Book reviews

The Dollmaker by Nina Allen – Book Review



Fuses the fantastic and the mundane to great effect’ The Guardian

‘A fantastic book, revealing a zone of wonder and a world of truth’ Andrew O’Hagan, author of The Illuminations.


Stitch by perfect stitch, Andrew Garvie makes exquisite dolls in the finest antique style. Like him, they are diminutive, but graceful, unique and with surprising depths. Perhaps that’s why he answers the enigmatic personal ad in his collector’s magazine.

Letter by letter, Bramber Winters reveals more of her strange, sheltered life in an institution on Bodmin Moor, and the terrible events that put her there as a child. Andrew knows what it is to be trapped; and as they knit closer together, he weaves a curious plan to rescue her.

On his journey through the old towns of England he reads the fairytales of Ewa Chaplin – potent, eldritch stories which, like her lifelike dolls, pluck at the edges of reality and thread their way into his mind. When Andrew and Bramber meet at last, they will have a choice – to remain alone with their painful pasts or break free and, unlike their dolls, come to life.

A love story of two very real, unusual people, The Dollmaker is also a novel rich with wonders: Andrew’s quest and Bramber’s letters unspool around the dark fables that give our familiar world an uncanny edge. It is this touch of magic that, like the blink of a doll’s eyes, tricks our own . . .



The Dollmaker is a love story.

It is it the story of Andrew and Bramber, told gradually through Bramber’s letters to Andrew. They build a slow, strange and dreadful picture of her life in the institution and the two of them become closer.

Meanwhile, on his travels, Andrew is reading the short stories of Ewa Chaplin, another doll maker and writer, he finds her stories as bewitching as her dolls.

The story does jump at times between the two tales, but this really adds to the atmosphere and the odd flow to the story.

I felt while this is a love story, it’s all about our differences and how we should embrace this and just be ourselves and try not to pass judgement on others. There is a little sci-fi /fantasy feel here too, which adds to the marvellous atmosphere.

This is a wonderful, original and unique tale and I can thoroughly recommend it… clubs will love it too.

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


due for publication on 4 April 2019

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