The Doll’s Alphabet by Camilla Grudova
Coffee House Press, 2017; 162 pp
Reviewed by Juliana Amir


The collection’s first story “Unstitching” conjured a pleasant sense of what did I get myself into. Whimsical with a resonating message, reading like suburban folklore spun with a feminist touch, it amped my expectations. As the stories wore on, all with a similar vibe, a dislodged sense of setting, and many nods to Greco-Roman mythology, my interest burned out.

The blurbs on the book led me to think this would read like a haunting old school fairytale, but missing key components of contrast and poetic language, it didn’t deliver.

The Doll’s Alphabet created its own sense of culture that unified the stories. Though the time period isn’t cemented, many of these read like dystopian fiction, which I am not the right audience for. The worlds in which these stories took place were well-crafted with attention to detail, but with an often bleak mood, it’s not where I want to dwell. However, if dystopian lit infused with ideas of gender dynamics feeds your imagination, then this is for you.