The Doll Maker’s Daughter at Christmas by I.D. Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have mixed feelings about The Doll Maker’s Daughter at Christmas.
It starts with Serendipity, a young woman who’s spent the last 8 years atoning for the death of her family. She blames herself, and has vowed to construct every last doll her father bought before his death – somewhere around seven or eight thousand of them.
But she gets a letter from Corey, one of Santa’s helpers, a man/elf who is perhaps as unhappy as he is good at his job of recruiting toy makers. He’s instantly put off by her unkempt appearance, but persists, determined to keep his perfect record intact – even if it means using magic to ensure she’s never able to return home.
First, I got this book ages ago, and meant to read it, but the cover (the girl is beautiful, but the cover is just so washed out) and title kind of put me off (Why the Doll Maker’s daughter? She is a doll maker. And why at Christmas? Because the only Christmas is up in the North Pole, so it’s not really “at Christmas”). But it had been sitting in my TBR pile for a while, so I finally delved in.
The story had it’s ups and downs, but overall was well-written and enjoyable. I found Serendipity to be downright annoying at first (despite her somewhat Cinderella-like character) – her resistance to leaving, despite not wanting the constant reminder of her past mistakes and the possible help she could receive in completing her self-imposed doll making task, was frustrating.
I did appreciate Serendipity’s struggle with reading. I thought the author’s portrayal of her learning disability (dislexia, I assume) was interesting, though I speak as someone with personal no experience.
Then they get to the North Pole, and magically Serendipity blossoms into this beautiful, caring, smart, wonderful girl, and it’s a bit too much too quickly given her former state. Within three days of arriving, everything resolves. Corey’s transformation is a little better paced, but considering the amount of time it takes to transform everyone, it’s still a bit of a stretch.
I wasn’t terribly impressed with the motivations presented for the final hurtle before the resolution. But it had a happy ending, which satisfied on some level. Would have been charming if those little nits had been ironed out, but it was sweet and Christmas-y, so it gets four stars.
**The story is a sweet, innocent kind, so no swearing or sex. Not sure if the backstory would qualify as a trigger, since she accidentally killed her mother and sisters when she accidentally made a cake for them with rat poison.