The Doll Funeral
My name is Ruby. I live with Barbara and Mick. They're not my real parents, but they tell me what to do, and what to say. I'm supposed to say that the bruises on my arms and the black eye came from falling down the stairs.
But there are things I won't say. I won't tell them I'm going to hunt for my real parents. I don't say a word about Shadow, who sits on the stairs, or the Wasp Lady I saw on the way to bed. I did tell Mick that I saw the woman in the buttercup dress, hanging upside down from her seat belt deep in the forest at the back of our house. I told him I saw death crawl out of her. He said he'd give me a medal for lying. I wasn't lying.
I'm a hunter for lost souls and I'm going to be with my real family. And I'm not going to let Mick stop me.
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There is a magical, dream-like quality to Kate Hamer's second novel. [...] The Doll Funeral is the story of a separated mother and daughter, and the last line is heart-stoppingly beautiful.Alice O'Keefe
Kate Hamer's writing is unique and beautiful. The Doll Funeral is a haunting, mesmerising read.Rosamund Lupton
It’s a testament to Hamer’s skill as a writer that it doesn’t feel issue-led. Her fascination with the thresholds between childhood and adulthood, sanity and insanity, chosen and blood families, and her subtle understanding of the clean, often disturbing logic of childhood morality, evoke both Jeanette Winterson and Ian McEwan.
The originality of the voice and the novel’s moving mysteriousness, along with the empathy Hamer builds in the reader towards her scrappy, stubborn heroine are ample compensations. This is an elegiac and uplifting novel about the indissoluble bonds between mothers and daughters and a reminder of how the imagination can set you free.
There is a dark, supernatural, fairytale quality to the novel. Throughout, Hamer writes with great skill and emotional depth – about the confusions of adolescence and identity, the bond between mothers and daughters and the redemptive power of love, wherever we may find it.
A compelling successor to her debut. . . Hamer dives deep into these liminal spaces, luring us into a twilight zone where time bends and stretches in unpredictable ways and where reality loses its concreteness.
The darker elements of the fairytale genre are amplified into a macabre, off-kilter world. Hamer’s prose is full of precise, startling imagery. The physical presence and changing moods of the forest are beautifully evoked . . . What holds the novel together is the tremendous momentum of the story itself, which gathers pace with every page, hooking you into its strangeness and keeping you hooked to the very last word. As an exploration of the hold exerted on us by the past, The Doll Funeral is entirely successful.
The Doll Funeral has been one of the most interesting reading experiences I’ve had in a while: a book that, like the ghosts within, stays with you long after its finished.
Hamer’s ability to conjure an atmosphere is certainly powerful. Particularly resonant is her portrait of the beauty and menace of the Forest of Dean, where Ruby and her dead souls often meet.
It is so different and strange that it’s like no book you will have read.
Hamer has created a mystical world in which characters are haunted by specters of their present as well as their past, by the living and the lost. Her diction is lovely and tangible . . . a powerful paranormal novel.
This piercingly sad, engrossing novel is a modern fairy tale . . . there isn't a single parent/child relationship that works. Yet despite the grief all of this entails, Hamer's novel reminds the reader that family does not necessarily mean blood, and love and connection are possible.BookPage
Kate Hamer's voice is like no other... it doesn't feel like there's anyone else quite like her writing at the moment