Title: The Fifth Doll
This is my first foray into the writing of Charlie N. Holmberg. The Paper Magician is patiently waiting on my overfilled TBR print bookshelf. After reading The Fifth Doll it is definitely moving closer to the top!
Fifth Doll is a solid read. Good characters, interesting unique plot, and a love interest/romance that was just enough for me. The magic in it is clever and yet felt very natural. I think often times when we can't put a finger on why we didn't like a magical system it's because it's illogical or unnatural. Holmberg certainly understands how most people think and keeps his magic inside a realm we can all easily understand and appreciate.
There is a constant tension and step-up of the plot in a way that keeps you turning pages. I was never once bored or annoyed with the general story. Certainly I cheered on the obvious romantic interest, as everyone likely will, and am frustrated when I doesn't play out "perfectly". But this I also liked because it's more like real life. Pieces rarely fall into place in the way you expect them to.
Overall, The Fifth Doll is a solid read. You won't go wrong gifting it to a teen 13 or older (maybe even a bit younger if the child is an advanced reader). It's got some intense moments but they are not inappropriate at all. Just moments that are dark enough to keep a teen reading but nothing too offensive that parents would frown at.
Alternatively if you are like me and an adult that loves teen books I believe that you will at least be moderately pleased with this read. It's not the best book of the year but it's certainly worth a place on my shelf and I have no trouble recommending it.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.