The Dollmakers: A Novel from the Fallen Peaks

Harper Voyager. Aug. 2024. 400p. ISBN 9780063308268. pap. $19.99. FANTASY
DEBUT Buchanan’s debut novel introduces her world of the Fallen Peaks. In a country called One, strange beasts burst from the wilds, with deadly results. The only force capable of defeating them are magical dolls, guided by their creators. However, when Shean’s years of training as a dollmaker culminate in failure (her dolls are deemed unfit for combat), she reacts with unnecessary violence, destructive childish tantrums, and a plan to steal a stranger’s livelihood and endanger their home. Readers who appreciate redemption arcs for unlikable protagonists will enjoy the self-awareness that begins to spark in the latter half of the novel. Before then, the story splits its focus between Shean’s less-than-righteous anger and worldbuilding that moves beyond the scope of this novel. Readers get strong glimpses of a deadly threat that’s likely to be explored in future Fallen Peaks books. Whether Shean will appear again is unclear, as the novel’s conclusion ties her to the greater conflict but also leaves space for her to pursue new dreams off-page.
VERDICT Though the unlikable protagonist may discourage some readers, Buchanan’s novel echoes with alluring nostalgia that’s sure to ensnare others to the very end.
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