The next two books I will be reviewing are outside my normal genre: one a YA book, but first of all one of the most gripping psychological thrillers I’ve ever read.

Few books start with the dramatic intensity of ‘Baby Doll’. No gentle meandering scene-setting, no light character introduction. It all starts with a bolt on a door. A bolt that has not been shut.

As Lily gradually becomes aware of this lapse, she can finally hope for freedom. A chance to escape the room where she has been held hostage since she was sixteen. Eight long years of mental and physical abuse. One person, Lily, was captured, held. Two people escape. Lily and her five-year-old daughter, Sky. Sky who is about to encounter the outside world for the first time. Sky who is about the meet her relatives for the first time ever.

Once free, every new day brings fresh traumas to Lily and her family as they desperately seek to reconnect following the horrific years of heart-ache. As the man who abducted her, an ‘upstanding member of the community’, is brought to justice, Lily discovers the destruction wrought on her closest family after she went missing. Her twin sister, Abby, has changed beyond recognition and is now pregnant and in a relationship with Lily’s childhood boyfriend. Lily’s mother too sought relief outside the norm of the family.

Whilst relentlessly moving forward, the novel seamlessly weaves in much of the back story. It builds to a crescendo of shocking revelations until the brilliant, in the end the only possible, finale. 

This book is compelling; a definite page-turner and one I read in two days. Lily and her family became etched in my heart – I just had to know what happened next. Could the family survive? Could they re-unite? Would they ever find love and peace again? 

‘Baby Doll’ is an excellent taut thriller that raises many important issues. Although I felt at first that it was driven by the plot I quickly changed my mind as I warmed to the characters (or in the case of the abductor, detested). 

One major stumbling block for me was the poor edit of this Netgalley edition of the book. The first two words were joined together, then throughout the book there followed extra lines mid sentence, extra spaces before commas…I am sure Random House, its team and the author will correct these issues before publication but it was a distraction for me – luckily the book was so compelling!

I could say a lot more about ‘Baby Doll’ but I’m worried about spoiling the novel for you. I hope you get a chance to read this yourself. As you might have guessed I highly recommend this book.

netgalleyI received this ACR from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a honest and impartial review.


Publisher:                      Random House UK

Group Release Date:  30th June  2016

Price:                              £ 12.99   (Hardback – Amazon)  

                                         £ 7.99      (Kindle – Amazon)

Rating:                           4 out of 5 stars.


A quick aside.

Have you ever wondered about the name Netgalley?

I thought at first it was meant to be a play on word of ‘gallery’. Reading through a book the other day I think I’ve finally found the reason behind the name.

Net – obviously the internet.

Galley – this was originally the flat metal tray with three raised edges which used to hold the metal type. The galley proofs were proofs taken on a long slip of paper from the type while it was still in the galley, though the term is now used for any proofs not yet divided into pages.  (source: The Cambridge Handbook. Copy-editing by Judith Butcher)



37 thoughts on “BABY DOLL: A BOOK REVIEW

  1. Annika,i like YA literature since I have an 11 year old grandson and a 12 year old granddaughter. I accidentally mis-reas the title and thought you were reviewing Luanne Castles book of poems, with nature and dolls included. Oops. . .it is called, “Doll God.” I am going to read it today and write a review in a few days.
    I liked your intriguing review and it quickly grabbed my attention. 🙂

    1. Robin, so glad you liked the review. I’m reviewing the the YA book next week and must admit my son got me into this genre. However, I have to say I am not one for pigeon-holing – unless he had recommended someYA books I would never have read them and missed out on a heap of interesting reads. Look forward to your review. Now I’m intrigued; poems on nature and doll!?

  2. Anonymous

    You have a real talent for writing a good review which is also an appreciation. I can sometimes manage the former but don’t have a natural aptitude for the latter. Great review.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words – I’ve never considered the reviews an appreciation as such but am flattered you find them so. Maybe they are in a way…😃

  3. Anonymous

    Well this has got me hooked. I don’t normally read this book genre but having read your review I intend to read this one.

    Love all your book reviews by the way – keep reading and reviewing!


    1. Thank you so much, Mike and I’m pleasantly surprised you’re willing to give this one a go! Not at all your usual genre – ie. Terry Pratchett! – but I’m sure you’ll find this an engrossing read.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book review. 😃 I always try to give a balanced feeling for the book whilst at the same time expressing my opinion. Let me know what you think of the book if you get a chance to read it.

  4. The book sounds like a very worthwhile read. It’s a shame about the poor editing, but I guess that’s at least an easy thing to fix. I’d certainly rather read a good book with the occasional misspelled word than a perfectly edited one that was boring, cliched or stupid. 🙂

    1. It’s definitely worth reading and I have to agree with your last sentence – I haven’t got time for those type of books! A comment from a fellow blogger who reviews a lot did mention that perhaps (ie. most likely) it hadn’t been through the final edit and that explained the errors. Makes sense but it would have been good to be advised of this. That I learnt to ‘overlook’ the problems shows the intense and addictive quality of the book.

    1. Julie, I was the same and this isn’t really my kind of book but the premise had me hooked and I’m glad I read it. Thrillers might be on my reading horizon a bit more now though. Let me know what you think of it if you get a chance. And oh yes, super intense which kept crescendoing (can that be a verb?)…it just kept building until a very dramatic ending.

    1. Yep, very intense with occasional (with the stress on this word) calmer moments – mostly occurring when the backstory is being filled in. Even then though tension abounds! I haven’t read too many psychological thrillers lately but this one has got my interest piqued and I’m looking out for new ones now.

  5. Sounds like a terrific book. I can’t imagine the courage it took to survive, then escape, and then tackle a changed world.

    I see lots of mistakes in my Amazon Vine books. They warn me these are because they haven’t gone through the final edit. I don’t know if that’s also true of NetGalley. I just joined yesterday.

    1. Jacqui, the same thought occurred to me – how do you manage to survive such an ordeal and live on? Whilst reading the book I found I had to distance myself from the actual cases which are very similar to events in this book in order to be able to read it.

      I’ve never reviewed for Amazon Vine but interesting that they warn you that the books haven’t gone through the final edit. I am sure this is what happened to this book but I had no notification of this fact and haven’t come across the problem with other NetGalley books. Yeah! So you’ll also be reviewing for them…there is almost a too big and interesting selection out there!

  6. Thank you Annika, those were excellent reviews and begs the question, which one to read first? I think I would go with Babydoll as I like a fast paced novel, one that I know I can read in a few days. The other, when winter returns, there will be time.

    1. JC, a good one to start with and I hope you like it. Do let me know what you think. I know, there are so many great books out there at the moment I almost feel confused. I’m not sure the next book I’ll be reviewing is quite your type though. Have a great weekend!

  7. Annika, what a great review. I also don’t usually read psychological thrillers, but this one sounds intriguing and very close to some of the cases that have been in the news. There are definitely issues around how the family and environment would change over the course of the abduction time frame. It is truly sad that these things do happen in real life, but it does sound like a very good book.

    1. Lana, you got this just right – it is the changes whilst she has been held hostages and her reaction to them and her family’s reaction to her return that are at the core of the novel. It is so close to some recent cases that I just assumed it is based on those. I must admit to wondering what happens in these real cases once all the media mayhem calms down and the ‘normal’ world resumes for the abductees and their families – this story is one fictional hypothesis.

  8. Waaaayy too scary/disturbing for me. Great review, but psychological thrillers keep me up night. After night, after night. Good for the author for keeping you turning those pages, though!

    1. Pam, I tend to avoid books like this for the same reason but for once the premise had me hooked and I’m glad I read it. But yes, not the easiest of topics and very disturbing at times as you’d expect – but I was caught up with the characters and the story. Luckily there is a brilliant resolution. I hope my next book to be reviewed will suit you more – a welcome relief and easy happy read after this one!

      1. I love your book reviews. They do what a book review is supposed to – help us decide if each one is the ‘right’ book for us to spend our days under its spell. 🙂

    1. Jill, it is one of those books you’ll still be reading at midnight in spite of your best intentions to have stopped two hours earlier! So glad you liked the review and the little info addition. It’s something that’s been bugging me for a while so happy to find an answer.

  9. I usually can’t read books like this, Annika. I just get too upset and stressed out! But this sounds like a good one for when I work up the courage. Ha ha. A great review and you gave away just the right amount to hook the reader. Well done.

    1. Diana, I’m just the same – this really isn’t my usual kind of book but it is an excellent new approach to a topic we read so much about. Instead of dealing so much with the time in captivity it concentrates on the what happens afterwards to Lily and Sky once free but especially focuses on the relationships between the main women in the book. This is what I loved about the book – it really got under the skin of each and every character, their motivation, their desperation and self-destruction. I think you’ll be okay with it…I’m keeping my fingers crossed now! Thank you so much for your kind comment.

  10. Psychological thrillers are my favourite genre, so for me, and thanks to your wonderful review, Baby Doll looks to be a fabulous read. Yet another one for the TBR!! I didn’t know the definition of Netgalley…very interesting! Thank you Annika! 🙂 xx

    1. Oh, Sherri, in that case this will be perfect for you! 😀 I don’t read many thrillers (last big lot were the Stieg Larsson ones) but this is now one of my favourites. I could almost wish for a sequel as I got to know the characters so well, although the end was just right and complete. There just seems to be so many great books out there at the moment – my tbr wish list on amazon is pages long!

  11. delphini510

    Thank you for this excellent review. Already in the first paragraph I feel the urge to hurry them along before anyone shuts the bolt.
    To follow the events after will be upsetting but worth while as one wonders how the victims find life again. We do hear about these sad events but rarely know what happened to all concerned after. So much to come to terms with.

    Yes, I will put this book on my wish list and read it on summer holiday.

    How interesting to learn where galley in net gallery comes from

    1. Thank you, Mirja and you are right that a lot of this book concentrates on what happens after to Lily and Sky as well as how her family coped during her missing years and also to their return. Very emotionally charged, fast paced but well worth the traumatic scenes. As with all psychological thrillers/films it’s often what’s left unsaid that is more disturbing. Hope you enjoy during this book your summer holidays – but perhaps best not to read it last thing at night!

      1. delphini510

        I will heed your advice and read it in the garden…maybe on a sun lounger.
        Looking up at the beauty around as to remind me it is still there.

    1. Thank you, Bernadette! I’ve never reviewed a thriller before so hadn’t realised how tricky it would be not to reveal too much but still keep the review interesting! Not sure I empathise with the antagonist but Hollie Overton does a great job of getting inside his evil calculating head.

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