'The Dolls' by Kiki Sullivan
Review by Christopher Moore
Summary (from Amazon):
When 17-year-old Eveny returns to the tiny Louisiana town where she was born, she discovers she is the powerful missing link in a trio of voodoo queens who have everyone under their spell. But they need her help. Because darkness is descending on Carrefour and even the Dolls' combined powers may not be enough to stop the killer in their midst.
1. Bland Characterisation
The most irritating thing about this book is the characters. They’re vapid caricatures with no distinguishing features. We’re introduced to Glory at the beginning of the story; the only character with a morsel of personality but what does the author do? Kill her off. Cheers for that.
Drew mentions that Pascal Auteuil looks like a model which prompted me to wonder, “wait, is Drew gay?” Spoiler: he’s not. Caleb “guns the engine” every time he leaves Eveny. He “half smiles” all the time (is only half of his jaw functional?). Electricity crackles between Eveny and Caleb. It always feels like “an eternity” between them. WARNING: You may need to brace yourself for possibly one of the most cringe descriptions in YA literature. Caleb has “ripped biceps, taut abs and caramel skin [that] sparkles with moonlight perspiration.”
The story is set near New Orleans, Louisiana, in a gated community known as Carrefour. It’s impossible to grasp any of the scenic details because the descriptions take us so out of the moment with lengthy descriptions that are difficult to absorb and pretty unmemorable. It does nothing for the story either. There’s no real evidence of any of the characters having Southern roots; no genuine attempt to infuse character with Southern accents or marry the characters with their culture.
3. Weird Descriptions
The basic physical descriptions irked me but what really sent me above and beyond boiling point was that everyone was beautiful and they all had caramel-coloured skin. Seriously? Are they clones? Caleb as the forbidden bad boy stereotype is predictable (are as his “half smiles”) and the clothes and character descriptions are formulaic and unimaginative.
4. The Hero
Eveny Cheval is the protagonist but she’s a web of mass contradictions. The same girl that detests the wealth of Chloe and Peregrine, who grew up with a fairly modest childhood, knows all about designer clothes? What? It’s not even the fact that she knows about Louboutins that bothers me; it’s more that the reader is being told that she’s an outsider and a bit of an outcast but she’s exactly like the Dolls. She predictably falls for Caleb, saying that he’s “insanely gorgeous”. She actually tells Caleb that he’s “sexy and intriguing”. Cringe. It's so difficult to feel anything for her.
5. The Dolls’ World
The magic was a bit lacking. The spells read like weak attempts at a Poetry 101 assignment. Furthermore, 75% of the story focuses on the ordinary. The story is less, one of magic, intrigue and murder, and more a narrative of high school drama.
Eveny and the Dolls repeat the same stock phrases:
It comes across a bit Mills and Boon at times.
- The almost kiss
- The “Hey, girl” girl
- The forbidden romance
- The beautiful, bad boy (with “caramel” skin)
- Forbidden love
- The outcast hero