Review: The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror by Joyce Carol Oates


The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror by Joyce Carol Oates
Grove/Atlantic (ebook), expected publication May 2016
304 Pages

Author Website

Amazon (UK)

I got this ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


From one of our most important contemporary writers, The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror is a bold, haunting collection of six stories.

In the title story, a young boy becomes obsessed with his cousin’s doll after she tragically passes away from leukaemia. As he grows older, he begins to collect “found dolls” from the surrounding neighbourhoods and stores his treasures in the abandoned carriage house on his family’s estate. But just what kind of dolls are they? In “Gun Accident,” a teenage girl is thrilled when her favorite teacher asks her to house-sit, even on short notice. But when an intruder forces his way into the house while the girl is there, the fate of more than one life is changed forever. In “Equatorial,” set in the exotic Galapagos, an affluent American wife experiences disorienting assaults upon her sense of who her charismatic husband really is, and what his plans may be for her.

In The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror, Joyce Carol Oates evokes the “fascination of the abomination” that is at the core of the most profound, the most unsettling, and the most memorable of dark mystery fiction.


‘You can hold her. But don’t drop her’.

Solemnly my little cousin Amy spoke. And solemnly Amy held out to me her beloved doll. (THE DOLL-MASTER)


Joyce Carol Oates is one of my favourite writers. I can’t begin to tell you how delighted I am at being given this ARC. It’s like winning the lottery.

The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror is a collection of six fantastic stories; The Doll-Master, Soldier, Gun Accident: An Investigation, Equatorial, Big Momma and Mystery, Inc. These stories are an example of the author at her finest, on top form. Every story was a joy to read. I thought The Doll-Master was creepy as hell and unsettling – one of those stories where it’s what not written on the page that has the most power, all of the unanswered questions. Gun Accident: An Investigation was incredible and reminded me of the author’s amazing story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? The story was a thrill ride from start to finish. Big Momma gave me chills. My jaw hit the floor when I read the ending and I still haven’t managed to pick it up again. Mystery, Inc is the best story n the collection. It’s crazy and shocking at times with surprising twists. I loved it the most. I thought Soldier and Equatorial were also good but just a smidgen less great than the other stories.




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