Killer Nashville Book of the Day


Find The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror on Killer Nashville’s affiliate,*


Joyce Carol Oates

The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror
by Joyce Carol Oates
Reviewed by Britany Menken

Stories leap from page to page in true Joyce Carol Oates fashion in her new book, The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror, providing excellent plots that often leave you hankering for more. Each character Oates hones in on is distinct, from a Norman Bates persona to an unreasonable killer who thinks he is justified by God’s law. Each story develops characters and their thoughts in such a way that leaves the reader constantly pondering their true nature.

In the opening act, we read The Doll-Master. At the beginning, we meet a mother, a son, and a little girl, Amy, whose days are numbered due to leukemia. Her doll and its beautiful features entrap the young boy, and he pines for the baby Emily doll, from her blonde curls to the baby booties she dons while joining the other dolls in young Amy’s room. After Amy passes, he takes the doll from her room, the first of many, until adulthood comes, and his one doll has become a collection of dolls from all over. Some forgotten and left, all with different features. By the end, Oates creates a scene that could be put right in the middle of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, and leaves the reader wishing there was just one more sentence.

In the story Soldier, a man is on trial for the murder of a black teen; he chalks up the killing to God’s will. Were there really five men attacking him on the street? Had he no choice except to shoot his gun in self-defense? His quiet love life that occasionally, silently speaks in the story also causes for a more perplexing and curious character. The cliffhanger leaves one with curiosity and imagination. If you’re in the mood for crafty endings and a bundle of wonderfully written characters whose stream of consciousness reels you in, then this is the book for you.

Britany Menken graduated from Tusculum College in ’14 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in British literature. Besides being an avid reader, she enjoys working for different book editing/reviewing outlets online. Other skills include making a mean pot of coffee and being a mom to a gray and orange tabby who occasionally helps her review books. (Said tabby is quite picky.)

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