My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads rating: 3.77 with 7,539 ratings (as of 2/6/2020)
London. 1850. The Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and among the crowd watching the spectacle two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning.
When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love.
But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening . . .Synopsis from Goodreads
200 Word Review
I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review.
The Doll Factory is the debut novel of Elizabeth Macneal. It is not a children’s book. Before reading it, some reviewers thought it could be because of the cover. Afterward, they realized they were mistaken.
It is a historical fiction novel set in 1850 London. It revolves around Iris, a doll maker, who dreams of a better life. Iris knows her life drastically changes when she meets Louis Frost, a painter, who agrees to teach her to paint in exchange for sitting as his model. What she does not know is it also drastically changes with a brief exchange with Silas, a strange collector who is entranced and quickly becomes obsessed with Iris.
The story is a slow burn and took a while for me to really get into it. It was because of this, the story felt longer than 336 pages. Macneal’s description of Silas’s increasing obsession with Iris is creepy, dark, and extremely believable. What made it creepier is that Iris does not even remember meeting Silas. Yet, he believes Iris is as infatuated with him as he is with her. This theme has been done before but the 1850 London setting helps make the obsession even darker.