Things Get Creepy In The Doll Collection

doll collection
Do dolls creep you out? Usually dolls don’t bother me, but ventriloquist dummies NOPE! Those things are right up there with clowns for me. Editor Ellen Datlow gave seventeen authors the challenge of writing a scary short story involving dolls, but NO EVIL DOLLS ALLOWED. The people may be evil or the dolls used for evil purposes, but no Chuckies ran rampant through the collection.

What the authors in The Doll Collection came up with is pretty interesting. There are serial killers, magical beings, witches, and supernatural creatures. The dolls are antiques, toys, charms, poppets, puppets, and some barely qualify as dolls.

While I enjoyed most of the stories, I skipped a couple that just weren’t doing it for me. “After and Back Before” (a dystopian story) confused the hell out of me. I felt like I was upside down.
I did have a few favorites.

Heroes and Villains by Stephen Gallagher- This one involves a ventriloquist dummy. Yes, they are gross, but I liked the “moral” of this story. I get the feeling the author was asked to write for free one too many times.

In Case of Zebras by Pat Cadigan- I liked the voice of the narrator. After a car accident, a teenager gets community service at a hospital. When a patient arrives with a tiny doll, things get weird.

Doctor Faustus by Mary Robinette Kowal- This one is pure horror involving a creepy theatre after hours, and an incantation. Maybe don’t go for authenticity when dealing with the devil.

Miss Sibyl-Cassandra by Lucy Sussex- Set up to look like a auction house description, the provenance of a fortune telling doll is given through old letters. The doll was blessed with a special gift by a Roma visitor, the gift of making fortunes come true in unusual ways. There’s a little something for literature fans at the end.

Word Doll by Jeffrey Ford- Presented as factual, a writer visits a special doll museum. I liked the local folklore flavour with the twist at the end.

I read these stories a couple at a time over the last few weeks. Very appropriate for October. Datlow chose wisely and brought the best out of these authors. She also used photos (some she took herself) of some creepy looking dolls to illustrate the stories. I hope they aren’t all her dolls, or how does she close her eyes at night?

This is not the first collection from Datlow that I’ve read. I reviewed Supernatural Noir back in 2011.


  1. This sounds perfect for this time of year.

  2. DOLLS ARE THE CREEPIEST THING and they always look dirty. I'm pretty sure when I was little I refused to touch other kids dolls but was happy to play with stuff animals. This sounds interesting but I've been burned by so many short story collections that were super uneven.


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