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I'm beginning to think that Charlie Holmberg is incapable of writing a bad novel. The best part about her writing is that, unlike a lot of authors out there, her books just keep getting more creative. She never re-uses ideas and is always creating unique characters unlike any she has written before. Not only does she write amazing stories, but she builds exciting new worlds to explore in each book. I am beginning to liken her to Hans Christian Andersen, because the way her mind works when writing these stories is so exciting and different. No book is alike, and no book can be compared to others out there. She is in a league of her own.
Matrona Vitsin lives in a world of never ending sunshine. There is no rain nor snow, no war nor hunger. Going about each day working her family's dairy farm, she hopes to have a good marriage to make her parents proud. But one day on the way home, she finds a paintbrush on the path and realizes it belongs to the tradesman, Slava. Hoping to return it to him, she enters his home and discovers a room full of matryoshka dolls. Dolls who look remarkably like her family and neighbors, and even one who looks exactly like herself. When she opens up her own doll to find the smaller one inside, her whole world changes. Now, she is enslaved to Slava, who wants to make her the new keeper of the dolls. Every three days she must open up the next doll within her original doll, and each time her eyes will become wise to her reality. First comes secrets, next comes doubt, third comes memories, and lastly...well, you will have to read further to find out.
There is so much to say about this book, but without giving spoilers, it's difficult to tell you how magical it truly is! Even though I had an idea where the story was headed, I still found myself surprised at every turn. While The Fifth Doll focuses more on Matrona's struggle and growth, there is also a sweet romance between herself and the younger son of her neighbor. He is seven years younger, so in her quiet, conservative village, it is forbidden to act on her feelings. When you-know-what hits the fan, that all flies out the window, and the reader really gets to see Matrona and her sweetheart shine. I particularly liked how she didn't stick with her awful betrothed for very long and realized where her heart truly lied. It made the ending all the sweeter.
As always, I eagerly anticipate Charlie Holmberg's next book! I leave the story with a recurring thought in mind, "What will she think of next?"
**I received a free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**