‘The Doll Funeral’ Is Strange and Hypnotic [REVIEW]


Battered and left behind, a young child dreams of something more. (Photo by Jack Lyons, Flickr)

A young girl caught in a nightmare dreams of another life. In some ways she envies Lewis Carroll’s Alice, who disappeared down the rabbit hole to find herself in an enchanted world. Yet there is no magical fall into a land populated by cheshire cats and mad hatters for her. She does have a glimmer of hope, however, when she receives an unexpected revelation on her thirteenth birthday. Find out what happens to her in Kate Hamer’s new novel, The Doll Funeral. 


Melville House

Ruby despises her parents. Cruel, abusive, and still grieving for the daughter they lost, Mick and Barbara have never treated Ruby with a nurturing hand and a loving heart. Barbara can be kind at times, but she’s never really had Ruby’s best interests in mind. But on Ruby’s thirteenth birthday they give her a gift that has her spinning around singing with joy like Maria on the Austrian mountaintops in The Sound of Music. They tell her that she is adopted!

Once the news sinks in she is determined to escape the clutches of her adoptive family and find her birth parents. She knows in her heart of hearts that they must have had an extremely good reason for giving her away, and she doesn’t fault them for that. But she does want to reunite with them as soon as possible. So she throws all her worldly possessions in a pillow case and takes to the woods with her favorite companion, her imaginary friend, the Shadow Boy.

Together they find a group of siblings living deep in the forest. They take her in and treat her like family—or at least the closest thing to a family that Ruby has ever known—yet she can never quite be sure who is looking out for her best interests and who may have malicious intentions. It’s all quite mysterious and frequently surreal, and yet it all makes for a very captivating read.

Hamer is a brilliant storyteller who uses alternating perspectives to relate the story, much like William Faulkner did in Absalom, Absalomand it serves to keep the reader guessing about why Anna, Ruby’s birth mother, actually did give her away as a baby and what will ultimately happen to the novel’s young protagonist. The author shifts us back and forth through time, between what happenend to Anna, Ruby, and even the Shadow Boy, and yet it never is confusing, just strange and hypnotic, like a pocket watch undulating slowly before our eyes, captivating us until the very last page.

Readers who love the work of authors like Joy Fielding and Chris Ewan are going to fall under the spell of Hamer’s capable pen. She has crafted a fine novel about family, hope, and imagination, and wound it in a shroud of mystery that readers will not be able to shirk. The Doll Funeral is British fiction at its best.


Kate Hamer

Kate Hamer
(Photo by Mei Williams)

Kate Hamer is the author of The Girl in the Red Coat, which was a Costa First Novel Award finalist, a Dagger Award finalist, and Amazon Best Book of the Year in 2016, and a winner of the ELLE Lettres Readers’ Prize.

Her short fiction has also garnered much aclaim. She has won the Rhys Davies short story prize in 2011 and the story was broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and her short stories have been published in anthologies such as A Fiction Map of Wales and New Welsh Short Stories. 

In addition, she has written articles and reviews for the Independent, the Sunday Mail, and the New York Times.

Kate grew up in the West Country and Pembrokeshire and now lives in Cardiff, Wales, with her husband and two children.

Want to learn more? Visit Kate at her home on the Web and follow her on Twitter.

By Kate Hamer
336 pgs. Melville House. $25.99

Purchase The Doll Funeral at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Books-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble.

The Doll Funeral is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

The Doll Funeral Giveaway

Congratulations to Donna Duvall who just won a copy of The Doll Funeral. Although this giveaway is now closed, look for future opportunities to win other great prizes from Jathan & Heather.


About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

2 Responses to ‘The Doll Funeral’ Is Strange and Hypnotic [REVIEW]

  1. Pingback: Kate Hamer, author of THE DOLL FUNERAL, on tour August/September 2017 | TLC Book Tours

  2. I have to admit that you really creeped me out with that doll photo! *shudder* But the book sounds fantastic and I’m looking forward to reading it.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

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