The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Fifth Doll
Charlie N. Holmberg

47 North

Matrona Vitsin lives in an idyllic village where every day is the same as the last. She helps look after the family’s dairy farm, but try as she might Matrona can never please her parents.

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” . . . an elegant touch for character and detail . . . .”

Her mother in particular is hard on her. Matrona hopes her engagement to Feodor, the stolid village butcher, will lead to a better life and stop her unrequited pining for Jaska, youngest son of the village potter. 

A chance find leads Matrona into the beautiful home of the enigmatic village tradesman, Slava Barinov. He takes Matrona to the secret lying at the heart of his house – a room full of nesting dolls, one for each villager including herself. Over the course of days, Slava reveals the purpose of the dolls, and Matrona’s safe and secure world begins to unravel. A great and powerful magic is at work, and Slava is its master. What once seemed safe and secure proves to be a prison, and the dolls are the key. Slava wants Matrona to take his place, but as his attempts to coerce her become increasingly harsh, Matrona revolts. Can she and Jaska overcome Slava’s power and liberate their people from Slava’s magic, no matter the cost?

The Fifth Doll is a fairy tale in the old tradition with a nub of darkness at its heart. Holmberg weaves a skillful story with an elegant touch for character and detail, one sure to please lovers of modern fantasy.


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Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews