Thursday, November 12, 2020

Book Review: Paper Dolls (Dark Carousel #2) by Anya Allyn

Title: Paper Dolls
Series: Dark Carousel #2
Author: Anya Allyn
Publication Date: January 21st 2017
Print Length: 264 pages
Genre: Young Adult Supernatural Horror
Once you've ventured into the underground dollhouse, the spirits there will never release you.

Cassie, Ethan and Lacey sought their missing friend, Aisha, in the deep of the forest. After being captured by the deadly trap of the dollhouse, Cassie finally fought her way to the surface. But she's beginning to question if any of them were truly rescued.

Back in 1920, a clairvoyant tells 14-year-old circus performer, Sparrow, that she is soon to die an unnatural death. With her grandfather spending the last of his circus fortunes on dark magic and with Mr. Baldcott chasing her for marriage, Sparrow doesn't know who to turn to. Then a circus train derailment in Copper Canyon that kills most of the people on board changes everything. Someone has blown up the tracks, someone who wanted desperately to get hold of the Book of the Mirrored Tree that Sparrow's grandfather was transporting.

In present day, Cassie travels to Copper Canyon to try to find the Book of the Mirrored Tree. Too late she discovers a chilling, devastating betrayal.

I really loved Dollhouse, the first book in the Dark Carousel series by Anya Allyn. (You can read my review for Dollhouse by clicking here.) I couldn't wait to dive into the next book in the series, Paper Dolls. I wanted to love Paper Dolls as much as Dollhouse, but it just wasn't as great.

Paper Dolls takes place right after Dollhouse although Paper Dolls also goes back to 1920 to focus more on Jessamine's back story and to thicken the modern day plot. While I loved Jessamine's story, Cassie's narrative is a bit lackluster. The pacing for Cassie's plot feels very slow moving. While there were a few plot twists regarding Cassie's story, one of the main plot twists was the most predictable from early on. Don't get me wrong, Allyn's writing is fantastic, but Cassie's plotline just didn't wow me as before. Jessamine's, on the other hand, was fantastic! I loved learning more about Jessamine and how she become like she was in Dollhouse. Jessamine's narrative moved at a great pace, and I would get so excited when her chapters would come up. I also loved how Jessamine's chapters involved more backstory for Henry and Audette and explains how they became ghosts. It also talks more about the mysterious Donovan Fiveash. Many of the other characters, even characters with small parts, from Dollhouse are mentioned again in Paper Dolls. We get a bit more of their back story as well which was nice. There is a big cliffhanger (major bombshell) at the end of this book which will lead into the next book in the series, Marionette. Although this book is intended for young adults, I would say it's more aimed towards a mature young adult audience as it's a lot more dark compared to Dollhouse.

As with the first book in the series, Anya Allyn did a fantastic job keeping her characters easy to relate to. Even though I found Cassie's story a little boring, I still enjoyed Cassie's character. I did find her a bit naïve in this book, but she is a teenager, so I could understand why she'd trust the first boy that showed her attention. I felt like I was Cassie's babysitter and was mentally urging her not to trust anyone! Jessamine was my obviously my favorite character. I just wanted to hug her as she had such a sad life for the most part. After reading her story, I understood why she was the way she was in Dollhouse. I really wanted to protect Jessamine throughout the whole book especially when she was still alive although I already knew she'd end up as a ghost. Henry was a character I didn't think I'd end up liking since he seemed like a bad guy in the first book. However, the audience is shown a whole different side of Henry in Paper Dolls. I just wanted Audette to disappear though. Not because she was written poorly but just because how vile and horrible she was to Jessamine. Although they were nice, I had a hard time trusting the Batiste family. They just seemed a little too nice for my liking.

Trigger warnings for Paper Dolls include death, murder, attempted rape, violence, occult activity, and mentions of sex (though not graphic).

Despite being a bit of a slow read, I still enjoyed Paper Dolls. Learning more about many of the ghosts' backstory was extremely interesting, and I loved all the characters. I would recommend Paper Dolls by Anya Allyn to those aged 16+ who love supernatural horror. I have already started reading Marionette, the next book in the Dark Carousel series, since I'm loving this series!
(You can read my book review for Marionette, the third book in the Dark Carousel series, by clicking here.)

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