The Fifth Doll
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.

The Fifth Doll Details

TitleThe Fifth Doll
Author
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 25th, 2017
Publisher47North
ISBN1477806105
ISBN-139781477806104
Number of pages322 pages
Rating
GenreFantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Horror, Magic, Science Fiction Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Young Adult

The Fifth Doll Review

  • Steven
    July 17, 2017
    Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.Charlie Holmberg is a relatively new author. I've read her Paper Magician trilogy, and it was highly original and was quite entertaining. The magic systems that she comes up with are Sanderson-esque. The Fifth Doll is no exception. It's got a really creative and almost scary twist on magic and Russian nesting dolls. You can read the blurb for what it's about, but basically, the main character stum Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.Charlie Holmberg is a relatively new author. I've read her Paper Magician trilogy, and it was highly original and was quite entertaining. The magic systems that she comes up with are Sanderson-esque. The Fifth Doll is no exception. It's got a really creative and almost scary twist on magic and Russian nesting dolls. You can read the blurb for what it's about, but basically, the main character stumbles upon a secret that a fellow townsperson is keeping, and is forced to start messing with the magic of some Russian nesting dolls. Over time, more and more is revealed, and Holmberg has done a great job of peeling back the layers of humanity, one doll at a time, to reveal that fifth doll inside.Overall, a unique and hard to put down take on Russian folklore, magic, and seeing past the outside shells of the people around us. I'd definitely recommend this to people who like interesting magic and folklore and slow-reveal stories.
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  • abby
    July 21, 2017
    Matrona lives in an isolated village. It's a close knit community were everyone knows everyone, and the church, and obedience to its teachings, is central to life. It's always summer, and the crops are always good. Life is quiet and uncomplicated-- the only strange things to have ever happened is when the potter's wife went mad and when Matrona's baby sister disappeared at three days old. The local tradesman, Slava, is the sole villager who has ever left; few others have even tried. Matrona trie Matrona lives in an isolated village. It's a close knit community were everyone knows everyone, and the church, and obedience to its teachings, is central to life. It's always summer, and the crops are always good. Life is quiet and uncomplicated-- the only strange things to have ever happened is when the potter's wife went mad and when Matrona's baby sister disappeared at three days old. The local tradesman, Slava, is the sole villager who has ever left; few others have even tried. Matrona tries her best to be a dutiful daughter, and, at age 26, is settling to loveless marriage arrangement to make them happy. But her real affection lies with Jaska, the much younger son of the mad potter's wife. It's her secret, until everyone in the village finds out. How? Well, it starts with a collection of wooden dolls she accidentally stumbles upon inside Slava's house. There's one resembling each person in the village. When Slava discovers her snooping he insists Matrona become the next care taker of the strange dolls, staring by opening hers. When she does, strange things start to happen.Best I can describe this book is that it's fine, nothing special. Matrona reads much younger than 26, and this book has a very YA vibe to it. It's not particularly inventive or memorable, but pleasant enough to read. The plot gets a little messy towards the end and the ultimate conclusion is pretty predictable.Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for granting me access to this ARC.
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  • Caitlin Schanaker
    June 6, 2017
    I was SO elated to win this ARC (my first ever!) of Charlie N. Holmberg's new book, and even more so once I started to read it. Creepy in the absolute best ways, this story is immediately entrancing and mysterious. I just LOVE this Russian dimension she's created with so many twists and turns and characters that were easy to root for and gasp over. I find her writing so incredibly easy to disappear into. She utilizes wonderful imagery and the pace is perfect, sweeping you right up along with it. I was SO elated to win this ARC (my first ever!) of Charlie N. Holmberg's new book, and even more so once I started to read it. Creepy in the absolute best ways, this story is immediately entrancing and mysterious. I just LOVE this Russian dimension she's created with so many twists and turns and characters that were easy to root for and gasp over. I find her writing so incredibly easy to disappear into. She utilizes wonderful imagery and the pace is perfect, sweeping you right up along with it. Example:"Matrona imagined her flush was made of thousands of biting ants, and the soft breeze blew them off her skin as she walked, carrying them back into the wood." Amazing. As always her book features a creative brand of magic that is baffling but fascinating and accessible. There are bits of creeping horror mixed with fantasy (but I wouldn't say it's actually flat out scary, for those wondering). I just really enjoyed this book and couldn't stop thinking about it as I read through it, and still can't now that I'm done. As I experienced with another book of hers, Followed by Frost, as soon as I closed the last page I was all but devastated there wasn't more story to read.I cannot wait to share this read with everyone I know once it releases July 25!!
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  • Mindy
    June 3, 2017
    The Fifth Doll is another excellent book by Charlie N. Holmberg. This was an intriguing world that she created and I loved how the story enfolds. Matrona is such a great character. Her curiosity leads to trouble at first, but I loved her determination to not accept a certain fate. There were so many things that had me guessing and I had a hard time putting the book down. Charlie does a great job of revealing the awesome twists and turns that kept the story moving perfectly. There were very cool The Fifth Doll is another excellent book by Charlie N. Holmberg. This was an intriguing world that she created and I loved how the story enfolds. Matrona is such a great character. Her curiosity leads to trouble at first, but I loved her determination to not accept a certain fate. There were so many things that had me guessing and I had a hard time putting the book down. Charlie does a great job of revealing the awesome twists and turns that kept the story moving perfectly. There were very cool surprises I was not expecting. Very well done!I received an ARC from the author. All views and opinions expressed are my own.
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  • R.Q. Woodward
    May 21, 2017
    Loved this book. Easily the best book I've read all year (which is saying a lot since it's my 26th in 2017). The writing style is beautiful and flawless. The world comes alive with graceful imagery. The characters are complex and dynamic. The structure/pacing of the novel is steady and building: either the mystery of the world, the magic of the dolls, the romantic 'complications' of the protagonist (sorry, no spoilers!), or the timeline itself keep the book fascinating and engrossing throughout. Loved this book. Easily the best book I've read all year (which is saying a lot since it's my 26th in 2017). The writing style is beautiful and flawless. The world comes alive with graceful imagery. The characters are complex and dynamic. The structure/pacing of the novel is steady and building: either the mystery of the world, the magic of the dolls, the romantic 'complications' of the protagonist (sorry, no spoilers!), or the timeline itself keep the book fascinating and engrossing throughout. I couldn't put it down, but honestly, I didn't really try to. I let myself get swept away by the narrative, and I have a feeling I'm going to be thinking about this book for a long time yet to come.I was given an advance copy of this book, and I promise, that is NOT why I'm rating it so highly. 100% truth: It's probably my new favorite book by Charlie N. Holmberg (and I really, really love The Paper Magician). I wasn't a huge fan of Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet, so don't think I'm just giving out free 5 Star ratings either. This is my second 5-star read in 2017, out of 26 books, and I wholeheartedly mean it.I was BLOWN AWAY by how wonderfully this book is written and highlighted line after line of Holmberg's beautiful prose. Her descriptions are gorgeous: she describes emotions, physical reactions (hearts racing/skin tingling/etc), and scenery in new and unique ways throughout the book. I just realized my Kindle erased ALL of my notes and highlights (and am now crying), so here are only a few hasty examples of what I mean:"Matrona imagined her flush was made of thousands of biting ants, and the soft breeze blew them off her skin as she walked, carrying them back into the wood.""He was still as an oak trunk, silent as a candle.""Matrona's heart retreated until it hit her spine, and she quivered with its every beat.""The sky began to tint pink as the sun crawled toward its wooded bed.""Her entire body became a heartbeat.""Jaska straightened, though his whole person seemed to wilt."
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  • Heather
    May 21, 2017
    The Fifth Doll is another creative and excellent book by Charlie Holmberg. We move through the story in Matrona's point of view as she discovers some strange things going on in her small village. I enjoyed that the reader didn't know any answers until Matrona figured them out. I also loved the unique world building that was centered on a Russian subculture. The Fifth Doll is hard to put down once you start. A fun read!
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  • katwiththehat
    July 5, 2017
    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review "The Fifth Doll" by Charlie Holmberg. What a delightful novel. The author has a beautiful sense of style and world building. You find yourself thoroughly immersed in this quaint little Russian village where everything is lovely and delightful for the most part, even though Matrona, our protagonist, and the reader,are left with the lingering sense something is not quite right. I truly enjoyed this book throughout, especia Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review "The Fifth Doll" by Charlie Holmberg. What a delightful novel. The author has a beautiful sense of style and world building. You find yourself thoroughly immersed in this quaint little Russian village where everything is lovely and delightful for the most part, even though Matrona, our protagonist, and the reader,are left with the lingering sense something is not quite right. I truly enjoyed this book throughout, especially towards the end as the plot began to pick up speed. The trope may be something we've seen before, but the author gives it her own flair, and it's no less enjoyable. My one pondering was with Matrona's age... I found her struggles and thoughts to be very much in line with a YA age heroine, so it was a little surprising each time she reminded us she was 26. I wonder if this would work even more effectively if Matrona's age matched her emotional age, if that makes sense. All in all, a very enjoyable read. 4/5 stars. Please excuse typos. Entered on screen reader.
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  • Heather
    July 9, 2017
    Charlie N. Holmberg has a way of crafting magical worlds that I've never thought of before. While there may be some familiar elements, she bends them to her will and creates people and places and systems that weave together into a story that has me reading until the last page.The Fifth Doll is the story of a woman, Matrona, who is living a relatively content life. She is not as respected as she'd like, being an unmarried woman at 26, but that will change with her marriage to the butcher. After a Charlie N. Holmberg has a way of crafting magical worlds that I've never thought of before. While there may be some familiar elements, she bends them to her will and creates people and places and systems that weave together into a story that has me reading until the last page.The Fifth Doll is the story of a woman, Matrona, who is living a relatively content life. She is not as respected as she'd like, being an unmarried woman at 26, but that will change with her marriage to the butcher. After a fateful decision, however, she finds herself stumbling upon a secret that encompasses her entire village and spans the past twenty years. Now, she has to work alongside Slava, the mastermind behind this magical secret, and in doing so decide whether she will comply with his wish, to become his protege, or to work out the magic and free her people.While reading Matrona's journey from an unsuspecting villager to the person that pulls back the curtain, I never thought for sure that I knew where things were going. There were hints as to what Slava had done, like when the villagers didn't know what a lock was or what the word snow meant. There were things that were unexplained before the big revelation that I never expected to be answered, only to get to the end and realize that it was interwoven in Slava's machinations from the beginning, though not by his intentional design. Simply put, there was just so much going on in The Fifth Doll that you're swept away, just like Matrona, and while you might pick up on some of the minute details that hint at the future she's hurtling toward, you might also be like her and miss them while trying to work out the bigger picture.There is an interesting concept that Matrona and Slava debate toward the end of the novel that I found interesting.(view spoiler)[Slava turned the villagers into the enchanted matryoskas in order to save them from Tsar Nikolai II. He made a decision to save them from something that he saw as a threat, all without consulting a single one of them. Matrona thought that this was wrong and even asked him why he would hide their memories of Russia if this life within the dolls was so good. She condemned him for this decision and sets about trying to set the village free from Slava's enchantment.From that point on, she makes the decision to break them all out, no matter the cost. At the cost of the peaceful life they had, one with no war, no hunger, perpetual summer, she was determined to get them all out. With only scant memories of her time in Russia from when she was six and returned to her when one of her dolls was opened, she makes the choice for all of them. It never occurs to her that this action is somewhat hypocritical, that she is doing exactly what she condemned Slava for. Matrona's betrothed, Feodor, even makes the very same observation to her when they're back in the real world. Some of the villagers may not want this. The world they've come back to is cold and the peasants they've stumbled upon are dressed poorly, housed in buildings a lot smaller than the villagers had had within the Doll World. While, yes, Matrona's actions do mean they're free from Slava, what harm has she actually brought to them?We never learn how many of them are pleased with this turn of events or how many would have preferred to remain within their comfortable world. It reminded me of the ending of the Matrix series, where the humans and the Machines come to the decision that humans can disconnect if they feel they're ready, if the truth would not be too harmful. Matrona disregarded what her fellow citizens might have thought and made a decision, one that she thought was best for all, just like Slava. In the end, she was more like him than she cared to admit.(hide spoiler)]The revelations and the consequences of not just Matrona's actions but those of Slava and other characters in this story made for a gripping story that I had to read nearly straight through. Holmberg's writing made a for a pleasant reading experience and her research into Russian culture included clothing and building details that I did not recognize from books I've read in the past. Her creation of this atmosphere got me right into the story and did not let me go until the end, where I am left both satisfied and questioning the characters. No one is perfect in this book, whatever they think about themselves, and maybe that was the point. Making the best decisions you can while not giving into self-doubt and criticism and outside forces.I'm looking forward to her next book, because there is always the possibility that the story started here as not ended.I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Louise
    June 30, 2017
    I liked this book,it had an interesting idea overall,and as was being read,those dolls were fairly creepy.Having seen the movie the Village years back,this felt a bit like that. A community isolated,people each with their own role...It all went a bit different with sorcery,Russian revolutionaries and people being wooden dolls.Enjoyable enough to have me picking up at every opportunity,but a little too predictable with its characters to go beyond "I liked it".
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  • S. E. Drummond
    June 20, 2017
    It’s clear from the get-go that something is not quite right in Matrona's village, though she herself isn't aware until a fateful action sets her on the path to unraveling the mystery. Charlie N. Holmberg's latest book, The Fifth Doll, fluctuates between the romance of an old Russian village, the beguiling spell of a fantasy tale, and the compelling lives of the characters brought to life throughout its pages. The main character, Matrona, is a dreamer who longs for love, but with realist parents It’s clear from the get-go that something is not quite right in Matrona's village, though she herself isn't aware until a fateful action sets her on the path to unraveling the mystery. Charlie N. Holmberg's latest book, The Fifth Doll, fluctuates between the romance of an old Russian village, the beguiling spell of a fantasy tale, and the compelling lives of the characters brought to life throughout its pages. The main character, Matrona, is a dreamer who longs for love, but with realist parents and an impending arranged marriage, it seems she's destined for a life devoid of it. When she happens upon the collection of painted nesting dolls in the mysterious Slava's house, she can't resist the urge to touch one--one with a remarkable likeness of her father painted on it! But when her father starts acting strangely, she realizes there must be more going on in tradesman Slava's house. But when Matrona goes to confront Slava, he turns the tables on her and decides Matrona is going to be the next keeper of his secrets--whether she wants to or not! Matrona must follow Slava's demands...or else. Between his dictates and her parents' and betrothed's expectations, Matrona soon finds herself in a whirlwind of conflicting emotions. But with each action she takes, and resulting consequence she endures, Matrona grows in strength and resolve: she will learn the mystery of the dolls. And perhaps she might find the love she longs for after all...Reading this book was itself very like opening a set of Russian matryoshka dolls. Each layer of the story had a new problem, a new hope, a new secret to learn, and every time I thought I knew where things were headed, another layer broke open and took the plot in a new direction. The Fifth Doll is incredibly unique, quite refreshing to read, and genuinely hard to put down! It only took two days to fly through it, and I could have easily read it all in one sitting if I hadn't had the mundane distractions of everyday life plaguing me.What made this story go above the average tale for me were the vivid characters and the beautiful language employed skillfully by Charlie N. Holmberg. Matrona is a very believable and likeable character. I was able to easily sympathize with her without feeling like the author was manipulating me to do so. She does have real faults but they are understandable and true to her character. Slava walks the appropriate tightrope for his good-guy-or-bad-guy-? persona; menacing but weary, demanding but regretful. And the character of Matrona's mother also stood out to me as a very realistic portrayal. Her harsh demeanor and sharp words were very believable traits, due to her situation in life and its toll on her. As for the language, here are a few lines that I absolutely *loved*! “It sent moth wings up her arms and over her shoulders.” “By the time she reached the church, her lungs blazed like two oil lamps.” “Serpents coiled around her chest, thinning her air.”“Her entire body became a heartbeat.” “A good sign, yet Matrona’s nerves stung her limbs like hornets.” “Matrona’s skin burned like he was the sun.” All in all, this is a gem of a book, with enough mystery, magic, romance, historical notes and action to please readers from virtually any genre. This is probably the best book I've read so far this year—and I don’t give out five-star reviews easily! I was given an advanced reading copy of this book, but my opinion is 100% my own and I’m already planning to purchase and give physical copies for myself and friends of mine after the July release of this book. It’s that good. ;)
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  • YA and Wine
    July 3, 2017
    The Fifth Doll reads like a classic fairytale, is wildly imaginative, and so much fun. This story is so unique and creative. I've never read anything like it before, and I absolutely devoured it.The magic system in this story is so original and just so Charlie Holmberg. If you've read her other novels, you will totally understand what I mean when I say that Charlie's books, characters, and the magic systems within them are unlike anyone else's. Charlie has a truly individual writing style, and I The Fifth Doll reads like a classic fairytale, is wildly imaginative, and so much fun. This story is so unique and creative. I've never read anything like it before, and I absolutely devoured it.The magic system in this story is so original and just so Charlie Holmberg. If you've read her other novels, you will totally understand what I mean when I say that Charlie's books, characters, and the magic systems within them are unlike anyone else's. Charlie has a truly individual writing style, and I always find her books so fun and refreshing. What I loved about this magic system was that it is very specific. It isn't a no-holds-bar type of system where magic swoops in to easily resolve the conflicts in the story. Matrona has to really fight to overcome the obstacles she faces.And speaking of Matrona, she was an incredibly likable character, who was so easy to root for throughout the story. There is an inner-goodness and innocence about her, but there is definitely some fierceness to her too.I absolutely loved the little village this book is set in. It's so charming on the surface but has layers of darkness and mystery underneath that were both captivating and sometimes a bit creepy. Perfect setting for this tale.While Matrona's discovery of, and fight against, the dark magic looming over her little village is the main focus of this story, there is also a super sweet romance that I enjoyed so much.The Fifth Doll is a really fun read that is sure to entertain readers of all ages.Thanks so much to Amazon Publishing for granting me a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jolene Perry
    June 13, 2017
    This book was incredibly cool.I loved the MC, I adored the love interest, and there was a creepy aspect that I wasn't totally expecting, but that was FANTASTIC.Charlie always has the most interesting love stories in the sense that they rarely follow traditional romance patterns, and I LOVE it.Great world. Fab Characters. Definitely going on my re-read shelf.
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  • Sara
    July 14, 2017
    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I love Russian dolls. There's something quite soothing about opening and arranging rows of little wooden figures. I also really like stories with a touch of Russian history, so when I read the blurb for this book, I was really excited to read it. Matrona finds a room in her neighbour's house filled with Russian dolls that all bare a resemblance to the people in her village. Unable to resist, she touches one that resembles her fathe I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I love Russian dolls. There's something quite soothing about opening and arranging rows of little wooden figures. I also really like stories with a touch of Russian history, so when I read the blurb for this book, I was really excited to read it. Matrona finds a room in her neighbour's house filled with Russian dolls that all bare a resemblance to the people in her village. Unable to resist, she touches one that resembles her father. However, when her father starts acting strangely she realises there's more to the dolls than first meets the eye. When she is later forced to open and confront what's inside her own doll, she discovers secrets that may have been left alone. I ended up enjoying about 2/3 of this book, but about 70% in it all started to fall apart and I got really, really confused. I loved the beginning - it was atmospheric with a current of underlying tension. Everything is too perfect, and the villagers are very compliant. It creates a good build up of uneasiness, and it's alluded to very early on that something isn't right in this idyllic village when someone comments 'What is snow?', and I liked this bit of foreshadowing. The concept itself, that the villagers are all represented within Russian dolls was very unique. I loved the slow unravelling of the secrets that came with each doll opening, and was eager to read on to find out what the elusive 'fifth doll' would reveal. It felt like, with each layer, we were peeling away the layers of the characters. I liked the relationship between Matrona and Jaska. In particular, the tension created after the reveal from the first doll opening was great. That meeting on the path was amazing, and the writing did a great job of creating such awkwardness between the two. If anything though, I though the relationship between the two could have been developed even further, and I was disappointed it took a backseat. It was when Matrona went through that back door at Slava's that things went a bit downhill for me. The big reveal behind the secret of the 'fifth doll' felt a bit flat after the sensational reveals of the previous dolls, and also quite predictable. It also got a bit convoluted and confusing. A doll within a doll within a house? I don't mind a complicated story if it makes sense, but this didn't really. I also felt there wasn't enough a backstory about Slava to explain his actions. A promising start but a confusing end.
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  • Amy A
    July 21, 2017
    3.5 Review to come
  • Judith Moore
    July 8, 2017
    Full review (and more) up on my blog: http://bit.ly/2tysFQdWhat I loved most about The Paper Magician series was that they were super easy to read. They were like the literature equivalent of a hot cup of cocoa and a comfy chair. This book is somewhat less lovey dovey than those books are (I would use the word ‘darker’ but then I remembered all the blood magic in The Paper Magician and rethought my choices) but it still has that ‘easy read’ sense to it. I think it took me about an afternoon to g Full review (and more) up on my blog: http://bit.ly/2tysFQdWhat I loved most about The Paper Magician series was that they were super easy to read. They were like the literature equivalent of a hot cup of cocoa and a comfy chair. This book is somewhat less lovey dovey than those books are (I would use the word ‘darker’ but then I remembered all the blood magic in The Paper Magician and rethought my choices) but it still has that ‘easy read’ sense to it. I think it took me about an afternoon to get through this one, it’s not overly complicated, neither is it patronising. Maybe it’s like a hot cup of coffee in a comfy chair?I love matryoshka dolls and the use of them in this semi-fantasy setting was really cool (I actually think the cover could have used this element even more and could have been even more pretty). In terms of world building I think this worked well given that, for the majority of the book, the world is a little mysterious.In terms of strong female protagonists this one was fairly good? It’s a hard line to tread when you’re writing a book with that ‘easy read’ vibe because you don’t want to make the characterisation too heavy but equally you don’t want to make a non-character. I think Holmberg does a good job of creating a varied cast of characters in such a short story.I think this book tackles the idea of growing up and being exposed through the medium of this fantasy story in a subtle but effective way. It’s thought provoking and at times it’s really powerful. There’s also a little bit of romance that ties in with that but it’s not too intrusive, it just adds to that comfiness of the read.I’m not going to suggest that this is one of the great works of literature of our time. But it was a stupendously enjoyable read and was a thoroughly pleasant book to sit down and read in one afternoon.Hence my review of 5/5 stars.By the way, I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher (47 North) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Sarah (Workaday Reads)
    July 25, 2017
    This was a very creative and entertaining Russian-based tale. It mixes magic with a bit of horror to produce a story that is hard to put down. I loved the way everything unfolded, like the layers on the Russian dolls. There was something new in each chapter, and yet it all worked together to create a magical story.
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  • Joe Crowe
    June 27, 2017
    This one is part horror story, part fairy tale. Wait. That's pretty much the same thing. It has elements of a Twilight Zone episode, but the author is less interested in a shock ending than in really digging into the lives in a quaint village where bad stuff happens when the hero opens up a nesting doll with her father's face. The whole mess starts when she discovers nesting dolls emblazoned with the whole town's faces. She doesn't understand the lesson that everyone in any horror story must lea This one is part horror story, part fairy tale. Wait. That's pretty much the same thing. It has elements of a Twilight Zone episode, but the author is less interested in a shock ending than in really digging into the lives in a quaint village where bad stuff happens when the hero opens up a nesting doll with her father's face. The whole mess starts when she discovers nesting dolls emblazoned with the whole town's faces. She doesn't understand the lesson that everyone in any horror story must learn: Stop touching things. The story is a neat fantasy adventure, told in an unabashed homage to folklore and seeped in magic. (review from an advance copy).
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  • Rhonda
    June 18, 2017
    I'm not one for reading blurbs. Most of the time, I jump right into a book with no knowledge of what it's about. But I read the blurb for this book and was immediately hooked. I hoped that the book itself could live up to how the blurb made me feel.And it did.I fell in love with this book. I read it like it was water and I was stranded in the desert. I needed to know more. Each twist in the book twisted my gut. It made me hunger for the rest of the story even as I was worried at what would come I'm not one for reading blurbs. Most of the time, I jump right into a book with no knowledge of what it's about. But I read the blurb for this book and was immediately hooked. I hoped that the book itself could live up to how the blurb made me feel.And it did.I fell in love with this book. I read it like it was water and I was stranded in the desert. I needed to know more. Each twist in the book twisted my gut. It made me hunger for the rest of the story even as I was worried at what would come next. This story was woven so tightly, I felt like it was a favorite sweater that I could pull tight around my shoulders. I began to feel these characters were my friends. Matrona, though naive, overeager to please, and too submissive for my taste at first, grew into a strong woman who made tough choices that effected not only herself, but her family and her village. Slava, this mysterious man who trapped Matrona into doing his bidding, ended up the greatest surprise of all. The reasonings for what he did and who he was were something I didn't see coming. I loved the writing, most of all. The little details of the village. The lack of smiles and warm touch. The single dimple with the half-smile. The look of the sky as the story began to unfold. Each detail brought with it a images of the world the author created, bringing to life the village in which Matrona lived.I went into this book hoping that I would like the story. Instead, I ended up loving it.
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  • Michelle Garrett
    June 29, 2017
    This book was different and I had fun with it. Also Jaska is hot.
  • Jenny Lee
    May 26, 2017
    Although the start of the story was a little slow, this progressed to a real page turner! Magic, mystery and a pinch of romance.
  • S a r a h
    May 20, 2017
    I really hoped I would LOVE this book, but alas, it ended up being just ok. I feel the novel had a really good idea but little things prevented this story from being great. This is a very predictable novel as far as the characters go. The plot was pretty confusing and kept me hooked until the last few chapters. I admit, I got kind of burnt out and ended up skimming the last chapters though. I had a problem with the protagonist being twenty-six but throughout the whole novel I felt she was more i I really hoped I would LOVE this book, but alas, it ended up being just ok. I feel the novel had a really good idea but little things prevented this story from being great. This is a very predictable novel as far as the characters go. The plot was pretty confusing and kept me hooked until the last few chapters. I admit, I got kind of burnt out and ended up skimming the last chapters though. I had a problem with the protagonist being twenty-six but throughout the whole novel I felt she was more in her teens. I guess it was because of her mannerisms, naivete and the way her parents treated her. I am only a year older, but I have much more maturity than her character. She did not seem very believable and slightly annoying because I felt being her age, she needed to suck it up and act like an adult.I also felt there was not enough world building and character development in the beginning. It took me many chapters into the novel to figure out where this was located and even more chapters to get an idea of the time era. The novel moved both fast and slow-if that is possible? The first half was hurried through and things happened so fast I had a bit of whiplash. Then, just past the half way mark, it started to slow down and started to drag on. Overall, I felt the book had a lot of potential and the story was interesting enough. It is a unique and original idea and I believe many will really enjoy this novel.
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  • Greg Garguilo
    July 25, 2017
    Seems like everything begins with a disclaimer these days... Fine, I'll follow that lead.I don't know the publisher, am not close with the author, did not win a copy, nor did I read an advance publishing copy in exchange for an honest review. I went to Amazon this morning, downloaded a copy for my Kindle, and read the work this morning. I do read a lot - 2 to 3 works a week, more when I can manage it. Goodreads says this is my 80th work this year - though its counting some E-zines of Short Stori Seems like everything begins with a disclaimer these days... Fine, I'll follow that lead.I don't know the publisher, am not close with the author, did not win a copy, nor did I read an advance publishing copy in exchange for an honest review. I went to Amazon this morning, downloaded a copy for my Kindle, and read the work this morning. I do read a lot - 2 to 3 works a week, more when I can manage it. Goodreads says this is my 80th work this year - though its counting some E-zines of Short Stories (Deep Magic) and one book I put down without finishing. I do like epic Fantasy, similar Science Fiction, some Sword and Sorcery and the occasional lighter fare. I do not, generally, care for romance or mindless filler. Enough about me. **Spoiler Free**The Fifth Doll is a brief, YA, light romance novella brought to life by Charlie N Holmberg's remarkable skill with imagery, able to conjure vast vistas and vibrant scenes with sparse words, allowing the work to be "bigger" inside than its 250 odd pages would otherwise suggest. As with her "Magician" series (which I feel this story surpasses), she makes the most of the limitations of the length by tight focus on a few characters, and by incorporating the inability to further flesh out peripheral characters and the broader world into the weave of the story itself, providing a satisfying consistency to the work. The protagonist behaves somewhat younger than her natural age suggests, a fact other reviewers have commented on, but I believe that quibble adequately explained by the situation she eventually finds herself, and her village, trapped within.The world itself is a Russian peasant village of somewhat ambiguous time frame, a mystery she uses to good effect as the story develops, key to a plot reveal I won't spoil here. The magic too, feels consistent in its reveal, Mrs. Holmberg maintaining the steady pacing of the work by not bogging the story down with needless description of its mechanics. It is enough that the reader get the sense of the thing as the story progresses, unnecessary details discarded. The story is the focus here, not the place, the magic, or most of the people within it. The romance here is integral to the story, but ultimately, its not the story - only the natural outcome of character growth. Even the chief antagonist is left morally ambiguous throughout most of the work, the reader to draw their own conclusions at the story's end. In this way, The Fifth Doll earned its five star rating for me by transcending the normal limitations of the genre - offering vibrant imagery, believable character growth, and something to ponder as the last page is turned.Was it perfect? No, I felt some chapters just past the mid point were a bit weaker than the rest, but overall, I enjoyed this book, and will think about this book in the days to come. Certainly more than her Magician series, which I previously reviewed favorably (and continue to recommend), or her "Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet", which I reviewed less favorably. Unlike the "Magician" series, where I wanted the individual works to be longer to better flesh out certain favored characters and smoother character growth, I am satisfied with the length of this work. It "feels" complete to me.With that, I leave my strong recommend that you consider this piece to fill an evening, and your thoughts for some time to follow.
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  • Jamie Moesser
    July 16, 2017
    What The Fifth Doll is AboutMatrona, the main character, 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. Slava owns a strange collection of painted nesting dolls—one for every villager. Through a series of accidents, Matrona discovers that each doll is connected to its villager in a very real sense, and that What The Fifth Doll is AboutMatrona, the main character, 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. Slava owns a strange collection of painted nesting dolls—one for every villager. Through a series of accidents, Matrona discovers that each doll is connected to its villager in a very real sense, and that gives Slava the opportunity to blackmail Matrona into caring for the dolls. 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.My Opinion of the BookIn the same way that a rug is carefully-woven, through a series of complicated-looking stitches, a relatively simple but beautiful rug, so does Holmberg weave a tale that is both complicated and intricate, yet artistic and wondrous. Each stitch is a detail that Matrona notices, a development in the story, an action she takes to get closer to the fifth dolls' truths. She is compelled, both by Slava and the desire to rid herself of the spells he casts over the dolls, to unravel another "rug," an even more complicated and much less beautiful version of the bigger one. That rug looks more like a web, and its woven with the lies and secrets that Slava has cast over Matrona and her whole village.Indeed, when Matrona gets to the point where she's gathered as many clues as she can and puts them all together, that's when she's able to see Slava's web for what it is, and that's when the rug of a tale that Holmberg has woven begins to unravel as well. As Matrona works to unstitch all of Slava's handiwork, alongside her Holmberg unravels the rug to reveal a long length of incredibly beautiful fabric covered in a sophisticated print but with a feather-soft feel.The fabric, laid out and looked at in its entirety, represents the story as well as all the backstory that came before it and the opportunities the ending represents. At the core of that story is a magic system that was so complex I feel it will take at least one more read-through for me to fully understand it. When that system started to feel too complicated for my little brain to comprehend, I comforted myself with softness of Holmberg's style.Take this passage, for example:A shifting of darkness at the window caught the corner of her eye; she turned, but saw nothing in the gap between her curtains. The wood had devoured the last wisps of twilight. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, she tugged the curtains completely closed. Then she blew out her candle, bathing herself in darkness, and slid it and a single match into her pocket.There's such a sense of place in the simple details she provides, and a subtle way of building suspense through sentence structures that reflect Matrona's moods. At the beginning of that paragraph, she's pensive and nervous, which is reflected in the first long sentence. But by the end, she's purposeful and her actions compound upon themselves: she tugs the curtains, blows the candle out, then slides things into her pocket.Lest I wax too analytical, though, go back to the video of the rug and imagine running that soft fabric through your fingers. That's how it feels to read The Fifth Doll, or really, any one of Holmberg's books.
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  • Meghan Lloyd
    July 20, 2017
    I'm beginning to think that Charlie Holmberg is incapable of writing a bad novel. The best part about her writing is that, unlike a lot of authors out there, her books just keep getting more creative. She never re-uses ideas and is always creating unique characters unlike any she has written before. Not only does she write amazing stories, but she builds exciting new worlds to explore in each book. I am beginning to liken her to Hans Christian Andersen, because the way her mind works when writin I'm beginning to think that Charlie Holmberg is incapable of writing a bad novel. The best part about her writing is that, unlike a lot of authors out there, her books just keep getting more creative. She never re-uses ideas and is always creating unique characters unlike any she has written before. Not only does she write amazing stories, but she builds exciting new worlds to explore in each book. I am beginning to liken her to Hans Christian Andersen, because the way her mind works when writing these stories is so exciting and different. No book is alike, and no book can be compared to others out there. She is in a league of her own.Matrona Vitsin lives in a world of never ending sunshine. There is no rain nor snow, no war nor hunger. Going about each day working her family's dairy farm, she hopes to have a good marriage to make her parents proud. But one day on the way home, she finds a paintbrush on the path and realizes it belongs to the tradesman, Slava. Hoping to return it to him, she enters his home and discovers a room full of matryoshka dolls. Dolls who look remarkably like her family and neighbors, and even one who looks exactly like herself. When she opens up her own doll to find the smaller one inside, her whole world changes. Now, she is enslaved to Slava, who wants to make her the new keeper of the dolls. Every three days she must open up the next doll within her original doll, and each time her eyes will become wise to her reality. First comes secrets, next comes doubt, third comes memories, and lastly...well, you will have to read further to find out.There is so much to say about this book, but without giving spoilers, it's difficult to tell you how magical it truly is! Even though I had an idea where the story was headed, I still found myself surprised at every turn. While The Fifth Doll focuses more on Matrona's struggle and growth, there is also a sweet romance between herself and the younger son of her neighbor. He is seven years younger, so in her quiet, conservative village, it is forbidden to act on her feelings. When you-know-what hits the fan, that all flies out the window, and the reader really gets to see Matrona and her sweetheart shine. I particularly liked how she didn't stick with her awful betrothed for very long and realized where her heart truly lied. It made the ending all the sweeter.As always, I eagerly anticipate Charlie Holmberg's next book! I leave the story with a recurring thought in mind, "What will she think of next?"**I received a free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
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  • Ashley Wilkinson
    July 19, 2017
    *I received a free ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*Another solid story from Holmberg.I loved the originality of the plot. Without revealing spoilers, I thought the whole idea with the dolls was new and kinda creepy and the mystery made me want to keep reading. The payoff/reveal at the end did not disappoint. I also liked that it was a stand-alone (though there is definitely room for expansion if the author so chooses!)Matrona is the leading lady. She's a dut *I received a free ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*Another solid story from Holmberg.I loved the originality of the plot. Without revealing spoilers, I thought the whole idea with the dolls was new and kinda creepy and the mystery made me want to keep reading. The payoff/reveal at the end did not disappoint. I also liked that it was a stand-alone (though there is definitely room for expansion if the author so chooses!)Matrona is the leading lady. She's a dutiful daughter who wants to be good and virtuous and strives hard to please her parents and those in her community. She's in her mid-twenties and not married, though she's finally secured an engagement to a man in her village, Feodor. Throughout the book, we see Matrona grow and come to realize that she deserves more than she's been given, and that being so submissive and deferring will never bring her the happiness she wants. I loved this character arc, and how she questions her actions but boldly goes forward with what she feels is right.Jaska was the main secondary character, and I thought he was hot. Like those were VERY vivid character descriptions XD. Very good as the romantic interest, but also a good balance with Matrona. The other characters in the village are well-done and detailed enough that they stand out as individuals.There were a couple really powerful scenes, such as (slight spoilers) when Matrona has to fight off darkness and harsh words from within herself. Matrona was totally incapacitated, even though physically there was nothing wrong with her, and her family and friends basically told her to get up and move on, not understanding the anguish she felt. It was especially poignant coming after she receives harsh treatment from others in her village. Even though that was hard to bear, it was nowhere near as bad as what she causes herself. I thought it was such a vivid portrayal of not only the negativity we unleash on ourselves so often, but also was such a good way of showing the reality of living with depression and anxiety. Overall, a haunting, magical, tantalizing read.
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  • Denice Barker
    July 17, 2017
    The Fifth Doll by Charlie HolmbergA little bit fantasy, a little bit magic, a little bit mystery, a little bit otherworldly, that’s The Fifth Doll. Matrona lives in a small village where everyone has a place, a home, food and no one seems to want to leave, it’s so…so nice. Matrona included. She is a dutiful daughter agreeing to marry someone who is the obvious choice for her. She does, though, question her friendship with another young man in the village, someone who is totally wrong for her.One The Fifth Doll by Charlie HolmbergA little bit fantasy, a little bit magic, a little bit mystery, a little bit otherworldly, that’s The Fifth Doll. Matrona lives in a small village where everyone has a place, a home, food and no one seems to want to leave, it’s so…so nice. Matrona included. She is a dutiful daughter agreeing to marry someone who is the obvious choice for her. She does, though, question her friendship with another young man in the village, someone who is totally wrong for her.One day while on an errand, Matrona enters the house of a tradesman, Slava and she discovers a collection of nesting dolls. She has never seen anything like them and these looked all too familiar. They are all painted to look like someone in the village. They’re all there. What can she do? She opens the doll that looks like her father and the next day her father begins to act not like himself.Slava knows when something has been touched and he confronts Matrona about touching the dolls. She is now, he said, the curator of the dolls and passes their care on to her. She doesn’t want the job, thank you very much, but it’s hers whether she wants it or not. Matrona can’t help herself. She opens her own doll and begins acting very strangely. Three days later, she opens her second doll and is quite besieged with strangeness. In three days she opens the third. With each opening, she experiences new thoughts and feelings and with each opening these are worse than the one before. But it’s the fifth doll that tells it all. And it’s a good thing we understand that this book is a little bit fantasy, a little bit magic, a little bit mystery and a little bit otherworldly.
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  • Laura Newsholme
    July 26, 2017
    There are some interesting ideas at play here, but for me the pacing of the narrative really hampered the story. This is the story of Matrona, a soon to be married young woman in an isolated village and the discovery of the wooden dolls that depict every member of the community. The overall plot is sound and fairly well told in readable prose, but the pacing is terrible. The majority of the book is taken up with Matrona opening her doll layers and the revelations each layer contains along with t There are some interesting ideas at play here, but for me the pacing of the narrative really hampered the story. This is the story of Matrona, a soon to be married young woman in an isolated village and the discovery of the wooden dolls that depict every member of the community. The overall plot is sound and fairly well told in readable prose, but the pacing is terrible. The majority of the book is taken up with Matrona opening her doll layers and the revelations each layer contains along with the machinations of village life, in all its small minded glory. The climax of the narrative happens abruptly and there was just not enough exploration of the ideas entailed therein. I enjoyed the village and the characters and I felt that this action was really important to have sympathy for our protagonist. I just wish that the ending had been equally as detailed. I would have loved to spend more time seeing the results of Matrona's actions and I also felt that some of the characters were dealt with in very short shrift. Overall, I wanted more from this book.I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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  • Susana Zemlyakova
    July 12, 2017
    The Fifth Doll is a beautiful and whimsical take on the origin of the Matryoshka dolls. Set in an almost fairytale country setting, the plot follows Matrona, a timid dairymaid, who uncovers an unusual assortment of dolls at the tradesman's cabin. Her discovery draws her into the hands of Slava, a tradesman with a dark past and an unhealthy obsession. With each doll, Matrona's character develops. First comes confidence then self-awareness and finally self-love. Matrona transforms into a heroine a The Fifth Doll is a beautiful and whimsical take on the origin of the Matryoshka dolls. Set in an almost fairytale country setting, the plot follows Matrona, a timid dairymaid, who uncovers an unusual assortment of dolls at the tradesman's cabin. Her discovery draws her into the hands of Slava, a tradesman with a dark past and an unhealthy obsession. With each doll, Matrona's character develops. First comes confidence then self-awareness and finally self-love. Matrona transforms into a heroine as she unravels the mystery and saves her village.If you are a fan of The Paper Magician or Followed by Frost, you will love The Fifth Doll! Holmberg brings her usual charm to this one. The pacing is perfect and the plot includes aspects of romance as well as mystery. I also appreciated that the referenсes to Russian lore and Russian vocabulary were subtle. Every novel I have seen of late over does it - you get the entire peanut gallery : Kashei, Baba Yaga, Vasilisa, Tzars...5 stars for a another beautifully written story! I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you 47North!
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  • Kimberly
    June 25, 2017
    This is an excellent and imaginative book by Charlie N. Holmberg! Set in a small Russian village, a woman's world is scrambled after discovering a room full of matryoshka dolls that each depict the likeliness of a villager. The uniqueness of the fairytale-esque story kept me perfectly absorbed and eager to know what happened next. The author's writing style seems effortlessly engrossing, so readable, but also wonderfully rich. The imagery is descriptive, but does not overstay it's welcome. The c This is an excellent and imaginative book by Charlie N. Holmberg! Set in a small Russian village, a woman's world is scrambled after discovering a room full of matryoshka dolls that each depict the likeliness of a villager. The uniqueness of the fairytale-esque story kept me perfectly absorbed and eager to know what happened next. The author's writing style seems effortlessly engrossing, so readable, but also wonderfully rich. The imagery is descriptive, but does not overstay it's welcome. The characters are likable and act in realistic manner. My only gripe with the story is the bit of, what I consider, unnecessary romance. While the romance did not feel forced and was, thankfully, minimal in description, I still feel that it really did not add anything critical to the plot. Did it serve as a device of anguish and main character exposition? Yes. But there could have been other ways of doing the same. I must put a disclaimer that I've never been one for romance in novels - especially the "oh-woe-is-me", desperate longing type. Saying all that, however, the romance was not particularly disruptive or overdone and did not decrease my enjoyment of the novel overall. One thing I wish this novel included was a glossary for the Russian words. Some of the words were defined in the text or were rather easy to figure out an approximate meaning. However, there were some words that were never defined and, apart from looking them up on the internet, I had no concept to what the characters referred. Thus, if you primarily read without handy access to the web, you might be a bit frustrated with a few terms. Overall, I highly recommend this fantastical read and look forward to more new releases by author Charlie N. Holmberg!Thank you to 47North for providing me with a copy of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
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  • Ali Jones
    May 19, 2017
    I'm a huge fan of the author and have really enjoyed all of her books so far including this one! It was a different direction than her previous books, based in olden day Russia instead of a fantasy world. The book did take longer to get into, and the beginning didn't hold my attention nearly as well as prior books, but once the "magic" aspect of the book was reached, it really began to pick up and by the end I couldn't put the book down! I also liked the truly unique story. I have read many fant I'm a huge fan of the author and have really enjoyed all of her books so far including this one! It was a different direction than her previous books, based in olden day Russia instead of a fantasy world. The book did take longer to get into, and the beginning didn't hold my attention nearly as well as prior books, but once the "magic" aspect of the book was reached, it really began to pick up and by the end I couldn't put the book down! I also liked the truly unique story. I have read many fantasy novels but never one like this and it kept me guessing until almost the end! If you liked her prior books, I highly recommend The Fifth Doll!
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  • Cammi
    June 29, 2017
    Interesting read. This story reminded me a little of the book The giver and the movie The village. With the opening of each doll Matrona learns that her world is not all that it seems. I felt that the character development was good, and I enjoyed the story. After discovering a room full of matryoshka dolls wearing the faces of her village, a woman learns she may be trapped inside one--but unraveling the sorcery carved into each doll unleashes dark consequences that rip her from the only home she Interesting read. This story reminded me a little of the book The giver and the movie The village. With the opening of each doll Matrona learns that her world is not all that it seems. I felt that the character development was good, and I enjoyed the story. After discovering a room full of matryoshka dolls wearing the faces of her village, a woman learns she may be trapped inside one--but unraveling the sorcery carved into each doll unleashes dark consequences that rip her from the only home she remembers.Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC.
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  • Gabriela
    March 24, 2017
    The brilliant idea behind this novel took me fully unprepared for the feeling of amazingness that engulfed me upon finishing it. I fullheartedly recommend this book to everyone interested in Russian culture (!?), dystopia and mysticism — a beautiful combination!My most favorite element of this novel was the world created by Holmberg through the character of Slava, the mysticist. There is a huge chunk of reality interspersed with bits of supernatural, barely visible to any other characters but Ma The brilliant idea behind this novel took me fully unprepared for the feeling of amazingness that engulfed me upon finishing it. I fullheartedly recommend this book to everyone interested in Russian culture (!?), dystopia and mysticism — a beautiful combination!My most favorite element of this novel was the world created by Holmberg through the character of Slava, the mysticist. There is a huge chunk of reality interspersed with bits of supernatural, barely visible to any other characters but Matrona and Jaska. I will not retell here the story, as you can find yhe synopsis on Goodreads.My favorite character is Matrona, for her boldness and determination. It is amazing that she could muster the courage to make a change, despite all the magic and warnings that it might not be appreciated by all the villagers once the safe world they had known for 20 years was taken away from them. The paradox here: should one be content with an easy and comfortable life while being completely manipulated OR rather have free will to achieve their dreams through the harsh reality of life?The dolls gave me creeps at times and I was almost angry with Matrona for not having the patience and enough self-control learn all the ropes from Slava before rebelling against his creation. I found the dolls a fantastic element, the author fully managing to portray their role and eventually to unravel the rules of Slava’s magic.I absolutely got engrossed by Feodor and was so content with the answer given to him by Matrona in the end. He deserved nothing, such a low person. Surely his character was needed to balance the good with the bad, the magic with what was real. It proves at the same time how people can choose to be manipulated if that means they should not struggle, nor struggle much for their daily bread.The Fifth Doll is a gem of a book, a lovely mix of dystopia and fantasy, blended with delicious bits of Russian culture and traditions. I fully recommend this book. I am so glad and thankful I had the chance to read an advance copy, courtesy of the author and Netgalley.
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  • Bubble Bath Books
    July 26, 2017
    The Fifth Doll was downright eerie, bordering on an M. Night Shamalyan movie, slightly east of horror. So on a scale of Barney the Dinosaur to Stephen King's IT, we'd rate The Fifth Doll at a particularly good Twilight Zone episode. We don't do horror, but The Fifth Doll had just the right amount of creepy and mysterious mixed in with fantasy and Russian folklore to be fully palatable to us. Please read our full review at http://wp.me/p5s62b-Vc
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  • Lisa
    June 27, 2017
    I definitely enjoyed this book and found it an easy-to-read page turner. The premise was what initially got me interested in the book; I found it unique and held a lot of potential for good storytelling. The author for the most part fulfilled that potential, though I found there to be a lot of unanswered questions and I found some things toward the end to be confusion. Maybe she's setting up for a sequel?Either way, it's an easy, entertaining read.
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  • Bailey McGee
    April 3, 2017
    *Thank you to Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review*If I ever rate a book by Charlie N. Holmberg anything lower than 4 stars, assume I'm possessed. Every book I have read by Ms. Holmberg has been its own form of magic and "The Fifth Doll" is no different. I don't even know how to articulate how much I enjoyed this. Not to go all Mr. Knightley on this book, but I truly feel like if I loved it less, I could talk about it more. The characters, the plot, the setting--all of *Thank you to Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review*If I ever rate a book by Charlie N. Holmberg anything lower than 4 stars, assume I'm possessed. Every book I have read by Ms. Holmberg has been its own form of magic and "The Fifth Doll" is no different. I don't even know how to articulate how much I enjoyed this. Not to go all Mr. Knightley on this book, but I truly feel like if I loved it less, I could talk about it more. The characters, the plot, the setting--all of it was just. So. Good. The story was beautiful, mysterious, and creepy. The writing is enticing and so easy to get lost in. "The Fifth Doll" pulled me out of my reading slump with strong arms imbued with magical storytelling powers. The only thing I'm sad about is that I'll never get to experience this book for the first time ever again.
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  • Danielle Zimmerman
    July 16, 2017
    I really enjoyed the general mystery of this novel and enjoyed one particular relationship. But some of the bumbling around and repetition of mistakes/missteps kind of irked me. But once everything was set into motion and things started moving quickly, I found that I couldn't put the book down (even when I didn't understand some of what was being uncovered/explained). All in all, it was an enjoyable read.
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