Welcome back to the Pick of the Week! Now that all the Halloween hoopla is over, we now return to our regularly scheduled posting. But the next few Picks of the Week are a little special, since they’re all going to be works by authors who participated in the Coffin Hop with me. And we’ll begin with:
by J. C. Martin
Background: J. C. Martin is a self-professed “butt-kicking bookworm, girly tomboy, cowardly warrior.” She is a budding writer like myself who has several short stories published in anthologies, and she’s definitely one to look out for. “The Doll” is available for just $0.99 on Amazon in Kindle format, so get to it! You can read more about J. C. Martin, Fighter Writer, at her blog.
What it’s about: The (very real) Island of the Dolls in Mexico is a creepy tourist destination, if only for the imagery of decomposing dolls hanging from every tree as an offering to the girl who drowned there. But when Joyce Parker takes her daughter there on vacation, she learns that there is something much more sinister and supernatural going on at the island.
When they get home, her daughter begins interacting with an imaginary friend who turns out not to be so imaginary. Joyce discovers that her daughter took a doll from the island, and the only way to stop the curse is to go back and return the doll to its place… as long as she can get off the island before dusk…
Why it will keep you up at night: This is a well-paced, atmospheric horror story that bleeds originality and stylistic finesse. Yes, we know the creepy-doll thing has been done before, but this story took a completely real place and explored how utterly macabre that setting really is, intertwining within it a tale of the supernatural.
The ghost who haunts this story is never actually seen, and while it becomes obvious to the reader who the imaginary friend is, it was fun watching the mother begin to understand what’s going on. We never experience the ghost first-hand, which leaves her in the sinister realm of the unknown.
And of course, no good horror story is allowed to end on a mediocre note, and “The Doll” doesn’t disappoint. The end is wonderful and creepy, and the implications will haunt you when you realize where all the dolls came from.