I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: The Dolls #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on September 2, 2014
Source: the publisher
Eveny Cheval just moved back to Louisiana after spending her childhood in New York with her aunt Bea. Eveny hasn’t seen her hometown since her mother’s suicide fourteen years ago, and her memories couldn’t have prepared her for what she encounters. Because pristine, perfectly manicured Carrefour has a dark side full of intrigue, betrayal, and lies—and Eveny quickly finds herself at the center of it all.
Enter Peregrine Marceau, Chloe St. Pierre, and their group of rich, sexy friends known as the Dolls. From sipping champagne at lunch to hooking up with the hottest boys, Peregrine and Chloe have everything—including an explanation for what’s going on in Carrefour. And Eveny doesn’t trust them one bit.
But after murder strikes and Eveny discovers that everything she believes about herself, her family, and her life is a lie, she must turn to the Dolls for answers. Something’s wrong in paradise, and it’s up to Eveny, Chloe, and Peregrine to save Carrefour and make it right.
I’ve been dying to read The Dolls ever since I first saw it on Tea Time (Hosted by Epic Reads, A.K.A HarperTeen) during their Fall 2014 #ARCParty. The second Margot and Aubry began discussing it, I was major grabby hands! First of all, it has a GORGEOUS cover! Then, Margot described it as “Pretty Little Liars meets The Craft” and called it a “southern gothic boarding school cattiness” book. Sooo… Yeah, I was completely and totally hooked. I DESPERATELY wanted to get my hands on it! Well, the Book Gods smiled down on me because it was already on Edelweiss (An online site for reviewers and bloggers)! So I went and downloaded it right after #ARCParty was over! Sadly, I wasn’t able to read it right away – which I seriously regret now, knowing how much I loved it!! I wish I had read it sooner!!
First of all, I loved the characters in this book! All of them! Even the ones I wasn’t supposed to like. Sullivan did an amazing job creating these multi-dimensional characters. For almost every character, there was more to them than the face they showed the world. While they would say one thing to friends, they’d be feeling the complete opposite on the inside. Or, in some cases, they had mixed feelings/emotions, but didn’t want to be made fun of or ostracized for those feelings – something I think almost everyone can relate to.
Eveny was a fun protagonist. Like many YA characters, she has a tragic back-story, but it’s a bit more complex than it seems at first glance. She was cautious when she had to be, yet she seemed to trust too easily. I liked that she was hesitant to believe the stories she was told; it made it seem more realistic. Because really, if you were told all the things Eveny was told, you’d be skeptical at first, too… Unless you read a ton of YA, then you’d probably be totally on board! But anyway.. I felt there was a nice balance of her being skeptical and her doing what had to be done in order to protect those she loved. She was kind of like the moral compass of the story.
Peregrine reminded me a LOT of Noelle from Kate Brian’s Private series. She enjoyed the privilege and wealth afforded her and she reveled in the power she had. But she had moments where she was very vulnerable, too. Even when she was being horrible to Eveny, I had a hard time getting upset with her because I could tell there was more to her than that. I’m curious if we’ll get to see more of her vulnerable side in the sequel. Chloe was a bit of a cliche. She was the eager side-kick who wanted to do everything she could to please Peregrine. But she definitely had a mind of her own and, when necessary, expressed her opinions and feelings. She stepped up when she had to.
Arelia and Margaux really annoyed me in the beginning. They were the mean, snobby girls who assumed hanging with the “cool” people would entitle them to everything the “cool” people were entitled to. They were horrible to Eveny, too. But near the middle/end of the book, there’s a HUGE revelation with Arelia that completely changed my opinion about her.
Now for the guys! Let’s start with Drew! He was the awesome sweet-talker and had the boy-next-door feel in the beginning. He had moments where he was very judgmental, though, and a bit high and mighty about certain things. But that was explained at the end and whoa… *Clears throat* And Caleb!! I expected Caleb to be that “hot jock” who falls for the “average girl” and tells her she’s “so different from other girls…” Which would have been completely cliche and annoying. But I’m pretty sure Caleb ended up being the most interesting, complex character in the whole book. His backstory and the explanation of everything.. It just blew my mind.
I loved that the adults were kind of/sort of/at times involved and helping. You don’t see that often in YA. I liked Aunt Bea, though she totally loses brownie points for all the lies and deception. She had her reasons, I get that, but still! She could have saved everyone a LOT of trouble if she’d just been honest. Mrs. Marceau and Mrs. St. Pierre were interesting characters, though, and I’d love to learn more of the background on them and Eveny’s mother in the sequel. Also, Eveny’s dad… Which…. *Zips lips* I can’t because spoilers but OMG!!! Also, I loved Boniface! Not really sure how to describe him without spoilers, so just read the book and see for yourself!
The overall tone/feel of this book was CREEPY and EPIC. The first thing we learn about Carrefour is that it’s locked behind a giant fence/gate with a magical key handed down from generation to generation. No one can enter the town if they don’t have a key. Basically, everything that could possibly be creepy about a town, is creepy about this town.
The funny thing is, as I was reading, I had forgotten that Margot (Epic Reads) had described the book as “Pretty Little Liars meets The Craft.” I remembered hearing it was like a Southern version of Pretty Little Liars with magic, though. Then, about 20% into the eARC, I wrote a Goodreads status saying that “So far, this has a Pretty Little Liars meets The Craft feel to it.” Which means that Margot was dead-on with her description! It also reminded me a little bit of Beautiful Creatures, just for the southern gothic part of it.
The ending was insane and twisty and creepy and not at all what I expected. So many things happened, I felt like my head was spinning. I actually got to the end and couldn’t believe it was over – I was convinced there had to be AT LEAST one more chapter and I was SO SAD when I realized there wasn’t! I hadn’t heard if there was going to be a sequel, either, so that didn’t help my feels! But then I stalked Sullivan’s Twitter account and found out that there IS, indeed, going to be a sequel! And now I’m all excited!!! It’s not coming out until 2015, though, which is really far away.. I just hope we don’t have to wait until next September for the sequel! I seriously don’t think I can wait that long!!
So, overall (if you couldn’t tell from my review), I absolutely loved The Dolls. It was a creepy, gothic, magical read that I think will appeal to fans of Pretty Little Liars, The Craft and Beautiful Creatures. Also, I think fans of House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple will love it, too! In both books, magic has consequences. You can’t just cast spells and charms and get off scot-free – every action has a reaction and every action has a consequence. I can guarantee that Kiki Sullivan is now and forever more on my “Auto-Buy Author List” and I’ll read anything she writes. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go stalk Goodreads, Kiki’s website and the Epic Reads website for a release date for the sequel…