Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

A review of the psychological mystery thriller novel Baby Doll by Hollie Overton.

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With a craving for a new read while staying at a hotel, I surveyed the books on offer on the charity table in the lobby. None of them were books I would usually choose, and I almost committed the classic crime of judging a book by its cover, or at least by its title: Baby Doll—it sounded like some trashy novel full of spoilt women wearing too much make-up. Then I spotted the tag line, ‘Escape is just the beginning,’ and, thankfully, I turned the book over and read the blurb on the back cover.

Lily was sixteen when she was abducted, taken by a man she trusted, a man everyone trusted. Rick held her captive underground for eight years and used her to fulfil his every base desire. The very first paragraph sees Lily realising that Rick has, for the first time in her entire imprisonment, left the door unlocked. She wonders if it is another one of his sick tests of her loyalty or if it is finally a chance to escape.

This novel is written in present tense, allowing the developments of the plot to unravel as the reader progresses through. As well as Lily’s story, her twin sister and her mother’s views are also shown in this book, where the third-person narrative cleverly changes and adapts to suit their individual personalities. The reader gets to explore not only the impact the abduction and confinement had on Lily, but how it impacted her family—how the people who cared about her also lost their lives for the eight years while she was missing, not wanting to believe she was dead, not able to move on with their own lives.

This story is a deeply emotional one. Fortunately, what Lily endured from Rick is never elaborated upon, only suggested. There were moments throughout where the conversation between the characters was so moving and authentic that my eyes welled up. But this is not a sad story, not overall. It is a story of real true families and of resolution, where the plot can twist quickly and readers will not be able to guess what’s around the next corner.

Every now and then, as well as reading the thoughts and actions of Lily, her twin sister, and her mother, we occasionally get a narrative section from the eyes of Rick, the abductor. Rick is not remorseful, not one bit. He believes in taking action, and if he has desires and needs that cannot be fulfilled lawfully, then why shouldn’t he break the rules to satisfy himself? I feel shameful in admitting that the thoughts and opinions of Rick quite often made me laugh out loud. He is so smug, so arrogant, truly God’s gift to women in his mind. He is one of the most engaging antagonists I have ever read, because villains are usually the heroes of their own stories, and Rick truly is a hero in his own eyes.

I have never read a book as fast as I devoured this one. It was a compulsion because I was invested in the authentic characters, in their pain, the painstaking accuracy of the plot details and I needed to know the outcome.

If you, like me, would never usually read a book that on the surface seems too dark and too upsetting, then please know you are safe with Baby Doll. It only alludes to the grim details of Lily’s captivity and allows readers to fill in the gaps for themselves, focusing instead on the depth of the characters, their emotions and actions.

Baby Doll is a book that I cannot imagine any reader not getting captivated by and submerged in, and, in my opinion, is a great success.

Rebecca Delphine is a Young Adult author from Thanet.

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