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The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror
Cover of The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror
The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror
Winner of the Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association for Superior Achievement in a Fiction CollectionIncluding "Big Momma," a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award for...
Winner of the Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association for Superior Achievement in a Fiction CollectionIncluding "Big Momma," a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award for...
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  • Winner of the Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection
    Including "Big Momma," a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Short Story
    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 leukemia. As he grows older, he begins to collect “found dolls" from the surrounding neighborhoods 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.

 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Joyce Carol Oates is the author of such national bestsellers as The Falls, Blonde, and We Were the Mulvaneys. Her other titles for the Mysterious Press include Jack of Spades, High Crime Area, and The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares, which won the 2011 Bram Stoker Award for Short Horror Fiction. She is the recipient of the National Book Award for them and the 2010 President's Medal for the Humanities.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 7, 2016
    Oates (Jack of Spades) convincingly demonstrates her mastery of the macabre with this superlative story collection. Though the titular opening tale sets the creepy tone, narrator Robbie, who has a thing for “found dolls” as an eighth grader, is odd enough that its denouement is less surprising than it could have been. More effective is the Hitchcockian “Equatorial,” in which Mrs. Wheeling, her husband’s third wife, begins to suspect during an excursion to the Galapagos that her scientist spouse may be trying to clear the decks for the fourth Mrs. Wheeling; Oates deftly manipulates the reader through this novella, in part by doling out key bits of backstory that dramatically shift the narrative kaleidoscope. And she truly hits her stride in the stories rooted in apparent normalcy, as in the George Zimmerman riff “Soldier,” and “Big Momma,” in which angry, unloved 13-year-old Violet ends up taking a horrific turn from the Jersey suburbs into the Twilight Zone. This devil’s half-dozen of dread and suspense is a must read. Agent: Warren Frazier, John Hawkins & Associates.

  • Kirkus

    March 1, 2016
    The prolific Oates (The Man Without a Shadow, 2016, etc.) delivers a sextet of creepy stories to disturb your nights and cast shadows across your days. In the title story, a man waxes eloquent about the doll collection he began keeping as a child when his cousin died of leukemia. Very quickly, it becomes apparent that his "dolls" have a much more sinister significance. In another story, a woman remembers a traumatic time in her past when she was asked to take care of her favorite teacher's house and was instead assaulted and left for dead. A lonely young girl meets a new friend with a big, terrifying secret. A troubled man defends the actions that have landed him in jail as the front page of every newspaper brands him a racist. On holiday in the Galapagos, a wife begins to suspect her dashing older husband is trying to kill her--or is it merely a case of survival of the fittest? In the most effective of these stories, a paranoid narrator, seemingly modeled after so many of Poe's unstable characters, calmly plans and executes a perfect murder--only to have the tables turned. Oates' signature move, at least in these stories, is to end in medias res, or in the middle of things--unlike other authors, who tend to start there. When this works, it causes a lingering sense of dread and discomfort, but sometimes it is merely frustrating, leaving one with a "lady or tiger" sensation. The collection provides some chills and some domestic psychological warfare much in the classic vein of Ruth Rendell, but it does feel a bit uneven and underdeveloped. What it lacks: deep, well-plumbed explorations of truly troubled and disturbing psyches. For readers who like the frisson of psychological horror without too much commitment.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    September 1, 2016

    The wonderfully old-fashioned subtitle of this collection brings to mind Edgar Allan Poe and other masters of supernatural horror, and indeed the title story was originally published in a collection by fantasy and horror editor Ellen Datlow. However, these six entries are terrifying in their utter mundanity. "The Doll-Master" contains a twist that this review won't reveal, while other pieces include a deep dive into the psychology of a George Zimmerma-like character (recalling the similarly timely themes of Oates's recent novel The Sacrifice); a gut-wrenching account by a young girl tasked to house-sit for her favorite teacher, only to be terrorized by her cousin; and a deadly accurate portrayal of a very lonely girl who simply befriends the wrong family. The terrors all end in death, nearly all of which take place just after the end of the story, allowing Oates to focus on the psychology of killers, victims, and bystanders in the moments when a different outcome is still possible, if not probable. Few readers will find these offerings scary in the traditional sense, but they invoke a kind of primal dread that can be even more terrifying. VERDICT Another fantastic anthology from Oates-terrifying and realistic at the same time and featuring some of her most teen-centric characters in years. Those who need encouragement to read this collection can be directed to the three selections with youthful protagonists, but all six should grip the imagination of any fan of crime and murder.-Mark Flowers, Rio Vista Library, CA

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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