The Dollhouse Murders

the dollhouse murders betty ren wrightEvery now and then we like to go hunting for treasure in local thrift stores When comes to books that I read as a kid, there is one store where I regularly hit jackpot. (I once, on my birthday, found a Virago edition The Brontes Went To Woolworths for $1. Before Bloomsbury re-issued it, copies like the one I have used to go for insane prices on eBay.) On one of our last trips to this store I found a copy of Betty Ren Wright's The Dollhouse Murders. At only $0.25 I couldn't just leave it there, could I?

I liked creepy stories growing up but they couldn't be too creepy or scare-the-pants-off-you scary. Stephen King's Carrie? Fine. Stephen King's It? Terrified of clowns to this day. This book was just enough creepy and not enough scary for me to have loved the pants off it when I was kid. It was interesting to re-read it so many years later. It's still got some creep factors but it's dated in other ways that don't work so well and they were a bit distracting. A twelve-year-old child caretaking her younger special needs sibling by herself all the time? In a mall? No. Same twelve-year-old leaving the house in a fit of anger, hopping on her bike and not checking in for a few hours? Also probably a no.

The plot is simple enough. Amy is fed up with always having to take care of her younger sister Louann. She's rarely allow to do anything without Louann and very few kids want to hang around with their younger siblings all the time. Amy really loves Louann, she just needs a bit of her own space and to not always have to babysit her. After a fight with her mother, her parents decide that Amy can stay with her Aunt Clare in the old family farmhouse. Little does Amy know that the farmhouse is full of secrets.

When Amy discovers a dollhouse in the attic that is an exact replica of the farmhouse she thinks it's the most awesome thing ever. It even has dolls that look like the family members. Aunt Clare, who received the gift for her 15th birthday, never liked it. (I wouldn't have liked getting it for my 15th birthday either.) The dollhouse is also not awesome and kind of terrifying. Late at night Amy hears weeping coming from the dollhouse and discovers that the dolls are moving around by themselves. She discovers, after going to the library and doing some research on microfilm (microfilm!), she discovers that her great-grandparents (who were raising her father and Aunt Clare) were murdered! Her father was in the house at the time but survived because her great-grandmother hid him. Aunt Clare had been out, but was the one to discover their bodies. The dolls are trying to tell Amy what happened that night...

Still totally creepy.

Have you read any of the books that creeped you out when you were a kid as an adult? Do you still find them creepy?