Find your next favorite book

Become a member today and read free for 30 days
UnavailableThe Doll-Master: And Other Tales of Terror
Currently unavailable on Scribd

The Doll-Master: And Other Tales of Terror

Continue browsing

Currently unavailable on Scribd

The Doll-Master: And Other Tales of Terror

ratings:
4/5 (13 ratings)
Length:
311 pages
5 hours
Released:
May 3, 2016
ISBN:
9780802189936
Format:
Book

Description

This Bram Stoker Award–winning collection is “certain to stick in your mind long after you’ve turned the last page” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
 
Includes “Big Momma,” a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Short Story
 
Here are six of Joyce Carol Oates’s most “frightening—and deeply disturbing—short stories” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). In the titular story, a boy becomes obsessed with his cousin’s doll after her tragic death. As he grows older, he begins to collect “found dolls” from surrounding neighborhoods . . . each with its own sinister significance.
 
In “Gun Accident,” a teenage girl is delighted to house-sit for her favorite teacher, until an intruder forces his way inside—changing more than one life forever. The collection closes with the taut tale of a mystery bookstore owner whose designs on a rare bookshop in scenic New Hampshire devolve into a menacing game with real-life consequences. “At the heart of each story is a predator-prey relationship, and what makes them so terrifying is that most of us can easily picture ourselves as the prey, at least at some time during our lives” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune).
 
“Everything she writes, in whatever genre, has an air of dread, because she deals in vulnerabilities and inevitabilities, in the desperate needs that drive people . . . to their fates. A sense of helplessness is the essence of horror, and Oates conveys that feeling as well as any writer around.” —Terrence Rafferty, The New York Times Book Review
 
“One of the stranger parts of the human condition may be our deep fascination, and at times troubling exploration, of the darker aspects of our nature . . . No other author explores the ugly, and at times, blazingly unapologetic underbelly of these impulses quite like Joyce Carol Oates in The Doll-Master.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
 
“In her new collection . . . [Oates] relishes moments of gothic melodrama, while rooting them firmly in grindingly ordinary American lives.” —The Guardian
 
“Oates convincingly demonstrates her mastery of the macabre with this superlative story collection . . . This devil’s half-dozen of dread and suspense is a must read.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
Released:
May 3, 2016
ISBN:
9780802189936
Format:
Book

About the author

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of over seventy books encompassing novels, poetry, criticism, story collections, plays, and essays. Her novel Them won the National Book Award in Fiction in 1970. Oates has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters for more than three decades and currently holds the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professorship at Princeton University.   

Related to The Doll-Master

Read More From Joyce Carol Oates
Related Books
Related Articles

Reviews

What people think about The Doll-Master

4.2
13 ratings / 10 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    It wasn't the type of "terror" that I am accustomed to reading but it was still intriguing enough to satisfy this terror fan. The terror was so subtle that it gave you the chance to imagine what the characters were going through. The images that are built in the reader's own mind can sometimes be more frightening than any other kind. Overall it is a pretty good short story collection of bizarre and sinister tales.
  • (4/5)
    **** The Doll-Master
    (Previously read in "The Doll Collection." Re-read.)
    While, in general, I don't think that there's anything wrong with little boys playing with dolls, there's certainly something quite, quite wrong with this specific boy playing with dolls.

    **** Soldier
    Powerful, disturbing story. This isn't what I expected from "Tales of Terror" but it's quite horrific. Oates brings us into the head of a man who's something of a cross between Bernie Goetz and George Zimmerman - and it's not a pleasant place to be.

    **** Gun Accident: An Investigation
    A woman thinks back on the 'gun accident' incident that traumatized her as a teenager.
    The story feels believable to the point where I would think that it was true.
    Again, the 'terror' here is the sort that people really truly have to face: mundane, banal, and perhaps all the more horrifying for it.
    The tension is masterfully raised as the details of what happened that one afternoon are revealed.

    *** Equatorial
    This piece was as masterfully written as the preceding stories - but I so hated the main character that if I knew her, I'd seriously want to kill her myself. This feeling undercut the effectiveness, for me: I feel that the author wanted us to feel equally ambivalent about both her and her husband, and I didn't.
    A middle-aged woman on a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos with her husband has become suspicious that he actually wants to kill her. Are her fears justified, or is it all paranoia that will lead her to make rash choices? The ending leaves it up to the reader to decide what might happen - with several dire possibilities on the table.

    **** Big Momma
    This one's a more traditional horror story. A lonely young girl is having a hard time adjusting to life in a new town, at a new school - until one of her classmates befriends her and brings her into her family's warm embrace. But is this a family one really wants to be embraced by?
    There have been mysterious disappearances around town - of pets, and small children...

    ***** Mystery, Inc.
    From a purely literary standpoint, this might not be the best story in this brief but excellent collection - but it was my favorite. A crime story set amongst crime stories, it's a twisty tale of malfeasance between booksellers - where the competition might get literally cut-throat.
    Although hardly 'cozy,' this is a much more 'fun' story than the others in the collection.
    In addition to the plot, what really made it for me was the vividness of the details and the clarity of the setting - you come away from this story feeling that you actually remember being in this bookstore.

    Many thanks to NetGalley and Mysterious Press for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed these very much. I particularly enjoyed the title story; I had read it somewhere before. If you are a fan of Oates, you will love these stories.
  • (5/5)
    Dark and delicious!
  • (1/5)
    If you like political propaganda from academia this author delivers.
  • (3/5)
    The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror. The problem here lies with the "Tales of Terror" part of that title, because it's a bold statement and I'm afraid these stories never did reach that level.

    Don't get me wrong-all of these tales were well written and a few of them were extremely creepy, (such as The Doll-Master and Big Momma), but for me it was always easy to see where the stories were going to end up and they were NEVER scary. (I guess a lot of my problem with this collection is with the title. My expectations were raised; I was ready and excited to be terrorized, and instead I didn't even get any goosebumps. I cannot hide my disappointment.)

    Again, this book was well written, hence my 3 star rating, but I can't heartily recommend it to experienced fans of horror and dark fiction. If you're just starting out in the genre and want to dip your toes into the dark water, this would be an okay place to start. Afterwards you can check out the short fiction of King or McCammon, or the old masters like E.A. Poe or Arthur Machen and then you too, will see what I'm talking about. Terror is not a word to be tossed around lightly and I'm sad to say that's what happened here.

    *Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for the free e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

  • (5/5)
    Excellent, beautifully written collection of short stories. I enjoyed each and every one of these stories and found them to be disturbing, chilling, suspenseful and thought provoking and sometimes even sad.My favorite of the six, though it was hard to choose a favorite, was “Mystery, Inc.”, which every mystery book lover will devour like candy (pun not intended for those who have read the story). I felt like I was reading an Edgar Allan Poe story that I had somehow missed over the years. As for the title story, “The Doll-Master”, I’ve always found dolls to be a bit eerie. I remember as a child sitting with all my dolls having a tea party when I realized they were all staring at me with those big blank eyes and I’d get frightened and have to leave the room. This doll story by Ms. Oates was quite different from what I had expected. “Equatorial”, “Gun Accident” and “Big Momma” all kept me on the edge of my seat with suspense. “Soldier” is a most timely story.These stories are proof that there is no need for excessive gore and over-the-top fantasy to write a great horror story. I’ve read reviews that these aren’t horror stories but I’m sure if you encountered any of these happenings in your normal day, they would certainly register as total horror. Joyce Carol Oates proves again that she is a master at quietly finding the dark areas in every-day lives.Whether these stories can be considered thrillers, horror or engrossing character studies, the book is highly recommended by me.This book was given to me by the publisher through NetGalley and Edelweiss in return for an honest review.
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.I really enjoyed this collection, because I do love horror and I think JCO does horror in the truest sense of the word. She induces loathing, repulsion and horror in her readers and doesn’t use supernatural monsters to do so. The demons and monsters in this collection are all human, but perhaps more frightening for being so. The situations she describes are situations that any of might stubble upon or find ourselves in. What woman hasn’t been yelled at on the street? What minority group member hasn’t been the target of a puffed up little man looking to prove something to themselves, to their friends, to their angry puffed up little fathers who themselves had all their empathy and compassion beaten out of them? What bullied, tormented child hasn’t dreamed of finding people who understand them? What neglected, jealous wife hasn’t dreamed of her husband falling back in love with her again?If there is a theme in this collection, it is the stories that we tell ourselves so we can live with what we’ve done, and the stories we tell others so we can maintain the fiction of who we really are. JCO revels in the chasms that exists between these stories and reality. That’s where you find the most cruelty, deception and desperation; the driving forces for the protagonists in these stories. The standout stories were Equatorial and Mystery, Inc. Equatorial was told from the perspective of the third wife of a dashing academic on a luxury cruise to explore the Galapagos Islands. The wife has become convinced that her husband’s pattern of taking a younger mistress while still married and then discarding the older wife to wed the mistress is about to repeat itself. Her fears become immersed in and indistinguishable from the prehistoric environment of the Galapagos, with the Darwinian kill-or-be-killed tone of life in this harsh land throwing her predicament into sharp relief. The writing was absolutely masterful; as we only ever see situations through the wife’s eyes, we can never be quite sure of the truth of the matter. The husbands’ obvious gaslighting and emotional abuse has made our narrator doubt herself and so we too doubt her and our own interpretation of events. The setting was so unique, I would read a novel length book about these characters.Mystery, Inc. was just a fantastically entertaining story about rival mystery book sellers, told in the style of a mystery itself, complete with poisoned chocolates and disguises. The narrator thinks himself devilishly clever, yet is unable to see the plainly telegraphed plot developments being told through Neuhaus’s story. While many of the stories in this collection have unresolved or ambiguous endings, the ending of this story was delicious and so satisfying.If you love short stories, gorgeous writing and horror that actually says something about humanity and the human psyche, I would highly recommend.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror is the latest collection of short stories from Joyce Carol Oates. As the book's title indicates, these six stories are about “terror,” but this is terror in a very real sense, not the kind that is sometimes associated in the minds of readers with books shelved in the “horror” section of their favorite bookstores. These are stories about people in fear of their lives, sometimes told through the eyes of the potential murderer and sometimes through the eyes of those in danger. Sometimes the terror is real, at other times it seems to be more imagined than not by the potential victim, and sometimes it is difficult to tell what is real and what is not. Victims are dispatched by gunshot, strangulation, poisons, and in the book's strangest tale of all, in a way that makes victims from all the other stories appear to be the lucky ones.The young man at the center of the book's title story became a doll collector almost by accident when, as a small child, he stole his recently deceased cousin's doll as a way to comfort himself after her sudden disappearance from his life. Now a young man still living at home with his mother, he adds “found” dolls to his collection every year or so, but keeps his collection hidden away where no one will ever see it but him. The doll collector has become a doll master.The Doll Master includes two stories in which handguns play prominent roles. In the first, “Soldier,” a young white man is accused of having shot to death the defenseless young black teen he accuses of placing him in fear of his life. Destined to be the most controversial story in the collection, this one is told from the point-of-view of the shooter, and deals with the role that racial differences play in perceptions of physical threat. “Gun Accident,” again told from the shooter's point-of-view, offers another lesson in what can happen when a gun gets into the hands of someone emotionally unprepared to handle it. This time that person is a young high school girl entrusted with housesitting her favorite teacher's house for a few days. “Big Moma” is about an eighth-grade girl badly in need of a friend. When she finally finds that friend, she gains a whole new family, not just the school friend she had been longing for. Now she senses that something is wrong, and the question is whether or not she has the strength to break free from the family's influence– and will they let her? “Equatorial” and “Mystery, Inc.” both largely take place in the minds of their narrators, one of whom imagines herself to be the potential victim of her husband's murderous intentions, and the other a man who has very specifically targeted his next murder victim. Both stories are well plotted and are based on memorable characters and situations. But for one simple reason, “Mystery, Inc.” is my favorite story in the collection and “Equatorial” is my least favorite. I find it difficult to enjoy stories that use the all too common literary device of building tension to climactic levels only to end abruptly before that tension is resolved – exactly the way that “Equatorial” ends. I don't like writing my own short story endings. “Mystery, Inc.,” a verbal sparring match between two very different bookstore owners, on the other hand, painstakingly builds the tension level to a climax and proceeds to deliver the perfect ending.The stories in The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror are a bit uneven, and are sometimes predictable, but there is a lot to like about the collection. Joyce Carol Oates fans and fans of macabre short stories will want to take a look at this one.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    These stories could probably be more accurately described as "thrillers," although some individuals may find them terrifying. I found them enjoyable and intriguing. Each story is unique, and involves some twisted thinking in one form or another - where the reader can clearly see that something is wrong and keeps reading to see if the problem explodes in one way or another. Reality is precariously balanced at many times. I found myself occasionally asking, "how could the character think that?" but the author does a great job of making the insanity believable. This would be a great Halloween read.Note: I was given a free ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    1 person found this helpful