cover image The Doll Collection

The Doll Collection

Edited by Ellen Datlow. Tor, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7653-7680-0

Dolls, puppets, and other human simulacra are objects of fear and wonder in this eclectic anthology of 17 excellent original stories that Datlow (Nightmare Carnival) selected for their ability to “mine the uncanniness of dolls for all its worth.” In Stephen Gallagher’s “Heroes and Villains,” the creepy candor with which a ventriloquist’s dummy tells truths about its deceased former owner suggests that it’s not the current owner who is speaking through it. Joyce Carol Oates’s “The Doll-Master” is narrated by the title character, who gradually reveals the ghoulish nature of his “doll” collection. Datlow’s ban on clichéd “evil doll” stories encouraged contributors to explore refreshingly original ideas, including the doll hospital in Veronica Schanoes’s “The Permanent Collection,” which nods to E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic “The Sandman” while depicting a Mengele-like surgeon named Coppelius, and the strange folk tradition of Jeffrey Ford’s “The Word Doll,” in which children are compelled to escape into the world of an imaginary playmate. Accompanying photos of dolls and their parts intensify the eeriness of these works, which easily transcend their familiar theme. (Mar.)