The Dollhouse, Edith O'Deer, short story, ghost story, horror


Edith O'Deer




13,400 words -  40 pages

A Ghost Story

By Edith O'Deer

Anabella and Brom's marriage is as broken down as the old house they've just purchased, a fixer-upper they hope will give them a common purpose and strengthen their bond. But the house comes with more than weeping wall paper and an overgrown garden. It comes with a ghost story that will drive a wedge between them and bring death knocking on their door.



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Praise for "The Dollhouse"

Review of The Dollhouse by Seasoned Horror author AJ Kirby

In The Dollhouse, Edith O' Deer does for dolls what Stephen King did for clowns in “It.” She makes fun childhood things into objects of terror. This is a story dripping with tension and intrigue. It's a story that kept me hooked right to the end where the final revelations had me wondering just how O' Deer managed to pull off a brilliant feat of storytelling. From its atmospheric opening to its dramatic finale, the pace never lets up in this wonderfully plotted horror tale.

At its heart, the story has real people with real concerns. O' Deer knows how to flesh out her characters so that we, as readers, truly care for them. At its center are the husband and wife, Anabella and Brom. Only, it soon becomes clear they are far from being the perfect couple. In a few deftly introduced details, O’Deer makes it clear that this is a couple residing in the last chance saloon. They've just bought a new (old) house as a last hope for their collapsing marriage. The house, though, is in a worse state of repair than their relationship, described as "an ugly start for a new beginning." It's falling apart, and some major repair jobs are needed to make it the 'home' where they can raise a family. But it soon becomes clear that this 'fixer-upper' house won't solve their problems. At the first mention of ghosts, the story's conflict is set up straight away, which brings tension to the fore: Brom doesn’t believe in ghosts. Anabella, however is a 'believer.’ An aching silence grows between them. She craves for Brom to cuddle her in bed at night, to protect her, but he thinks she’s being stupid, mocks her, and eventually starts sleeping on the couch.

What follows is nothing short of breathtaking. First, there is the terrible, visceral moment when Anabella believes she sees the body of a baby in the stream behind the house. And this quickly progresses through her hearing the shrill laughter of children at night, coming from the cellar, and then later, when she goes down there, amongst the junk, she catches strange sightings in the dusty haze. She quickly begins to believe the house really is haunted. But by whom? And why? What happened in this house?

The cast of characters increases with Adam, the hunky realtor. A crabby woman lives next door, Mrs. Dowell, what does she have to hide? Who is Rosalie? And then there are the dolls.

Underneath everything, this excellently wrought psychological horror concerns itself with a couple in crisis. Anabella won't have children until she feels more secure in the marriage, and yet, at every turn, children, or children's toys haunt her like echoes of her deepest, darkest fears. Channeling Rosemary's Baby, the horror in this story lies in the psychological plausibility. And Anabella's journey, one in which she must discover her inner strength against all the odds, supernatural or otherwise, makes her a true heroine.

O' Deer is a fine writer. Her prose shine through in passages such as: "Brom turned hard eyes to her as if her answer hung from the rafters by a noose." And: "Dragonflies flittered above the water like little helicopters afraid to land." And: "Cold air gripped her feet, her ankles then her knees, like the groping fingers of the dead."

This is an excellent read for hard-core horror fans to bite their nails over. And I am now a hard-core fan of Edith O’Deer.