Book #4 of World’s Scariest Places series (CAN BE READ OUT OF ORDER)
Published by Ghillinnein Books (27th March 2016)
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Actual rating of 2.75
When a young man accompanies his wife, his brother in law and partner, and a good friend who just so happens to be a documentary film maker to the Island of the Dolls, he’s thinking that they’ll see some creepy stuff, get some good shots and be back on their way home before mid afternoon. What he’s not prepared for is a storm to trap them on the island, or to stumble across a young girl who has been left alone after something untoward happened to her brother. The legend of the island speaks of the ghost of a girl who died a tragic death, the dolls a way to appease her spirit. Could a ghost really be responsible for the strange happenings that befall the group? Or is it something more sinister.
I went on a bit of a Jeremy Bates binge after reading Mountain of the Dead which is a book based around the Dyatlov Pass incident of 1959. Island of the dolls grabbed me because hey, who isn’t creeped out by dolls? Team that with a legend about a supposedly haunted island, and I am in.
The story begins with the group heading out to the island so that one of them can make a documentary for a television show. They expect to be out there and back before nightfall, however their trip is thrown into turmoil when a storm blows in, trapping them without a boatman to get them back home. Team that with the growing tension between the characters as well as the secrets that begin to come out, sprinkle on a bit of terror for good measure, and you’ve got a recipe for one hell of a ride.
The story is told through alternating story lines. One in the 1950s following a young girl who has a learning disability, and the present day romp through the island of the creepy dolls. I had a feeling on how the two story lines were connected, but I didn’t have it completely right. The way that things happen was not what I was expecting once the big reveal came about and I had no idea that this was how things would play out. So that’s always good. I will say though, that I was hoping for (view spoiler) Though I end up continuing on through Bates’ catalogue because he is exceptional at his craft and he does write really good horror. He has a way of really putting you in the characters shoes, making you feel empathy with the characters, and his ability to give me the creeps as he sets up the atmosphere in a story is truly enjoyable.
The characters in this one weren’t super likeable. I found that the protagonist was having a bit of a pity party for a lot of the story, though I still sympathised with him for the most part. The main character that I liked was the brother in law’s wife, a Russian nanny living in Mexico. I really enjoyed her backstory and character development, though I still question at times what the point of including her backstory was, it didn’t overly add anything to the plot in my opinion.
You could feel the tension between the characters from the beginning, so I had a strong feeling on how things were going to play out, just not the EXACT how. So while this was an enjoyable enough read, at times it still felt like a bit of a slog, the pacing dropped in parts which made it harder to get through. Out of all of Bates’ books that I have read thus far, this is probably my least favourite. Though I’m still glad that I gave it a go.
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