I received a free digital copy of this ARC via NetGalley from Llewellyn Publications in a exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
I really really wanted to love this one and I think in a final version it would be a solid four stars. But I just felt like there were too many editing errors still, even in an ARC, that escaped notice. I feel like one more good sweep with an editing pen and this will be ship-shape.
Okay, so dolls are creepy AF. A story like this is way creepier and terrifying than any Chucky nonsense because it supposedly happen in real life. The doll in question is not named Chucky, but Norman. He was originally named Matty and functioned as the mascot for Mattel Toys. I do not want to go into how his name was changed or how he even came to be in possession of the author, aside from the fact that the author and his wife found the doll in an antique shop. I will leave the backstory to be discovered by you if you choose to read it - which I think you definitely should.
Whether you believe in paranormal experiences or not, this is a good book in either case. If you do believe already, then you will have no problem accepting what happens. If you don't, but enjoy being creeped out, read this as fiction and it works just as well. I, however, do believe and have had paranormal experiences for myself. The part that I actually found unbelievable was the fact that all of this stuff is happening, yet he and his girlfriend go on to have family Christmas at their house, exposing her (grown) children and grandchildren to the potentially malevolent spirit. That was seriously the part that made me think, "What the hell is going on?!"
I also find it helpful that the author himself is a paranormal investigator, so he was able to use the proper equipment to discover all he could about this new doll of his. As such, there were surveillance cameras set up around the house and in the book was are treated to stills captured from the film. The authors discusses whether or not the actual video footage will ever be released and I can accept his reason for choosing not to release it at this time: this is his private home. It will be another reason that skeptics dismiss his story, saying because there is no footage, but think about haunted place around the country. Many of them are constantly being flocked to by professional and amateur ghost hunters alike. I can understand why he would not want his home and family subjected to random people intruding on their lives. Perhaps some day he will decide to release the footage. If that happens, I am very interested in watching it.
Even as a believer, I am also skeptical when first learning of paranormal events and experiences. In this case it was no different and I appreciated that the author did not always just assume that every bad thing that happened could be attributed to Norman. I feel like that is an important ability to have. There are some ridiculous paranormal shows that automatically say everything is the result of ghosts or demons or whatever. Those are not shows that bring any value or lend any credibility to the field. But paranormal investigators like the author help to create a more logical and reasonable image of those who investigate paranormal events. Additionally, there were people outside the family who were part of the story indirectly. While I do not want to give too much away, there are two incidents I will mention here: 911 was called several times from the family's landline phone in the middle of the night, and at another point the author attempted to mail the doll twice to someone attempting to purchase the doll. It is interesting to me that, if the author were making this up, he would not have included these people, as anyone could check and verify this information. This seems to be another confirmation that, even if some events might have been exaggerated, something paranormal certainly DID happen - and a lot of somethings at that.
I am definitely intrigued by this story and plan to look for other titles written by this author detailing his previous investigations. I also hope for his family's sake that there is nothing more from Norman, though if there is I certainly hope he writes about it. This book I read within an hour or so. it is not a terribly long volume, but I also had to keep reading to see what might happen next.
Definitely a creepy account of a creepy toy that I am glad does not have a place in my daughter's toy box.