4 stars out of 5
I picked up The Fifth Doll thinking of The Paper Magician Series. Charlie N. Holmberg had written really good magic worlds before and I was not disappointed. I was surprised at how much darker this story got, however. It is an adventure story amidst mystery and expectations.
The Truth of Who You Are
The story begins with general life problems for Matrona. Such as how to make an arranged marriage work while letting go of deeper feelings. But curiosity leads to an encounter with magic and Matrona is forced into a position of personal growth. There are five layers in a matryoshka doll and they reveal personal truths that Matrona must face or lose herself to. I enjoy this idea of discovering oneself and connect with how hard it can be. But you always come out stronger in the end.
The final truth, however, has less to do with Matrona and more to do with magic and greed of another. Matrona finds out her home is not what she thought it was. And it is actually something much darker. While this ending fulfills the promises made earlier in the story, I do not appreciate the depressing discovering. I felt it cut things off too suddenly. We do all this fighting and personal growth just to discover an entirely new problem but don’t get to see how that problem is resolved. As far as I know, this is a solo book, but it feels like the ending was purposely left wanting for an additional story.
Maybe I’m just sad that I don’t get to read more about Matrona. You’ll have to read it for yourself so that you can argue with me.
You can find The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg on Amazon or search for her other stories.