“This book is not for the faint of heart. It's deliciously dark and gruesome.” –Where the Reader Grows
Olivia is excited for university. She will be on her own, in a new place hopeful to meet new friends.
On the night she moves in, she is taken off the street by two masked men. She is placed in a room which is little more than a cell. A pink cell. A room made for a doll. She is now part of their collection.
|Publisher:||Black Rose Writing|
|Edition description:||First Printing ed.|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.47(d)|
Read an Excerpt
By John Hunt
Black Rose WritingCopyright © 2017 John Hunt
All rights reserved.
"Is Dale okay with the break up?"
Olivia sipped her coffee, licked away the foam moustache and said, "I guess. He didn't pitch a fit or anything. How could he be okay with it? We'd been together for a while. I don't like it, but it's the right thing to do, you know?"
Harry nodded, turning the coffee cup on the table with his fingers. They sat in Starbucks with light music playing in the background, people moving and the rich smell of coffee and chocolate thick enough to touch. They placed themselves by the window because he wanted to keep an eye on his car, amazed how much of Olivia's stuff they had crammed in his Prius. After loading it, he had to lean on the hatch with all his body weight to get it closed. They had stuffed it with all the things she would need for school and items she probably wouldn't need. Olivia was starting university on Monday. It hurt to let her go, a hand squeezing his heart. He didn't like it. But, like she said, even if you don't like it, you should do the right thing. He thought that's what she said. Maybe he paraphrased her a little. Even though he felt the pending empty nest, he couldn't deny the tingle of excitement for her. It was a good time in her life, to leave home for the first time and travel into the unknown. Like going on an adventure with no treasure map to guide the way, armed with good judgement and moral character. It had been his job to equip her with those attributes and he believed he had done well enough. Exceptional young woman. Isn't that what all dads thought of their children? Maybe yes, maybe no.
Harry scanned the coffee shop noting MacBooks, tablets, headphones and ebooks. People isolating themselves in public with electronics. Might as well have stayed home if all they wanted to do was drink coffee and browse the internet. Jeez, he realized he was getting old. It happened quick. One day you woke up, looked around and started saying things like, "It was better back then," or, "Music nowadays is just noise," and when the words leave your lips, you're stunned, thinking, man, when did this old guy appear?
"You okay, daddy?"
"You were frowning and staring off into space. That thing you do when you're brooding."
"Brooding? I don't brood. I'm more of a pensive person. Brooding sounds negative."
"Brooding is negative. And you look it, when you frown like that."
She was concerned and he knew she had reservations about leaving home as well. It had been the two of them for so long. She could stay at home and go to a local college and maybe not even have to break up with Dale. Everything stays the same. She would do it more for him than herself. And because he knew this and wanted to be a good dad even if he lost a part of his heart when she left, he smiled and said, "I'm just excited for you. This is going to be good for you."
"Yeah, but is it going to good for you?"
"Of course it is. This is natural. Kids grow up, kids leave home. It's the way things are supposed to go. And I'm glad you turned out the way you did. I'm stunned, actually, with all my bumbling."
"You were great, dad. I couldn't have asked for better."
"Me either, kiddo."
She sipped her coffee and with his words, some tension eased from her shoulders. She smiled and put a hand over his.
He grinned and shook his head.
"Remember when I tried to tell you about-" he glanced around the coffee shop and when certain no one was paying them any attention, he whispered, "your period?"
Olivia chuckled and then groaned, "Oh my, that was a disaster. You started sweating and stuttering. Like the time you tried to explain the birds and the bees. I mean, who even says that anymore?"
He said, "I wanted to puke. My stomach flipped around on me and I thought I was going to heave when I took the tampon out of the wrapper and tried to show you where it went. Remember that? Holy Christ on a popsicle stick I sucked."
He sipped on his drink, his face a bright red, a rueful smile dressing his face.
Olivia, laughing at him, drew a chuckle from him. The camaraderie of comedy.
"You didn't suck. You just didn't have a vagina."
"Jeez. Keep it down would ya?"
"You did it all alone, dad. I think you did a terrific job, cause I am pretty awesome." She grinned, amusement a dancing jewel in her eye.
Beautiful, like her mother. He thanked a God he didn't believe in she didn't take after him. He wasn't ugly but he wasn't good looking either. The crown of his head decided to start pushing the hair out too early in his opinion. He fussed over it this morning, taking care to comb his hair over the growing pink crown without looking like he was trying to cover it which everyone, including him, knew was impossible. He lost the hair on the top of his head where he wanted it and instead it sprouted out of his ears where he didn't want it. What is the evolutionary purpose of growing hair in your ears as you aged? Harry liked that Olivia had been spared any resemblance to him. You always want the best for your children and a daughter with his looks? That would've been less than ideal.
Her mother, Samantha, had been stunning. She was just not interested in being a mother. Or maybe she didn't want to be involved with him. The result was the same either way. After Olivia had been born, she left her with him, said she never wanted a child and left town. She hadn't been heard or seen from again. He got a beautiful daughter out of it, from a one night stand with a woman who had been way out of his league.
He remembered the night he had met her. Flabbergasted would have been an understatement to his reaction when she bought him a drink. They moved from the bar to a booth and spoke for most of the night. She laughed at his jokes, reached to touch him with her fingers, punctuating her words with manicured nails. She smelled like strawberries. Not her perfume, her skin. Like goddamn strawberries.
He hadn't expected marriage. He knew he had been a drunk decision of regret on her part. Still, to just leave and never want to be involved with their wonderful daughter? Harry couldn't fathom it. Hard thing to explain when Olivia got old enough to ask where was her mother and why did she leave. A part of him wondered if she sometimes wished her mother would come back and take her away from her awkward father. Maybe she dreamed about it late at night, staring at the glow-in-the-dark stars he had pasted to her ceiling.
"Yeah. You are marginally awesome."
"Yes. After strong reflection, I believe your awesomeness is marginal at this point. After university, I'm sure your stock will rise, but it depends."
"Oh yeah, depends on what?"
"On how often you call and visit your father."
"Well, I thought I'd stop by for Christmas, to get presents of course. Oh, and if I run out of money, I may come home. You know, only if I need something."
Harry clutched his chest, "My heart! You've broken it! But I will accept those terms."
Olivia laughed, "C'mon dad. I'll call and visit as much as I can. I'm not even gone yet and I already miss you. I'm going to miss this."
"Yeah. This. Moments like this."
"It is a pretty good one. And because I raised you to be awesome, I think you're going to have a great time."
"Thanks dad. I think I will too."
"Don't get pregnant."
"Stay away from crystal meth and boys named Andy."
"Shifty little bastards, boys' named Andy."
She laughed and said, "You're so random!"
"Hey!" Feigning offence he said, "These are pearls of parental wisdom. You should treat them as such. Andy and crystal meth? Terrible."
She raised her eyebrows and after a quick glance at her watch said, "It's time to go. I gotta be on residence soon. Where's Uncle Frank? I thought he was helping us."
Such big blue eyes watching him and he remembered picking her up after the first day of kindergarten. She looked at him with the absolute trust particular to children and raised her arms to be lifted up and carried. He never thought he could love someone so much and feel the love in return. He had lifted her off the ground and walked her to the car in his arms. She had jabbered in his ear about her day and the friends she met. Harry, listening and nodding, wondered how much love can a heart hold? Limitless. His heart anyways.
Harry checked his watch and said, "Frank? He's gonna meet us there. You're right. It's time to scoot. We gotta long drive ahead of us."
"Dad. It's an hour. I'm only an hour away."
"Like I said, a long drive. Probably have to fill up twice. On the way there and on the way back."
"You drive a Prius. You won't have to fill it up until next month."
He nodded, "They do get good mileage don't they?"
She stood and he followed her out to the car.
They drove to the university of Guelph from their home town of Hamilton. They talked, comfortable with each other. Harry thought even if she wasn't his daughter, she'd be someone he'd actually like. A good person. Was it parental blindness? Could be. He didn't think so. He could tell by the way her friends greeted her and how Dale had held her in reverence that there was something about her. She was the person people glanced at when she entered a room. She was the person dogs never barked at.
He did alright, as a father. Even the teenage years weren't all that bad. They weren't that good either. A few sleepless nights wishing he had someone to talk to about it. Frank, the consummate bachelor, never had anything helpful to say. Harry had no idea how to talk to her when she came home smelling of dope, giggling at nothing particularly funny. Still, compared to some of the stories he'd heard he figured he survived the years of the teen relatively unscathed.
They arrived in the city and followed the signs posted on the Hanlon Highway to the university. Smaller than Hamilton and less industrialized, Guelph was a pretty city. Old trees, plenty of green-space, a town built around and accommodating to the university, Harry believed Olivia would be safe here. One of the safest cities in Canada according to Statistics Canada. The sprawling university grounds bloomed before them. Older red-brick buildings beside newer glass and steel ones. Long expanses of grass sprouting thick trunked trees with branches drooping from the weight of leaves. Moving-in day, the roads around the campus were clogged with inching cars packed with laundry hampers, lamps, and the detritus of student living. The roads wound around the buildings creating a daunting maze. After many glances at a glossy map in a pamphlet, they found the right building. Frank stood out front, ogling the passing girls.
"Jeez, Uncle Frank, put your eyes back in your head would you? You look like a lion at a watering hole."
"Yes, of course. Should I have worn sunglasses you think? Then, no one can see where I'm looking."
Olivia laughed and said, "You know, you're old enough to be their father."
He waved the statement off, "Nonsense. I'm younger than your dad, you know. By quite a lot. I'm more like an older cousin, handsome, witty and so much more attractive because, as a cousin, I have to be off limits. The risk of birth defects and all."
Harry said, "Alright, alright. Let's get her unloaded and then you two can carry on your conversation about how Frank is a creeper."
"Creeper? Me?" He smiled and wiggled his eyebrows.
They lugged her stuff to her room, weaving and twisting past smiling students, happy to be out from under their parents' watchful eye. Harry noticed a few male heads turn to look at his daughter and a knot of worry tightened in his guts. People put drugs in drinks. He exhaled and reminded himself he trusted Olivia. She knew more about what went on than he did. She would be fine.
After Harry placed the last box in the room, he leaned against a desk drinking a Coke. Olivia drank a Coke Zero. Frank checked his watch like he had somewhere to be.
Harry said, "You need a hand unpacking all this?"
"Alright. I'll get going then."
Frank said, "Yeah. Cool. I gotta go too. So, I'll leave you two cry babies alone to say your goodbyes." He pointed at Olivia, "I'll expect to see you on Thanksgiving young lady."
"Depends. Are you gonna bring a date? A classic Frank date."
"This should be good. What's a classic Frank date?"
"All looks, no substance."
"It hurts that I'm so transparent. But, of course. I don't date for conversation. I have you and your dad for that. The few times a year I decide to show up anyways. Well, take care. Remember, try out as many dudes as you can before settling for one."
Harry said, "Frank! C'mon man!"
He raised his hands, "It's good advice."
He scurried out the door when Harry's mouth turned into a thin line and said, "See you."
Harry jabbed a thumb at Frank's back and said, "Quite a character."
He stood and she hugged him and he squeezed her right back. Harry thought, keep it together! Don't you cry! She smelled of memories. Her first walk, her first words, her first bike ride, her first day of school, all the images popping through the hippocampus in his brain. Weird, to hold your heart in your arms and know you must let it go. He released her first. Did his eyes have a bit of shine to them? Definitely. Olivia faked not noticing very well.
"I'll be home for Thanksgiving. You'll pick me up right?"
"Absolutely. Let me know the time and I'll be here. Frank's date should be entertaining. Provided she can string some words together to form a sentence."
She rolled her eyes, "Can't wait."
"I know right? At least you know it'll be interesting."
"Frank's dates usually are."
"I'll see you then?"
"Yeah. Drive safe dad. I'll call you."
"Once a week?"
He pointed at her, "I'm holding you to that."
"Okay, okay. I'll call you twice a week and see you in a month or so."
"Damn right you will."
He walked out, proud and sad, hoping she liked it here and hoping she hated it and wanted to come home.CHAPTER 2
Harry sank into the couch with a beer in his hand and turned on the TV Five o'clock and already dark out. He shook his head. Fucking Canadian winters. He popped the top on the can and flicked through the channels, not seeing anything, just trying to find background noise. Something to dull the senses. Like drinking beer. It served to induce a stillness of thoughts. Since Olivia disappeared five years ago, or let's be real here, since she was taken, he couldn't slow his brain. The gears wouldn't slow, kept clunking along showing him images of Olivia dead in a ditch. When he thought of this, and he often did because of his stupid cruel brain, in his mind's eye it was always raining. She'd be at the bottom, her hair a golden halo fanned out on the dirty mud. Her hands would be taped in front of her. Her fingernails worn down and peeled back as though she tried to escape by scratching through a wall. The rain splashed into her open mouth and plinked into her eyes. She never flinched. She never blinked. That's how he knew she was dead.
Sometimes, he saw her body crumpled in the bottom of an old well. Arms and legs bent at unnatural angles. Bones poking through flesh, her expression a postcard of pain. Again, the rain a humming backdrop falling from the heavy grey clouds. And he'd think, I failed her. She'd been taken and he couldn't find her, he couldn't save her and he sure as hell couldn't do the one thing parents are supposed to do: protect her. Now, as soon as he got home from work, he drank until the recriminations in his brain silenced. He had a problem with the drink. He knew it. He knew the people at work knew it. When you come in the morning with red eyes and popping Advil like candy, people noticed.
Excerpted from Doll House by John Hunt. Copyright © 2017 John Hunt. Excerpted by permission of Black Rose Writing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is DISTURBING. Yes, all caps and bold font. If you have a weak stomach, it isn't for you. There were a couple of moments that made me feel a bit ill, and I'm quite used to dark tales. The author doesn't hold back, and isn't glossing anything over. The blurb for this one doesn't give much away, and I'd hate to reveal any spoilers so I'll keep my synopsis similarly brief. I will say that I was happy with the direction this one took, and it definitely added something fresh to this genre. It is hard to read at times, but the main character is incredibly likable and easy to root for. Olivia is thrilled to be off to university. Her father is having a hard time letting go, having raised her by himself... but she is a smart girl, and neither is too worried about her being off on her own. She doesn't even last the night. She's kidnapped off the street, thrown into a van by two men wearing animal masks. They deposit her not so gently into a room of her very own: small, covered in pink, with a door that is always locked. She is to be their plaything, and they'll do whatever they want with her. Welcome to hell.
The book grabs you at the beginning. This is a story about Olivia and the horrors she went through while being held captive for 5 years. Once Olivia escapes she just can't leave until she knows what is behind a few closed doors. To her surprise there are 2 other girls being held hostage in rooms that were identical to hers. This is a story about survival and one goes through after a horrific time in their lives and what a parent will go through to keep their child safe. This isn't your typical book that a few stories are going on with tons of characters. No this is a book with 1 story and a few characters to focus on which made the book very interesting. Even though there aren't a lot of characters you still aren't sure who the serial one is. Some will be shocked while others will probably figure it out. The story ends open in case the author wants to write a sequel. There are a lot questions asked and answered but there are some that are what happened. This book gets 4.5 stars.
I really enjoyed this book. It tells folks to put your cellphone down and make sure you secure your surroundings. BUT as Olivia should know, it was a tad-bit too late. She was caught and thrown in a home where the walls are pink. Very interesting why she was caught, and was she the only one? hummm, who wants to kidnap her, and why, and why is it that folks seem to want to eat folks? that there made me stop eating my hot-dog. Very good ending. I can see this book turn into a Lifetime movie.
On her first day at university Olivia is walking around to get to know her way around the campus, when two masked men grab her and take her with them in a van. They put her in a cell, a pink one that looks like a room in a doll house. A doll is exactly what they want her to be, something for the two masked men to do with whatever they please. Fighting them has consequences and they're cruel, extremely cruel. Doll House is a gripping story. There were moments when I was almost too afraid to keep reading. Olivia is a brave and clever girl. She's defiant, determined to stay alive and incredibly brave. I greatly admired her and her survival instincts were fascinating to read about. The things her abductors put her through literally made me nauseous. Doll House isn't for the faint hearted. It's very creepy and raw and John Hunt put me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. I sometimes even forgot to breathe because I was so engrossed in the story. John Hunt's writing has a nice flow, which is a stark contrast to the subject he's writing about. Doll House is about the monsters that could be real. That made the story even scarier for me. I had tears in my eyes when I read about the cruelty of the two masked men. Their actions, thoughts, worldview and fantasies made me gag. John Hunt writes about them in an amazing realistic way that makes the story easy to believe and even more horrendous. Doll House is a well written horrific story with a fantastic ending. I highly recommend this shocking story and will be sleeping with the light on from now on.
Terrifying. Horrific. Skin crawling. Heart in your mouth, reading quickly to get past the scary bits (like the need to look away) yet unable to skim read because it's just so damn good.... It's been a really, really long time since I've read anything that has scared me. This book did that; it also made me sad, angry, happy, hopeful and intrigued. Not many books can claim to take you so far - this one did for me! The story plays out very naturally and the mystery kept me guessing - I did guess the who about 3/4 through, but it didn't stop me from enjoying every word - especially as I was unsure if I was right until the end! A very, very good read that kept me up late reading - even though I wanted to hide under the covers! If you like a bit of fright in your night, this book is for you.
BEFORE.... Olivia is a college freshman, her first day of college, first day of living on her own. Her father worries, but don't all parents? Olivia never gets to even sleep in her dorm room. She is taken off the street by two men wearing masks. They take her somewhere... and put her in a pretty pink room. A room made for a doll. She has become a new member of their collection. DURING.... For five years Olivia is kept prisoner in her pink room. She is tortured, she is beat, she is raped repeatedly, she loses body parts when she fights back. Olivia's father is still grieving her loss. Nothing much seems to matter anymore. The police are no longer actively looking for her. The only thing that seems to help relieve the pain at least temporarily is alcohol .. and he is consuming more and more every night. And then one night he gets a phone call. On the other end, he hears a voice saying ...Daddy, help me .. please help me. AFTER.... Olivia has escaped. She has killed one of her abductors. She also finds 3 other girls locked in other pink rooms. It's like having PSTD ... she can't forget and she's afraid all the time. One of her captors is still out there and she's so afraid he's coming back for her. The story is told in different voices ... Olivia's, her father's, the two men who kidnapped her, and one of the other victims that she saved. WARNING : Contains massive violence, rape, torture, even cannibalism. It's very fast-paced with little let up. I was engaged from the very first to the very end. All of the characters are finely drawn and very credible. The ending was electric. Made me get up and double check the locks on the doors. Many thanks to the author / Black Rose Writing / Netgalley for the digital copy of this novel. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.