The Doll is a graphically written creepy short story that packs a big punch into its 30 or so pages and will leave you with a healthy distrust of dolls. In my opinion, JC Martin’s gem is a must-read for any aficionado of horror stories.
While it’s not the most groundbreaking story I’ve ever read – the basic premise has been done before – The Doll is an addicting and haunting tale with a twist. I read it in one sitting (in daylight!) and would definitely read more from this author.
The story opens like a movie scene. Joyce Parker is on vacation with her daughter, Taylor, and one of their stops is “The Island of the Dolls” in Mexico. It’s a strange and eerie tourist destination where hundreds of dolls hang from trees in various stages of decomposition and disarray in tribute to a little girl who drowned on the island.
The tour guide tells the story of the young Salvadora and Don Santana who built the shrine of dolls for her. The guide also warns them not to touch anything on the island – to do so is prohibited and would cause bad luck – before letting the party look around.
Naturally, a mocking tourist disregards the guide and grabs the dolls to pose for a picture. He later drowns in his swimming pool after returning home from the vacation.
Spooked by the island and the death of the tourist, Joyce is relieved that neither she nor her daughter touched any of the dolls. Or so she thought. She’s in for a big shock after returning home to the States, when a startling discovery is made.
Strange things begin happening, all based around the dolls and the island. Joyce notices a change in Taylor and the appearance of a new imaginary friend, Salvadora. This is also the name of the beautiful but sinister doll that Taylor stole from the island and snuck home.
Joyce digs into the legends surrounding the shrine on the island and doesn’t like what she finds. Terrified by the circumstances and heeding the tour guide’s caution, Joyce decides she has no other option but to return the doll to the island…
The Doll is a story of intrigue and suspense with some seriously dark and ghostly connotations. It’s an expertly woven tale that carries you into the horrifying, but believable, world Martin has created. Isla de las Munecas is an actual place located in the Xochimilco canals, about 28 km south of Mexico City.
The author deserves a lot of credit and respect for the amount of research about Palo Mayombe: The Dark Side of Santeria. She has woven into the story without sounding like a tourist brochure. I liked how the story moved from dark and strange at the start to eerily grim at the end. If you weren’t afraid of dolls before reading, you’ll see dolls in a new light after…
The Doll will haunt you long after you’ve finished reading it. The book has staying power and that’s what lies at the heart of every great read. I recommend it. At the time of writing this review, the book is still free on Amazon and has a four-star rating from 1,550 reviews, so what are you waiting for?