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My name is Ruby. I live with Barbara and Mick. They’re not my real parents, but they tell me what to do, and what to say. I’m supposed to say that the bruises on my arms and the black eye came from falling down the stairs.
But there are things I won’t say. I won’t tell them I’m going to hunt for my real parents. I don’t say a word about Shadow, who sits on the stairs, or the Wasp Lady I saw on the way to bed.
I did tell Mick that I saw the woman in the buttercup dress, hanging upside down from her seat belt deep in the forest at the back of our house. I told him I saw death crawl out of her. He said he’d give me a medal for lying.
I wasn’t lying. I’m a hunter for lost souls and I’m going to be with my real family. And I’m not going to let Mick stop me.
‘Hamer writes with great skill and emotional depth - about the confusions of adolescence and identity, the bond between mothers and daughters and the redemptive power of love.’
'[Hamer’s] fascination with the thresholds between childhood and adulthood, sanity and insanity, chosen and blood families, and her subtle understanding of the clean, often disturbing logic of childhood morality, evoke both Jeanette Winterson and Ian McEwan...This is an elegiac and uplifting novel about the indissoluble bonds between mothers and daughters and a reminder of how the imagination can set you free.’
I felt instantly protective of Ruby; the teenager with a secret so chilling I had to check the front door was locked. Hamer’s brilliant storytelling made me read on for fear Ruby’s fate depended on it.
Hamer’s ability to conjure an atmosphere is certainly powerful. Particularly resonant is her portrait of the beauty and menace of the Forest of Dean.
'What holds the novel together is the tremendous momentum of the story itself, which gathers pace with every page, hooking you into its strangeness and keeping you hooked to the very last word. As an exploration of the hold exerted on us by the past, The Doll Funeral is entirely successful, and for Ruby, the call of the dead ultimately brings understanding.
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