Book Reviews

Listen to the Birds: The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer @kate_hamer @FaberBooks

Let’s start the week with a good reading surprise! Thank you to Faber & Faber for inviting me to join this blog tour!

the doll funeral.jpgTitle: The Doll Funeral
Author: Kate Hamer
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Date of publication: January 2018
Format: paperback
Source: publisher
Number of pages: 359
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

My name is Ruby. I live with Barbara and Mick. They’re not my real parents, but they tell me what to do, and what to say. I’m supposed to say that the bruises on my arms and the black eye came from falling down the stairs.

But there are things I won’t say. I won’t tell them I’m going to hunt for my real parents. I don’t say a word about Shadow, who sits on the stairs, or the Wasp Lady I saw on the way to bed.

When Ruby discovers she is adopted she is filled with joy, elated that the parents who have treated her so badly aren’t her blood relations. The hunt begins for her real mother and father but dark and disturbing secrets are unearthed along the way.

Soon Ruby finds herself with a ragged group of teenagers fending for themselves. Thinking she has found refuge, they gradually reveal secrets of their own and Ruby realizes that being with them is more dangerous than she could ever have imagined…

my review red

The first surprise that comes with The Doll Funeral is the contrast between the cover and the title. This bright yellow was difficult to associate with the word “funeral.” Yet it works perfectly as your mind is racing to imagining what’s behind this color and the shape in the middle of this first glimpse of the story.

The second surprise comes from the genre the book is categorized into. I was expecting a mystery, and by many ways, The Doll Funeral actually is, but there is this magical side to it that makes me wonder if this is the right place for the book. When I reached the end, I realized it was in fact impossible to put a genre on Kate Hamer’s story.

I am not fond of stories told through kids’ eyes. I often find them boring, missing points, too simple. But Ruby is no ordinary child. When she is told she is not her parents’ biological kid, happiness flows through her veins and she resolves in finding her true family. Another important thing to know is Ruby sees things. Dead things.

Something deep was stirring in me, I sensed at that moment the demarcations between the dead and the living in a way that hadn’t been so strong or clear before.

By this time, which means very early in the book, I was wondering if this was a story for me. You know me, I’m all for realism! Seeing departed people is not an element that appeals to me. But I kept going for another chapter. Then another. Before I knew it, I was halfway through and completely in awe of the writing style. I believe this is what made me keep going until the end. Kate Hamer plays with words. She puts adults ones into Ruby’s mouth, and kids’ ones into adults’ mouths. She paints the world a million colors, a million shades of grey, and I couldn’t help being mesmerized by the vivid descriptions and the deep emotions they stirred in me.

Family is such an important part of life. Our histories can be sad, filled with bittersweet memories, or no memories at all, happy fleeting moments. Ruby’s family is all over the place and nowhere at the same time. The only constant by her side is Shadow. The Doll Funeral is a race against family secrets and injuries, a cry for happiness, a door to another world. I felt I had one foot in our reality and the other one in Ruby’s. It was not uncomfortable, it was pushing my boundaries and making me ponder about the powers of a little girl with resources and big inquisitive eyes. Emotions are all around Ruby, coming from her or to her, and envelops the reader in a foggy blanket.

I still believed that books could hold clues, secret messages in their text waiting to be unscrambled.

This special quote is the one I’m taking with me now that I can safely put away The Doll Funeral on my shelf. Kate Hamer whispers secrets through her text indeed. Like a good witch, she puts a spell on you and opens a box of possibilities, of why-nots, of whys, and of love.

Overall, the power of The Doll Funeral dwells in the powerful and gripping narration of the unbelievably believable story of a little girl looking for herself.

The book is already out! 🙂 Check out the stops on the tour for more information and reviews!

DF blog tour (2).jpg

15 thoughts on “Listen to the Birds: The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer @kate_hamer @FaberBooks”

  1. Fab review Meggy. This isn’t a book that I’d normally go for because like you, I like realism. However, your review has definitely tempted me to consider adding this one to my TBR. Glad that you enjoyed it.


  2. That must be the perfect quote that you chose. It’s brilliant.
    This doesn’t sound like a book I would usually pick up, but it does sound intriuging. Nice review and some great points made.
    Amanda xx


  3. The writing style sounds like something different! You have me fully intrigued now. And I agree, with such a shiny yellow cover you don’t really expect this kind of story… It is a very pretty one though. Lovely review! ❤ xx


  4. This sounds intriguing! I love books where you can just get lost in the gorgeous language choices. The magical element intrigues me – I always like it in a story it doesn’t seem to quite belong in.


  5. This does sound really well written and personally I do like books told from the perspective of children- I just think it gives the story an interesting dimension (though not always) Anyway, curious about this one- great review!


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