The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal – Book Review





The Doll Factory, the debut novel by Elizabeth Macneal, is an intoxicating story of art, obsession and possession.

London. 1850. The Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and among the crowd watching the spectacle two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning. 

When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love.

But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening…


Set in 1850 London,  Iris and her twin sister Rose, who is scarred by smallpox are working long long hours for the spiteful owner of a doll shop. Sewing beads and trimmings onto dolls clothes made by much poorer locals, and painting dolls faces to be like their intended owners, many of these deceased young girls. 

Iris then meets Louis, an artist and a member of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, she agrees to model for him as long as he agrees to teach her to paint.

Another character, Silas Reed is obsessed with taxidermy. He is often brought ‘Road Kill’ by a young urchin, and when he is brought conjoined puppies he is thrilled. 

He is introduced to Iris by the young urchin and Silas is attracted to her slightly misshapen collarbone and becomes obsessed with her. 

Elizabeth Macneal has written an incredibly evocative gothic tale of Victorian London at a time of advances in both technology, art and new ideals, but still dealing with the abject poverty and squalor for those less fortunate.

The absolutely chilling, gruesome portrayal of Silas’ damaged mind is so well done it gives you the shivers, and you will want to read it with all the lights on…marvellously creepy.

I would like to thank the Author/the Publishers/NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a fair and honest review

#TheDollFactory #NetGalley

The Doll  Factory


by Elizabeth Macneal

Pan  Macmillan  


General Fiction (Adult) , Historical Fiction


About The Author

Elizabeth Macneal was born in Edinburgh and now lives in East London. She is a writer and potter and works from a small studio at the bottom of her garden. She read English Literature at Oxford University, before working in the City for several years. In 2017, she completed the Creative Writing MA at UEA in 2017 where she was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury scholarship.

The Doll Factory, Elizabeth’s debut novel, won the Caledonia Noel Award 2018. It will be published in twenty-eight languages and TV rights have sold to Buccaneer Media

(details from Goodreads)





The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz – Book Review


Death, deception, and a detective with quite a lot to hide stalk the pages of Anthony Horowitz’s brilliant new murder mystery, the second in the bestselling series starring Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne. 


‘You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late… ’

These, heard over the phone, were the last recorded words of successful celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce, found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3,000, to be precise.

Odd, considering he didn’t drink. Why this bottle? And why those words? And why was a three-digit number painted on the wall by the killer? And, most importantly, which of the man’s many, many enemies did the deed?

Baffled, the police are forced to bring in Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, the author Anthony, who’s really getting rather good at this murder investigation business.

But as Hawthorne takes on the case with characteristic relish, it becomes clear that he, too, has secrets to hide. As our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case, he realises that these secrets must be exposed – even at the risk of death…


I love the way this is written, the fiction mixed with fact, it’s just so original and entertaining.

Anthony Horowitz is an author, who works alongside the investigator Daniel Hawthorne, an ex-police officer, because he is in a 3 Book contract to document the crimes and investigations he is looking into.

He’s not sure if he likes Daniel, due to his manner,  casual homophobia and racism, but he is an excellent investigator and they get mixed up in all sorts of scrapes, with Anthony usually coming off worse.

There are mentions of Horowitz real life work, on tv series such as Midsomer Murder and Foyles War and his books like the Alex Rider series, which all lend such a feeling of reality you forget this is fiction.

The characters are all so believable, I really want to know more about Hawthorne and his background as I’m sure there’s more to come. The story itself is fast paced and with its touches of humour is totally engaging and has the great twists and turns of a classic whodunnit. I can thoroughly recommend it.

I would like to thank the Author/the Publishers/NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a fair and honest review

#TheSentenceIsDeath #NetGalley