Nov 19, 2019

Review--The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

Dolls can't move by themselves. . . . Or can they?

Special anniversary edition of the hair-raising mystery that's kept readers up at night for thirty-five years. Foreword by Goosebumps creator R.L. STINE and new glow-in-the-dark jacket.

Amy is terrified. She hears scratching and scurrying noises coming from the dollhouse in the attic, and the dolls she was playing with are not where she left them. Dolls can't move by themselves, she tells herself. But every night when Amy goes up to check on the dollhouse, it's filled with an eerie light and the dolls have moved again! Are the dolls trying to tell her something? Could this all be connected to the murders of her great-grandparents?

Sinister secrets unravel as Amy gets closer to revealing the mystery of the dolls in this haunting novel that combines complicated family relationships with a bone-chilling mystery. Readers will want to keep the lights on after finishing!

So I snuck in a quick little read as I ended up finishing my last book sooner than anticipated! The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright found itself on my TBR pile just a few months ago. I never read this one growing up, but I did watch the movie version of it quite a few times as a kid...and was thoroughly terrified of dollhouses ever since! Especially the one we had in our basement and everyone knows basements are on par with attics on the creepiness level! Lol.

This story revolves around Amy, a young girl on the path to teenage-dom, who wants to escape the responsibilities of her younger sister, Louann who has mental health issues. So note that this book published in 1983 and there wasn't a whole lot of sensitivity for people with mental health issues. In fact, a lot of people in Amy's life treat Louann a little harshly because of something she can't control. And though Amy loves her sister, she sometimes just wants a break from having to take care of her all the time. So she finds herself escaping to her Aunt Clare's house for the last few weeks of school and even convinces her parents to let her stay with Aunt Clare so she can have a break from Louann.

Clare is trying to clean out her grandparents old house, they died a long time ago and the house has been sitting on its own for awhile and she and her brother, Amy's dad, are likely wanting to sell it. While helping her aunt clean, Amy discovers a delightful dollhouse in the attic that's a replica of the very house her aunt is living in now. The dolls are even of her great-grandparents, and Clare and her father, Paul.

But then something strange begins to happen with the dollhouse. Amy swears she sees one of the dolls moving! Then there's the mystery of her great-grandparents that her aunt seems to be keeping from her, so naturally, Amy decides to do a little digging herself. But some secrets might be better kept left in the dark.

This was a quick little read, being a middle grade read. I was able to read it all within a day! It was pretty unputdownable! And I have to say, the movie even did a great job with the telling! I mean I haven't watched it in a few years. Tracking down a copy of it was hard even back then as it was never put into DVD format. I did discover that it's up on Youtube! It's called Secrets in the Attic if you're interested! It's from the 90s and I believe it was in relation to Lifetime, so you can expect full 90s Lifetime corniness! Lol! But it was also pretty terrifying because my older sister agreed, you will never look at dollhouses the same way again!

The mystery was as I remembered it, but it was a different experience reading the movie I rented endlessly from the video store. I mean, it does still give me the creeps in this format too! All the strange noises one hears and then of course the freaking terrifying aspects of the dollhouse and dolls THAT MOVE ON THEIR OWN!!! Lol. I was still surprised by the fact that this is a middle grade book and the movie was likely PG because it's pretty creepy! I mean, obviously not Chuckie or Anabelle creepy--two movies I will never ever ever see because I was already scarred by creepy dolls, but it was still a pretty creepy read. Definitely not one to read when you're up late at night in an older house!

There's also a pretty good sibling story going on. While it seems like Amy is being selfish at times, and I do think she is here and there, I also can commiserate with her, because it does seem like she has to do a lot of babysitting and never gets any time for just herself and her friends. Everyone needs a little me time after all.

As with the movie's ending, I was still a touch disappointed with this one. I do feel like the movie did a better job with expanding upon the feelings about all the reveals and develing into that. I feel like here, things were quickly glossed over and that's that.

The Dollhouse Murders would definitely be recommended for young readers looking to get into the creepy or ghosty or mystery reads! It's funny because as I was reading, I was recalling the movie in my head as well and I have to say that I was still kind of terrified by it! Lol!

Overall Rating 4/5 stars


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