Author: Anya Allyn
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: September 30, 2012
Publishing House: The Studio
Source of Copy: Requested from publisher via NetGalley
(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary courtesy of NetGalley)
When Cassie's best friend, Aisha, disappears during a school hike, Cassie sets off with Aisha's boyfriend Ethan and their best friend Lacey, determined to find her. But the mist-enshrouded mountains hold many secrets, and what the three teens discover is far more disturbing than any of them imagined: beneath a rundown mansion in the woods lies an underground cavern full of life-size toys and kidnapped girls forced to dress as dolls.
Even as Cassie desperately tries to escape the Dollhouse, she finds herself torn between her forbidden feelings for Ethan, and her intense, instinctive attraction to The Provider, a man Cassie swears she has known before...
Because Cassie's capture wasn't accidental, and the Dollhouse is more than just a prison where her deepest fears come true - it's a portal for the powers of darkness. And Cassie may be the only one who can stop it.
What horror movie characters lack for depth and some interesting back stories, the actual psych-you-out stuff more than makes up for it. It is, after all, kind of hard to feel some sort of connection to someone who's either being wigged out by some paranormal, psychological stuff, or who ends up being killed just twenty minutes into the movie.
Dollhouse is like that, given that the creeptastic factor of the actual Dollhouse is actually the kind of flick Hollywood dreams are made of - if only its slew of characters weren't so darned caught up in their teenage drama, despite all the paranormal stuff that's been happening around them. (Come on, you guys. You can resume that catfight when you're outside, and not dead.)
When Cassie's best friend Aisha disappears, all fingers are pointed at Ethan, Aisha's boyfriend. Cassie knows that Ethan can't be involved in her disappearance, juvenile delinquent or no. The only way to clear Ethan's name is to find Aisha, and the only way to do that is to comb the mountains where she disappeared during the school hike. But these teens find more when they bargain for when they stumble across a decrepit house, with a different kind of horror awaiting them inside.
Earlier, I remarked upon the creepiness factor of Dollhouse. It's like this: Think about the last horror movie you watched that involved dolls (Child's Play? Annabelle?) and take note that since this is a book where everything is fleshed out and described in very attentive detail, everything is basically playing out in your mind. Which I think, is just as bad since it amps up the creepiness factor. Live, moving dolls that beat you up when you're misbehaving? Check. A girl who forces every teenager to act like a doll? Got it. Err, ancient Greek paranormal stuff? ...Yup.
While I was morbidly fascinated with how eerie and messed-up this whole scenario was, I was still iffy about the teenagers and their little romantic drama, given that they may not even make it out alive out of that house. The paranormal Greek thing was a bit out of sorts so while it did magnify the creep factor, it didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.
Dollhouse is still a bit fresh in my memory simply because I was really surprised at how disturbing the whole shebang was. The actual dollhouse set-up was golden for macabre-fans like me, but the forgettable characters and random plot twists was too much for me.