This review is written with thanks to Faber & Faber for my advance review copy of The Doll Funeral.
It is August 1983, and Ruby's thirteenth birthday. Her parents, Barbara and Mick, tell Ruby that she is adopted. Ruby is convinced that her birth parents would not have given her up willingly, and in order to escape the violence she suffers at the hands of Mick, she sets out to find them. Will Ruby find what she is looking for?
Ruby lives in the Forest of Dean, and the first thing that struck me about The Doll Funeral was the beautiful descriptions of Ruby's surroundings, particularly Hamer's use of figurative language. These gave the novel an air of mystery that truly engaged me and left me wanting to find out more. The descriptions also helped me to envisage Ruby, and despite the difference in time and age, I found it very easy to warm to her personality and relate to her, ultimately wanting her situation to work out.
There are elements of the supernatural in The Doll Funeral which are central to the plot. The reasons for this are not immediately obvious, and this made the novel feel a little disjointed when the concepts were first introduced. However, as the plot progresses, the relevance of these moments becomes clearer, and the novel as a whole falls into place. This is testament to Hamer's research skills, which have been employed brilliantly. Her research is used sparingly, so that the reader is never overwhelmed by facts, but it underpins the whole plot, so the novel comes together neatly at the end. In these sections, I particularly enjoyed the narrative of Shadow, and I found his relationship with Ruby very endearing.
The Doll Funeral is very different to the novels I would normally read, but I found it very enjoyable and had really invested in Ruby's story.
The Doll Funeral is released as an e-book on 31st January, and in hardback in February. It is available from Amazon.