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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By B.A. Wilson on 12-30-17
Unique and Unexpected
This is unusual and inventive, and I like that. Everything Holmberg writes is unique. This is not my favorite of all of her books, but I'm glad I read it, since it was a nice taste of something truly different.
The magic is dark and eccentric in this one, but with a slight touch of fancy or whimsy. It has a bit of a Giver (by Lois Lowry) vibe about it, which I assume is intentional, but maybe not.
I like that every story she writes is creative and different from the other fantasy novels floating about. I also like how so many of them stand alone and yet feel complete in their world building. Somehow, Holmberg flies under the radar, but I think she deserves more credit for her interesting body of work.
50 of 52 people found this review helpful
By Danni on 11-30-17
Living the Fantasy
The author of the story created such a whimsically twisted fantasy; I loved All parts of it.
We start off in a small remote village in Eastern Europe. Our protagonist (Matrona) lives a sheltered life as a milk maiden. She is quiet, meek, obedient, and will do anything to make her parents happy. Her curiosity gets her into trouble when she discovers mysterious nesting dolls in the house of the local tradesmen. Because of her discovery, she is forced into a reluctant partnership with the tradesman; this includes opening The dolls.
The dolls are so sinister yet intersting. As Matrona opens the dolls, things around her begin to change. Her character development is remarkable. She becomes smarter and bolder because of what happens when she opens the dolls. While the other characters were interesting, Matrona captured my heart. Her journey felt so real, even though it's a fantasy. As the story went on, I constantly felt scared but I could not stop listening.
The danger and mystique in The Fifth Doll is positively addictive. It reminded me a lot of The Giver. There's important themes like love, friendship, history, magic, family loyalty, tragic heroes, and then some. I could go on and on about how amazing this book is. But honestly, stop wasting time and listen already.
62 of 65 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Kindle Customer on 12-11-17
The fifth doll
Unexpected twist, story flows well with believable characters. Made me want to know more about the fifth doll world
By Hannah Groom on 10-02-17
Not What I Was Expecting
This is very different to Charlie N. Holmbergs Paper Magician series, which I loved. Nothing against this book, but its really not my type of thing. If you like darker magical fiction in a realistic yet slightly historic setting, then this book is for you.