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The Doll Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow

Review copy provided by Tor Books.

You can tell from a quick glance at the cover that this is an anthology that will skew towards dark fantasy/horror. The cover does not mislead. So the first thing to know is that I am not the target audience for this book. While Ellen Datlow says in the introduction that she didn’t want any evil doll stories, I thought that at least one of the stories totally qualified as an evil doll story by my standards.

Still, even for someone who is not the target audience, there’s skillful, interesting writing in this volume. Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Doctor Faustus” drew heavily on Mary’s experience as a puppeteer–if you revel in telling detail and vivid accuracy, this is a standout story. I only wish it had had a longer/more complicated plot–I’d love to see more of this sort of thing from Mary. Pat Cadigan’s “In Case of Zebras” was a perfect example of how not every story has to be paced the same way: it unfolded in a way that was appropriate for both its teen narrator and her ER volunteer setting. The heroine was engaging and well-done. Finally, Seanan McGuire’s “There Is No Place for Sorrow in the Kingdom of the Cold” used the doll premise to do serious secret-world worldbuilding, drawing on multiple sources in a way that I found delightful. For someone who is more horror-inclined, I’m sure there will be more stand-outs. It’s still not my sort of thing, but it was in general a very readable anthology.

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