The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg
Genres: Fantasy
Published: 25th July, 2017
Series: N/A
Rating: 4

The bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series transports readers to a darkly whimsical world where strange magic threatens a quiet village that only a courageous woman can save.
Matrona lives in an isolated village, where her life is centered on pleasing her parents. She’s diligent in her chores and has agreed to marry a man of their choosing. But a visit to Slava, the local tradesman, threatens to upend her entire life.?
Entering his empty house, Matrona discovers a strange collection of painted nesting dolls—one for every villager. Fascinated, she can’t resist the urge to open the doll with her father’s face. But when her father begins acting strangely, she realizes Slava’s dolls are much more than they seem.
When he learns what she’s done, Slava seizes the opportunity to give Matrona stewardship over the dolls—whether she wants it or not. Forced to open one of her own dolls every three days, she falls deeper into the grim power of Slava’s creations. But nothing can prepare her for the profound secret hiding inside the fifth doll.

There is just something about Russian folk tales, that gives you the creeps. In a good way! This book is not one of those folk tales, per se, but does have all the magical elements that make one.

The Fifth Doll is a pretty neat, spooky tale set in a cutesy little village that is just a little bit too cheerful for its own good. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, you guessed right. Everything.

I wouldn’t call this book suspenseful, but there’s just something that keeps you turning the pages to try and get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the villagers. I must admit, I had all sorts of ideas what’s wrong with them, but none of them turned out to be the case.


View spoiler

A little bit after halfway I even thought they are all dead or something… Damn…


I could not agree with those reviews that said the characters are flat an uninteresting. Maybe a little bit dopey, but hey, it all made perfect sense at the end!

Matrona, the main character is a bit immature for a 26 year old most of the time, but every now and then her potential shines through and she proves that she’s wise beyond her years. Or at least wiser than I was at that age.

I’ve always wanted to be loved. I don’t know if Esfir’s passing closed my parents’ hearts, or if it’s just their way, but affection has always been lacking in my home. I fear it’s lacking in yours as well. I can’t be part of that.

Damn, girl, you tell him! Love it.

I loved Jaska, her sidekick. Shit doesn’t make sense? Let’s consider all our options, even the wildest ones! He’s openminded, loyal and quick witted. If I had a side kick, I would sure want them to be someone like him.

I will most definitely read some more from this author.

The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight #1) by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight #1) by Katherine Arden
Genres: Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Historical Fiction
Published: 10th January, 2017
Series: Winternight Trilogy
Rating: 3

‘Frost-demons have no interest in mortal girls wed to mortal men. In the stories, they only come for the wild maiden.’

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods…

Atmospheric and enchanting, with an engrossing adventure at its core, The Bear and the Nightingale is perfect for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman.

This book was not what I expected… If I say the story was moving slowly, I wouldn’t be quite right, as it covered the first fourteen years of Vasya’s life, and still, it felt like not much was happening in the first half.

I loved the Russian folklore elements, and how these fairytale creatures were a natural part of everyone’s lives, even though only Vasya and her stepmother (Anna) were able to actually see them. While Vasya considers them friends, Anna is terrified of them and with the help of the overzealous priest, declares them the root of all evil. The author captures the villager’s despair brilliantly, how they turn against their old beliefs and superstitions when the truly horrible things start happening, going as far as blaming Vasya, calling her a witch, even though before the priest’s arrival none of them were bothered by the domovoi, the vazila, the rusalka and the other fairy folk.

Most of the story was set during winter, and I could almost feel the freezing cold through the pages. This is certainly one of those books that are best enjoyed under the blankie with some hot chocolate or coffee at hand.

What I didn’t like is that I had quite a hard time keeping up with the characters. I mean… Russian names are not that hard. But bloody hell… Like when Aleksei was called Sasha or Alexander randomly, and I kept forgetting that Kolya was Nikolai, Dunya was Avdotya (or something like that) and so on. Maybe we’d need a glossary for the names as well, like that handy list at the end of the book explaining all the words, phrases that were used in the story. (Just sayin’…)

I kind of want to read the next book though, but I definitely need a break.

Get The Girl in The Tower: (Winternight Trilogy) on Amazon UK (hardcover).