In the vein of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Number the Stars,this fusion of fairy tales, folklore, and World War II history eloquently illustrates the power of love and the inherent will to survive even in the darkest of times.
In the land of dolls, there is magic.
In the land of humans, there is war.
Everywhere there is pain.
But together there is hope.
Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. But when a strange wind spirits her away from the Land of the Dolls, she finds herself in Krakow, Poland, in the company of the Dollmaker, a man with an unusual power and a marked past.
The Dollmaker has learned to keep to himself, but Karolina’s courageous and compassionate manner lead him to smile and to even befriend a violin-playing father and his daughter–that is, once the Dollmaker gets over the shock of realizing a doll is speaking to him.
But their newfound happiness is dashed when Nazi soldiers descend upon Poland. Karolina and the Dollmaker quickly realize that their Jewish friends are in grave danger, and they are determined to help save them, no matter what the risks.
3.5 crowns, which sort of makes it a four, so I finally broke my 3 crown streak!!
This is so completely interesting and captivating but also super boring at the same exact time. What is life. Also, this is one of the worst audiobooks to listen to in the car with a windows open.
I think I’ve mentioned on the blog before that literally a book will INSTANTLY pop onto my TBR the moment I spot a place I’ve been. Poland is one of most beautiful places that I’ve ever been, and when I saw Krakow, that gorgeous cover, and magic/folklore, I’M PRETTY SURE THE TEARS STARTED FLOWING AND NEVER STOPPED.
This book was such an interesting one that I have a hard time even beginning to try and explain my thoughts on it. If you’re going to read this book, I really do recommend the audiobook. The actress that did the voices was INCREDIBLE. She did so many different voices, and they were each distinct and original and easy to identify. I was SO impressed. It really was enchanting to hear.
As I said in the beginning moment, this book was incredibly interesting yet boring at the same time. It is super slow moving, and every time that I thought it was ending, it just kept goinggggggggggg. I couldn’t figure out where the story was going either. I felt like there really wasn’t a plot sometimes. I knew the big picture, but I still wanted a bit more direction. HOWEVER, the story was very character-based, and the characters were quite interesting along with the world.
The world building really was done quite well. It honestly felt like a giant folklore story, and it just had this cool feeling to it. I thought the atmosphere was just BRILLIANT. Romero did a fantastic job of weaving in the folktales with the actual real historic events. The Land of the Dolls was just simply stunning. She’s definitely a very talented writer, and if you’re looking for something to help get you into more historical fiction, this is definitely the story for it.
The characters were an intriguing bunch. I really wasn’t a fan of Karolina. She made a lot of stupid decisions, but the rest of the characters were great. Did I feel a really strong connection to them? Not really, but I did like the people I was supposed to like and hated the people I was supposed to hate. They were distinct and dynamic.
I would have to say this is probably higher middle grade than lower middle grade. Romero takes on deep, important topics in World War II. It does have light-hearted moments, but the ending is definitely tough. It’s hard to read the story, knowing what you know is happening and even though this story is a work of fiction, these things really did happen to the Polish and Jewish people. I didn’t realize just how much I was going to get sucked into the emotional turn this book takes.
I’m not sure my review did this book any justice. I just couldn’t figure out how to say any of the words in my head about it. This book had such an interesting, captivating, alive atmosphere that had me feeling like I was reading a fairytale. The characters were interesting and dynamic, and the world building was well done. It was slow moving, and I did get a bit lost on the plot. Overall, I would still recommend and especially the audiobook! 3.5 crowns and a Jasmine rating!
What do you think? What are some of your buzzwords to get you to read a book? What is your favorite middle grade novel? Are you excited for this one? Let’s discuss in the comments below!