The Fifth Doll
In the quiet village where she’s lived her whole life, dutiful and hard-working Matrona spends her days helping her overly-strict parents run the dairy, gossiping with her best friend, Roksana, and anxiously contemplating her upcoming wedding to Feodor. But an unexpected encounter with Slava, the village tradesman, shreds Matrona’s quiet life into nightmare pieces. For she’s seen the collection of nesting dolls in his workshop, and he’s told her what they contain. Now Matrona must decide if she will keep the peace of the village intact, or if she’ll expose Slava and his secrets, possibly destroying them all.
The Fifth Doll is told in a charming, folklore-ish voice that’s reminiscent of a good old-fashioned tale spun in front of the fireplace on a cold winter night. I particularly enjoyed the contrast of the small-town village atmosphere—full of simple townspeople with simple dreams and worries—set against the complex and eerie backdrop of the village that’s not what it seems. The fact that there are motivations and forces shaping the lives of the villagers on a daily basis that they’re completely unaware of adds layers and textures to the story and makes it a very interesting read.
Charlie N. Holmberg