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Literature / The Dollmaker

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The Dollmaker is a 2012 horror novel by Justin Robinson.

It centers around Stephen Monaghan, a genius who, unable to make a connection with a real woman, decides to make them instead: out of wood, porcelain, plastic, and glass. Each one takes a piece out of him, from his signature to his shadow and so on. The creation of life diminishes and ultimately changes the creator. The dolls: The Firstborn, the Knife, the Poem, the Sorrow, the Innocent, the Celestial, and finally the Incarnate, are all trying to find their place. Not as humans, but as something else.

Not to be confused with Harriette Arnow's 1954 novel of the same name, or its 1984 Made-for-TV Movie adaptation starring Jane Fonda.

Provides examples of:

  • Auto Erotica: Stephen and Jessica consummate their relationship in a car. It's the only time in the book he successfully has sex with a human woman.
  • Become a Real Boy: Subverted, as the dolls have no desire to become human. They want to be their own thing, whatever that might be.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The dolls see murder as permissible under certain circumstances, some of which would make sense to a normal person, others which are just odd.
  • Body Horror: So much of this. As Stephen's body changes, his body becomes like plastic and he bleeds something very much like breast milk.
  • Creating Life Is Unforeseen: Pretty much the whole point of the book.
  • Cute and Psycho: The Poem is a tiny and beautiful woman. She's also a horrifying sociopath.
  • Friendly Enemy: Brian and Stephen were best friends until the moment when Stephen put Brian on his ultimate path and refused to follow him. Their friendship continued, though it was sick from that moment on.
  • Gayngst: Emily, Stephen's sister, is a lesbian whose disastrous first relationship made her reject her sexuality. She ends up married to a man who likes watching her with other men.
  • Hellish Pupils: The Knife has decidedly odd eyes with pupils that look more like hourglasses. They're inhuman enough so that she needs sunglasses to leave the house.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The dolls do a few things that are monstrous, but the true monster is Brian.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The dolls themselves.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Brian's whole gang and their sick trophies.
  • Reincarnated as the Opposite Sex: Stephen's ultimate fate is to be reincarnated into the body of a doll, a female person, with all his flaws excised.
  • Uncanny Valley: A lot of the horror of the book comes from this. The dolls look human (to varying degrees), but they are consistently described as other, with alien thought processes and often baffling actions.