I came across The Doll while strolling through my library. It caught my interest immediately thanks to its potential serial killer theme and its very creepy cover image. Written by Icelandic author, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, The Doll has been translated for its English-language audience by Victoria Cribb.
Without further ado, let’s jump right into the review of this thriller.
Years ago, a mother takes her young daughter on a fishing trip – an opportunity for the girl to bond with her mother after the devastating loss of her father. They catch nothing but a horrific broken doll that has spent years in the ocean. The mother wants to return it to the seabed, but the young girl’s pleading forces her to bring it home. That night, the mother posts an image of the doll on social media. That night, the mother dies… and the doll disappears.
Present day, Detective Huldar is investigating the identity and cause of death of a skeleton pulled out of the ocean. As the case inches forward, he is drawn into another one – a homeless drug addict’s violent murder. Children’s Home psychologist, Freyja, is assisting in the investigation of a third case – child abuse by the caretaker in a foster care home. As Freyja and Huldar end up helping each other with their cases, they discover that all three are linked by a single person, a vulnerable and missing witness – the young girl who found and kept the doll all those years ago.
Freyja and Huldar frantically search for the girl. But will they be able to untangle the cases as they get increasingly convoluted, or will their failure lead to the loss of more lives?
7 out of 10 stars
9 out of 10 stars
9 out of 10 stars
8 out of 10 stars for its thrill; 9 out of 10 stars for its mystery
8 out of 10 stars
Part of a Series:
Yes, this is Book #5 in the Freyja and Huldar series, also called the Children’s House series. There are 6 books in the series, all of which have been translated into English by Victoria Cribb for the UK market (available outside of the UK too) between 2017 and 2022.
However, it can be read as a standalone. There are some references to past events, but nothing that seemed like a massive spoiler.
Primarily a police procedural, The Doll offers a few nightmares, excellent mystery, and engaging suspense, making it the entire package for fans of crime fiction.
What I Liked:
While The Doll is an interesting read overall, some things do stand out:
- good characterization, unaffected by the fact that this book is mid-series,
- multiple storylines that come together well for a complex yet clean mystery,
- great cultural and practical insight into the Icelandic region
What I Didn’t Like:
There was nothing that was pointedly wrong with The Doll. The only thing that didn’t make it a 10 out of 10 star rating for me was that it was a good book, but it wasn’t as good as other thrillers and police-procedurals I’ve read.
Who Should Read It:
If you like crime fiction with a creepy touch, suspense, or thrillers, you should definitely try The Doll. You will probably discover an author you may not have followed so far, but whose books may just make it on your list of series to catch up on.
Who Should Avoid:
If you don’t like gore or violence, I would recommend avoiding this one. It’s not got a lot of blood and mayhem, but the few bits that get a bit graphic can be a bit much if you’re not a fan.
Read It For:
Learning about a different culture, and a multi-layered mystery that holds you till the last page.
I’ve read a few translated works, especially by Nordic authors – The Bat by Jo Nesbø and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson being two that come to mind. I’ve enjoyed both authors’ works. And now, I can definitely say that Yrsa Sigurdardottir is another author to watch if you like crime fiction and thrillers. I’m definitely going to be catching up on the previous books in the Children’s House series.
If you’d like to get your own copy of The Doll, you can buy it (with free global shipping) here. And if you’d like to start with the first book in the series, The Legacy, instead, you can buy a copy here.
Got recommendations on thrillers or crime fiction you’d like to share? Drop us a comment below. And as always, thank you for stopping at The Book Review Statoin for your book review break.
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