Among the Dolls

Among the Dolls - William Sleator, Trina Schart Hyman

I read this so many times growing up. 'Among the Dolls' is a Prince among the dolls come alive and ruin your life books, of which there are more than a few. What surprised me about reading this now was how short 'Among the Dolls' is. This book looms large in my memories, and I was an even more voracious reader back then. For 65 pages to have so much resonance is a testament to Sleator's abilities.

Vicky is given a Victorian dollhouse by her parents instead of a sweet ten-speed and takes some of that aggression out on her play with them. In the beginning she doesn't come off as troubled girl, but when her parents start to fight she continues to escalate the violence of the doll family. One day she wakes up in a strange yet familiar room, but she's no longer the one in control.

The beginning of the book could have used some more fleshing out, Vicky's motives seem to go beyond the disappointment of not having a bike, but without more to go on she comes off as selfish. Once the action moves to within the doll house, however, the book is delightfully disturbing. The doll house is a treasure and, sure, I wasn't your typical kid, but I would have given up my bike for a doll house like this one any day. To the adult reader the story may come apart at the seams, but the description and character of the individual dolls - especially the mother - more than make up for it.