“Held captive for eight years, Lily has grown from a teenager to an adult in a small basement prison. Her daughter Sky has been a captive her whole life. But one day their captor leaves the deadbolt unlocked.
This is what happens next…
…to her twin sister, to her mother, to her daughter…and to her captor.”
Lily is only a teenager when a man in a trusted and well-respected position kidnaps her, and holds her captive for nearly a decade. This story picks up however not when she is kidnapped, but on the day her captor accidentally leaves the door to her prison unlocked, and Lily along with her six year-old daughter Sky manage to escape. The story then concentrates on how things are with her integrating back into society, and with her family including her twin sister. A lot has happened in the years she was hidden away. The stress of her disappearance has killed her father and her twin sister Abby has been deeply damaged mentally, but Lily is alive and here, and determined to see justice done. With the focus of the story not just being on Lily, but on all those around her who have had a whole chunk of their life stolen too, it highlights how Lily was not the only victim of this abhorrent crime.
The reader knows that Lily has been physically, sexually and mentally abused during her time in captivity, however the author only alludes to this, sparing the reader of any unnecessary graphic details. It is still highly upsetting in parts, especially as we know that she has conceived and given birth to her daughter Sky in this time, who has never been outside the dungeon where they were held. Sky clearly loves her biological father, as she doesn’t know anything else, and despite the abuse I think Lily was experiencing conflicting emotions regarding her captor, almost a slight Stockholm Syndrome, which she struggles to deal with.
This story is strikingly similar to Room by Emma Donoghue, which I read around this time last year, however on the flip side there are drastic differences, the most obvious being in that Baby Doll is much darker and grittier than Room, and focuses more on retribution.
Baby Doll is a fast paced and intense story that once I started I found I could not put down and that momentum continued throughout. The story is extremely upsetting in parts, but the author does a great job of conveying an emotional family drama as each character tries to come to terms with what has happened. There are no massive twists (OK, maybe one bit I wasn’t expecting) but this isn’t one of these books that you need a surprise every few chapters to keep you entertained, the sheer heartbreak and horror of this story will keep you hooked.
The story is told from various points of view, my favourite being of the captor, giving an insight into his depraved, delusional, warped mind, and I would have liked to have seen more from him, perhaps a little back story on what made him the monster he is today. I also found the chapters told from the captor’s wife Eve compelling. Deep down behind her perfect, shiny and polished marriage she knew something was deeply wrong, yet she did nothing. I guess that’s how men like these get away with these sort of crimes for so long.
Overall rating four fabulous stars, I’m definitely on the look out for more from this author. Thanks to Hollie Overton, Random House UK, and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy.