains….
– One of them is about to vanish.
– One of them is lying about what he or she knows.
– None of them will escape the fate awaiting them in the terrifying Dollhouse beneath the old mansion–a place of nightmarish horrors and insanity.

A slow-burn nightmare, a world of supernatural darkness and strange secrets.

Six months ago, fifteen-year-old Cassie Claiborne reluctantly moved from her home in Florida with her social worker mom. In her new home–a remote, mountainous Australian town, Cassie meets new friends–Aisha Dumaj, Ethan McAllister and Lacey Dougherty.

For the first time, Cassie falls in love. The only problem is that the boy she falls for is her friend, Ethan–and he and Aisha are already an item. When Cassie goes on a school hike to Devils Hole with her new friends, she tries desperately to keep her feelings for Ethan secret.

Aisha disappears on the hike without a trace–with the police believing she was murdered.

When Cassie, Ethan and Lacey return to the mountains to search for Aisha–Cassie begins to realize she never really knew any of her friends. Everyone has their own secrets. She discovers the stranger lurking inside everyone she thought she knew.

The darkest secret of all waits beneath the old mansion in the mountains–a secret from which there is no escape….

Dollhouse is unique, thrilling, well-written, and one of the most original novels I’ve read in ages. Not recommended to people who are terrified of dolls or clowns, but to everyone else – this book is amazing! If only the ending wasn’t such a cliffhanger, and if some parts of it weren’t so completely and utterly confusing – seriously, I had to reread some paragraph three or four times – then this would’ve been my favorite book ever. But as it stands now, it’s still pretty good, and highly original, just not as spellbinding as it could’ve been.

Anyway, the story starts out pretty simple. Cassie, and three of her friends, have gone on a trip across the nearby mountain for a school project, when they find a dilipidated mansion, in the middle of nowhere. Aisha goes missing, and the police quickly suspects Ethan, Aisha’s boyfriend and Cassie’s secret crush. When Ethan goes up the mountain to try and find Aisha, Cassie and Lacey follow him, trying to help. But once they venture inside the mansion, they find something so twisted and messed up, they never could’ve imagined it.

This book is scary, even if it doesn’t try to be. Some of the imagery is so well-described, and so twisted, that it scared me to the bone. It’s gothic horror at its finest, never gross, never grotesque, but atmospheric and creepy all the same. The plot is so original – I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t saying anything else, except, well, be prepared for an amazing plot that’ll leave you jealous, and wishing you’d come up with something like that yourself. The writing is great, the characters all seem very real, and I never knew what to expect next.

This is gothic horror the way it’s spposed to be. I can’t wait to read the sequel. As soon as it’s on Netgalley, I’m getting my hands on that book. I need to know what happens next.

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