I thoroughly enjoyed Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black and I love dolls, so I was easily tempted by The Small Hand and Dolly. It contains two short novels by Hill.
Both novels had some genuinely eerie moments that raised the hair on the back of my neck, but The Small Hand is the stronger of the two. It has a more original plot (and a Shakespeare First Folio comes into play). A bookseller takes a wrong turn and comes across The White House, an abandoned, derelict home that was clearly once a showpiece. It appeals to him somehow, and he takes a short walk in the grounds. As he stands in a clearing, the evening falls silent, and he feels a small hand creep into his own. But the owner of the small hand is invisible, and the bookseller has trouble shaking The White House and the small hand. I was sucked right into the story, and the resolution surprised me.
Dolly was less surprising and less satisfactory. It involves two creepy dolls and a spoiled little girl. I had no trouble finishing it, but the ending resolved in a way I didn’t wholly buy.
Still, if you enjoy creepy stories of atmosphere, not action, I recommend The Small Hand and Dolly.