BOOK REVIEW: Broken Dolls by Tyrolin Puxty
Curiosity Quills Press
Paperback, $19.99 USD
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell
I don’t remember being human. Probably because I don’t want to. The professor tells me how cumbersome the body is and how aches and pains are a way of life. He says this way, I’ll never feel any pain and can dance for as long as I like, never growing old, never changing my joints.
He calls me his little broken doll.
Ella lives out her days in the Professor’s attic; dancing, watching television, acting out her adventures for the tape recorder during her imagination time.
She loves her time with the professor, but he can’t be with her at every moment so he’s made her a friend. But there’s something wrong with this new goth doll, Lisa. She’s asking all sorts of questions about the Professor, and how exactly he makes people into dolls, and she’s starting to really scare Ella.
She heaves a brush from the tub and awkwardly maneuvers it into one of the colors, but I can’t make out which one in the dark. Before I have time to object, she presses her eye into the tip. “I don’t have blue eyes!” She shrieks, blinding herself further when she pushes her other eye into the brush. “He made me have blue eyes! They’re not mine! THEY’RE NOT MINE!”
With Lisa hiding out somewhere in the walls of the house, a failed attempt to keep Ella from being lonely, the Professor introduces Ella to Gabby; a real, living girl. The Professor’s granddaughter.
“Do you ever get the feeling that we might be related?” I ask softly, hoping I haven’t said anything out of line.
“All the time.” Gabby’s smile is as frank as it is contagious. “You said Sianne kept saying she was your mother. If she was, wouldn’t that make us, like, second cousins or something?”
“I’ve always wanted a cousin!” I giggle when Gabby picks me up and squeezes tightly. “Maybe we could pretend to be cousins? Would that be weird? It’d be nice to at least act like I have a family…”
“That’s not weird.” Gabby adjusts the clip in my hair. “Let’s just say we’re cousins.”
And with more dolls coming out of the woodwork, Ella is starting to dream, starting to remember, and she’s beginning to wonder if maybe Lisa is onto something.
Broken Dolls has some simply gorgeous imagery and a really interesting idea behind it all, offering up a quick and pretty engaging read.
But there were a few issues, for this reader, when it came to the disconnect between the themes and the style of writing.
Some of the themes within were pretty grown-up, but the writing (and the length) felt more middle-grade, the plot as a whole would not be out of place in a YA setting, and the dialogue could be a little wooden at times, with the characters sounding more like they were out of the early twentieth century than the present day.
The first half of the book offers up enough lovely imagery and intriguing questions to keep you reading on, but the second half is where it really shines. The second half of this book is much tighter than the first, and you will find it hard to put down as all the pieces finally come together.
Because of the confusion over the different age indicators in this story, this would be a good read for an intelligent/mature middle-grader through to the younger of the young adults.
All in all, not a mindblowing read, but I am certainly intrigued and am eager to get my hands on the next book in the series, Shattered Girls.
As an actress, model, singer/songwriter, performing arts school owner, and now an author, 23-year-old Puxty’s obviously got a lot of talent and some interesting ideas, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for her future works.
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