A love story about becoming real by an award-winning genre author emerging on the literary scene
EWA CHAPLIN WASN'T AFRAID TO MAKE DOLLS THAT WEREN'T COMFORTING. SHE SEEMED TO KNOW THAT DOLLS ARE PEOPLE, JUST LIKE US.
THE BEWITCHING NEW NOVEL FROM THE AWARD-WINNING GUARDIAN FRESH VOICES AUTHOR
'A fantastic book' Andrew O'Hagan
'Wholly original - worthy of a modern Grimm' Andrew Caldecott, author of Rotherweird
'A masterful and multi-layered haunted toyshop of a novel' Tony White, author of The Fountain in the Forest
Stitch by perfect stitch, Andrew Garvie makes exquisite dolls in the finest antique style. Like him, they are diminutive, but graceful, unique and with surprising depths. Perhaps that's why he answers the enigmatic personal ad in his collector's magazine.
Letter by letter, Bramber Winters reveals more of her strange, sheltered life in an institution on Bodmin Moor, and the terrible events that put her there as a child. Andrew knows what it is to be trapped; and as they knit closer together, he weaves a curious plan to rescue her.
On his journey through the old towns of England he reads the fairytales of Ewa Chaplin - potent, eldritch stories which, like her lifelike dolls, pluck at the edges of reality and thread their way into his mind. When Andrew and Bramber meet at last, they will have a choice - to remain alone with their painful pasts or break free and, unlike their dolls, come to life.
A love story of two very real, unusual people, The Dollmaker is also a novel rich with wonders: Andrew's quest and Bramber's letters unspool around the dark fables that give our familiar world an uncanny edge. It is this touch of magic that, like the blink of a doll's eyes, tricks our own . . .
Her literary sensibility fuses the fantastic and the mundane to great effect - Guardian
In clean, beautiful, agile prose, Nina Allan is able to conjure a recognisable England and a place of deep enchantment. The world of The Dollmaker is not only one we know, it seems to know us, and readers will lose and find themselves inside Allan's wonderful creation. A fantastic book, revealing a zone of wonder and a world of truth. - Andrew O'Hagan, author of The Illuminations
Amazing experiments are still possible with the form of the novel! I was deeply impressed by the complexity of this elegant, beautiful and subtly scary book. - Daniel Kehlmann, author of Measuring the World
As uncanny and disquieting as a Hans Bellmer photograph, yet rooted - like all of Nina Allan's superb novels - in a minutely observed everyday reality that feels almost too familiar. This is a masterful and multi-layered haunted toyshop of a novel, but who exactly is playing with who? - Tony White, author of The Fountain in the Forest
Mesmerising, richly layered and wholly original - worthy of a modern Grimm - Andrew Caldecott, author of Rotherweird
Beautifully written and deeply strange . . . Allan writes about neglect and transgression very well . . . Wonderfully taut - Sunday Times
This is a very singular book indeed, one punctuated by dark, strikingly densely imagined fairytales, which share disturbing parallels with Andrew's own life. Blurred boundaries are, in part, what this unsettling, intricately constructed and teasingly elliptical tale of misfits, outcasts and outsiders is about . . . The award-winning sci-fi writer's talents are evident - Daily Mail
Sometimes, all you can really do is applaud . . . So achingly clever and well constructed it's a bit like a magic trick. A dazzling little puzzle box of a novel, one that interleaves multiple voices, moods and genres. Intricate, measured and subtly creepy, this is the sort of book that invites you to find your own path, and decide for yourself just what the story is. - SFX
Nina Allan is a novelist and short story writer. Her previous fiction has won several prizes, including the British Science Fiction Award for Best Novel, the Novella Award and the Grand Prix de L'Imaginaire for Best Translated Work. She lives and works in Rothesay, on the Isle of Bute. The Dollmaker is her third novel.