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La muñeca asesina In a shabby London suburb, sixteen year old Pup Yearman dabbles in magic But for Pup s older sister Dolly, the magic is than dabbling Deformed by a facial birthmark, Dolly desperately wants to be cured, and her obsession with Pup s magic sends her on a dangerous downward spiral into confusion, madness, and possibly murder And meanwhile, in a squalid boardinghouse not far away, a young Irishman sharpens a set of butcher knives Spooky story Was it really a pact with the devil or something else entirely Freaky good mystery that sticks with you after reading it. Interesting to find so much dislike for this novel here, and for the very reasons so many Ruth Rendell fans LOVE her books I first read it in the late 1980s, during my early days as a Rendell reader, and have returned to it several times my current read is probably the fourth time around Along with THE BRIDESMAID and MAKE DEATH LOVE ME, I find it to be one of her strongest and most compelling novels of psychological suspense, and like them, yes, it s one of her darkest It s also one of Interesting to find so much dislike for this novel here, and for the very reasons so many Ruth Rendell fans LOVE her books I first read it in the late 1980s, during my early days as a Rendell reader, and have returned to it several times my current read is probably the fourth time around Along with THE BRIDESMAID and MAKE DEATH LOVE ME, I find it to be one of her strongest and most compelling novels of psychological suspense, and like them, yes, it s one of her darkest It s also one of her best depictions of a person s mind becoming unhinged and detached from reality, a Rendell specialty This is classic Rendell, with characters and plot moving inexorably and inevitably to a disastrous collision with destiny About 150 pages in, I thought, Where in the hell is this goingAbout 3 4 of the way through, things started to coalesce By the time I was done, I was just bored I realize that all around me people are living tiny, dull, sometimes repulsive lives, but I don t understand Ms Rendell s decision to populate this book with some of the most unpleasant people I ve ever met in the pages of a book Peter Pup and Doreen Dolly live with their parents in what was their grandparents home, a About 150 pages in, I thought, Where in the hell is this goingAbout 3 4 of the way through, things started to coalesce By the time I was done, I was just bored I realize that all around me people are living tiny, dull, sometimes repulsive lives, but I don t understand Ms Rendell s decision to populate this book with some of the most unpleasant people I ve ever met in the pages of a book Peter Pup and Doreen Dolly live with their parents in what was their grandparents home, a large but poorly maintained house in London At the outset, Pup is 15 and Dolly is around 20, still living at home and, due to the benighted attitudes of her parents, condemned never to marry or hold a job outside the home because of her disfigurement which, as far as I could discern, is simply a large facial birthmark Dolly believes that anyone who sees her is disgusted by this mark and she is correct, in some instances and mostly stays indoors, having virtually no real human contact other than her family and a few neighbors She and her mother Edith earn some income as seamstresses, making clothing and doing alterations in their home, and after view spoiler Edith s death early in the book hide spoiler Dolly continues sporadically in the trade Pup becomes fascinated with the study of the occult and appropriates use of a room in the house s unused third floor for his temple Dolly is intrigued by his studies, being herself peripherally involved in the spiritualist activities of a neighbor Over the next six years, Pup exhausts his interest in magic, except to use it as an excuse to be gone from the house in the evenings, but Dolly increasingly sees her younger brother as some sort of adept, believing that he has magical powers and can among other things bring success to their apathetic father Harold, who spends his free time with his nose buried in an endless succession of histories and historical novels, contributing virtually nothing to family life Eventually, as Dolly becomes an alcoholic andunhinged by the week, she perceives Pup s supposed magical abilities as the means to take action against anyone who threatens their insular little world especially when the neighbor s 30 something year old daughter Myra contrives to become the widowed Harold s second wife, and banishes Pup and Dolly to the third floor.Simultaneously, a mentally ill young Irishman comes to live nearby, and although his path nearly crosses with that of Dolly and Pup several times, they will not meet until the very end of the book This is one aspect of the book I particularly don t get the Irishman serves virtually no purpose except as a bogeyman, which could have been accomplished just as easily and I think would have been mucheffective with a faceless No Man It didn t move the story forward at all, rambling around in this guy s head Dolly is pathetic Pup is a complete opportunist and womanizer Myra is a gold digger albeit with ridiculously low standards Harold is an oblivious lump the spiritualists are a bunch of credulous ninnies On the whole, a thoroughly loathsome cast of characters 7 10 I kill, therefore I am This is one of those books I feel I shouldn t give too much away about, suffice to say it is about a teenage boy who sells his soul to the devil and how that decision affects his sister s life When I say devil I do not mean a literal character, this is not a fantasy, rather a suspenseful study of the occult and mental illness, touching on alcoholism and with a bit of murder thrown in for good measure Sounds cheery doesn t it I honestly had no idea where this was 7 10 I kill, therefore I am This is one of those books I feel I shouldn t give too much away about, suffice to say it is about a teenage boy who sells his soul to the devil and how that decision affects his sister s life When I say devil I do not mean a literal character, this is not a fantasy, rather a suspenseful study of the occult and mental illness, touching on alcoholism and with a bit of murder thrown in for good measure Sounds cheery doesn t it I honestly had no idea where this was going until I was about 70% through it, Rendell builds the tension very well throughout and kept me interested enough to carry on while I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen The characters are some of theinteresting I have read about maybe because this would not be my go to choice of genre and the narration was constantly switching between them which I really enjoyed By the end I could tell who s mind I was in even if it wasn t made clear for a couple of sentences.This is a book where the small things matter, you notice the routines of the characters and their little quirks There is no travelling and the whole book revolves around one house in a London suburb I think the small scope completely absorbed me and I emerged from the last page a little stunned at having been dumped back into reality.If you like a little bit of darkness and a slow burn then this is the book for you

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