This is the story of a woman who is abducted as a child and held prisoner for eight years. And yes, I know the book market is full of similar stories and too many of them are very happy to go into very precise detail of how the female victim has been abused. Baby Doll is the story of what happens to Lily after she escapes and this isn’t a spoiler because the escape happens during the first few pages. I haven’t ever read a book where the abduction is a thing of the past and couldn’t wait to get started.
She kept moving forward. She didn’t stop. She didn’t look back.
Lily has been abducted from outside her high-school gates.
For eight long years she’s been locked away from the outside world. During that time she’s changed from a girl into a woman. She’s had a baby.
And now she has seized her chance and escaped.
Running for her life, with her daughter in her arms, she returns to her family and the life she used to know – to her much-loved twin sister Abby, her mum, her high-school boyfriend – and her freedom.
But is it possible to go back?
Lily’s perfect life as a teenager doesn’t exist any more. Since she’s been gone, her family’s lives have changed too, in ways she never could have imagined.
Her return, and the revelation of who took her, will send shockwaves through the whole community.
Impossible not to read in one sitting, Baby Doll is a taut psychological thriller that focuses on family entanglements and the evil that can hide behind a benign facade.
This is a story as much about Lily and her daughter adjusting to ‘normal’ life as to her family adjusting to having her back home, especially her twin sister Abby who spent the last eight years drinking her self-loathing and guilt away (well as much ‘away’ as possible). She blames herself for Lily’s kidnapping and she has spent every single one of those eight years absolutely sure that her sister was still alive.
Life has moved on in those eight years and the shock that Lily felt when she first returned was palpable. You know that feeling when you meet a group of friends after ages but they have all kept in touch and everything is slightly dislocated and strange because you are a step behind? This was like that but so much worse. I don’t want to spoil anyone but her mother’s life has changed drastically, her college boyfriend is no longer her college boyfriend, and her sister…well Abby is trying to cope with it all and pregnant.
If Baby Doll was only told from Lily’s POV then I don’t think her family’s stories would have impacted me as much as they did. However Hollie decided to have multiple narrators and this really gripped me and I found myself repulsed (but reading even faster) during Lily’s abductor’s chapters. And this was another very excellent element of the book – we knew who the abductor was from the very beginning, we got chapters from his POV, and we were given the opportunity to hate him with the passion of a thousand fiery suns.
There were elements of Baby Doll which I didn’t enjoy as much as the rest – one particular scene involving a prison guard and the abductor seemed very far fetched but it paved the way for the grand finale and that was pretty epic. However more than just an excellent story Baby Doll also touched on very interesting topics including rape and abortions in America (will there ever be a time when a woman can do what she likes with the contents of her uterus?) and I definitely wanted more of this: it’s not often I get to read about that in a psychological thriller.
And yes, like the blurb says I found it very hard to not read this in one sitting (sleep got in the way).
Baby Doll is out on the 30th of June and I really recommend it. It’s a gripping novel with some truly brilliant twists and turns. I received this book free from the publisher and the free book-based swag hasn’t influenced my opinion or what I have written in this review.