Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all well. Today I’m going to be posting my review of Hollie Overton’s exceptional novel, ‘Baby Doll.’ I loved this book so much, and it’s now going to be living on my “favourites” bookshelf. To find out exactly why I loved it so much, keep reading…
You’ve been held captive in one room.
You’ve been mentally and physically abused every day since you were sixteen years old.
Then, one night, you realise your captor has left the door to your cell unlocked.
For the first time in eight years you’re free.
This is what happens next.
**TRIGGER WARNING** Non-graphic references to abuse (emotional, physical and sexual), mental illness (including self-harm) and various substance abuse.
Hollie Overton is a TV writer and producer, and ‘Baby Doll’ (released on 30th June 2016) is her debut novel. Her second novel, ‘The Walls’, is due to be released on 10th August 2017. She has written for shows on ABC Family, CBS and Lifetime such as ‘Shadowhunters,’ ‘Cold Case,’ and ‘The Client List.’ Overton’s father was a member of the notorious Texas Overton gang, and spent several years in prison for manslaughter. ‘Baby Doll’ draws on many of her own childhood experiences, and Overton is an identical twin herself.
‘Baby Doll’ was a Sunday Times Bestseller and a Richard & Judy Book Club pick. It has received brilliant reviews, for example Daily Express: “A compelling psychological thriller,” Stylist: “Moves at breakneck speed…a really good read,” and Woman’s Own: “Riveting from the first line.” Author Tess Gerritsen also loved the novel, stating “What a compulsive read! A brilliant first novel that kept me transfixed and entertained until the very last page.”
‘Baby Doll’ tells the heartbreaking and astonishing story of Lily Riser and her daughter Sky, who have been held captive by the evil Rick Hanson for 8 years. One night, Rick Hanson leaves the door to their cell unlocked, and they manage to escape. This novel details their gradual integration back into society, exploring all the ups and downs as they struggle to adjust to “normal” life.
Apart from Rick of course, there’s no character that I disliked in the book. All of the characters, including those outside who have been awaiting Lily’s return, suffer greatly in their own ways, and this novel explores just how many people an atrocity like this affects. The story is told from the perspectives of Lily (the victim of the kidnapping), Rick (the captor), Abby (Lily’s twin sister) and Eve (Lily and Abby’s mother), and the reader is given an insight into each individual’s suffering.
Lily was taken by Rick at just 16 years old, and has been disgustingly abused, both mentally and physically, for 8 years. She’s an extraordinary character, and shows incredible bravery and courage throughout the novel – she’s a true role model. Rick is evil and twisted, and I cannot put into words how it made me feel to read about the suffering he inflicts upon Lily. Abby and Lily, as twin sisters, were extremely close, and Lily’s disappearance has a detrimental impact on Abby’s mental health. And Eve copes with her loss in different ways, as she turns to extremes for comfort.
**TRIGGER WARNING** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) This novel contains scenes of extreme aggressive behaviour, such as physical and emotional abuse, and contains references to acts of sexual assault and rape. It also explores the themes of mental illness, substance abuse and some references to self-harm. Whilst these scenes are not explicit or vivid in detail, these issues are all addressed to some extent, and if you feel that any of these issues may be triggering for you, I would suggest you skip this book.
The book has some similarities to Emma Donoghue’s ‘Room,’ but still is, in my opinion, a very different story. Overton expertly and delicately addresses many issues in terms of Lily’s integration back into society. She and her family must learn to come to terms with the abuse that she suffered, and attempt to move forwards and be a “normal” family unit again. The book brought to light many issues that I wasn’t aware of, and this was extremely eye-opening and thought-provoking. As the narrative motors forwards, the characters all work together and attempt to achieve justice against Rick, but the case is not as simple as it may first seem.
All of the novel captivated me greatly, but one of the sub-plots I really enjoyed and wanted to mention is the exploitation of the media. It was extremely interesting, and also frustrating, to read about how Lily becomes less of a victim and more of a problem in the eyes of the media, and she is subject to very harsh judgements by those around her. People find it hard to believe that a seemingly-innocent character such as Rick Hanson would be capable of such sickening acts, and that really got me thinking about the state of the media in our current society.
So, let’s talk about the ending. It’s heart-warming and joyous, and the reader is provoked to feel a sense of hope for Lily and her family moving forwards. Throughout all of the hardships she has suffered, Lily’s strength never fails to shine through, and this is especially true of the ending. Lily truly deserves happiness and love, and it’s so inspiring to read about all she has managed to achieve so far. I really felt so much sympathy and had genuine affection for Lily – almost as if she was a real person!
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to all of you out there! It’s a very difficult read but a very important one, as I feel like sometimes we need to read and learn about atrocities and hardships in order to become better people. I was absolutely hooked whilst reading this, and I read it in just two sittings (which I haven’t done for a long time). It will break your heart and make you rage, whilst promoting feelings of love, kindness and affection too. This book is going straight on my “favourites” shelf and I really cannot recommend it enough!
Happy reading 🙂