‘Baby Doll’ – Hollie Overton

Baby Doll

‘Baby Doll’ has a pretty explosive start. We open with Lily escaping from the room where she has been held captive for the last eight years. Along with her young daughter, Sky, she seizes her opportunity to run – hopefully, to safety.

I found the opening of the novel truly gripping. The focus on sound and the fear felt by Lily as she escapes was masterfully portrayed. As Lily describes recognising the area that she is running through and comes to the realisation that she has been held captive in the basement of a cabin only miles from her home, I wondered where Overton would take this.

Having seen Lily knock on the door of her old home and come face-to-face with her mother for the first time in eight years, Overton decides to focus on the narrative from the perspective of Rick – Lily’s abductor. From the outset it is clear that Rick is a repugnant character – he sees nothing wrong with what he has done, and the way he manipulates those around him is chilling. Splitting the narrative in this way created quite a stifling atmosphere, and I was very grateful that we did not get a lot of graphic detail about the horrors that Lily had endured.

While I was gripped by the story of what happens to Lily after she returns, I couldn’t help feel that Overton was trying to cover too many areas. I cannot begin to imagine the way people would react if someone in Rick’s situation was accused of such a crime, but I can’t see some of the things that happen to him being allowed. It also made me question my own views, as there was a part of me that felt pleased to see Rick being treated as he was in custody though it goes against everything that I believe in.

In spite of wanting to know more about the impact of the experience on Sky, I thought it was a bold move to focus instead on the relationship between Lily and her sister, Abby. Their relationship was intriguing. Although nobody could begin to imagine how they’d react in similar circumstances, I felt what actually happened was rather unlikely. It wasn’t what I expected though, so the element of surprise was welcome – and the ‘almost normal’ ending for Lily offset what was a particularly bleak read.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for my honest review.