Title: My Uncle Makes Dolls to Replace Souls in Hell
Author: Brandon Faircloth
In My Uncle Makes Dolls to Replace Souls in Hell, Cora discovers the disturbing reality about her estranged uncle Teddy’s life (and death). Teddy has left Cora a massive inheritance, but only under the condition that she read and follow the instructions he has left for her. She needs the money, so she follows the instructions perfectly. For the most part, anyway.
In her uncle’s living room, Cora must arrange branches in a specific pattern, smear blood on a creepy doll that looks identical to him, and then light the whole thing on fire. Realizing she is participating in some sort of occult ritual, Cora hesitates. She didn’t know Teddy well and the whole thing spooks her, but the half a million inheritance is enough to convince her to carry out his request.
But her curiosity gets the best of her, and instead of leaving the scene immediately as instructed, Cora lingers and watches as the arrangement is set aflame. When Teddy magically appears in front of her, the flames and the doll are gone. Whatever just happened, Cora wants out, but it’s too late, and she is sucked into Teddy’s occult life.
With Teddy’s cunning intelligence and Cora’s sharp wittiness, the two form an entertaining, twisted mentor/apprentice partnership. The threatening, Hell-bound entities that surround Teddy and Cora lead to twisted, thrilling adventures to save their lives, and destroy others, that are fast-paced and unpredictable.
Faircloth’s Hell goes beyond the ‘fire and brimstone’ trope. Its diverse landscape, complex infrastructure, and wretched inhabitants make it almost unrecognizable. These creative and fascinating changes transform the already terrifying realm into a place of complete unknown that will keep readers on their toes.
The novel’s strongest elements are its nightmarish creatures, monsters, and supernatural beings that lurk on every page. The novel’s prime villain, The Hunter, is an aggressive monster who terrorizes Hell with its incredible speed, strength, and scare-tactics. The Hunter’s violent nature and the uncertain truths about its origin and true power make it even scarier.
Some of the best chapters in the novel are those that feature other characters who intertwine with Teddy and Cora’s story. The fantastical characters and heart-pounding cliffhangers, each ending with higher stakes than the last, will heighten readers’ anticipation and fear.
Fans of Faircloth will also be delighted and horrified to recognize the haunting character Mr. Jinkies from his previous short story collection, One Bite at a Time, who makes an even more ominous feature in this novel.
Narrators switch between different characters and at times it is a bit unclear who the narrator is. Though this adds mystery, for Teddy and Cora’s chapters specifically, it can cause some confusion. The ending scenes of the novel beg for a roar, but ultimately end with a small hum. Lots of dialogue and long explanations leave the last scene feeling a bit anticlimactic.
My Uncle Makes Dolls to Replace Souls in Hell is a dark, unique take on escaping the afterlife below–by any and all means necessary. Evil occultists, nightmarish demons, and unknown entities haunt the pages of this action-packed horror novel. Faircloth’s story will leave readers’ imagination running to the darkest corners of their minds as creepy dolls, creepier rituals, and even creepier supernatural forces take center stage.
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