Six friends are returning home from a night out when they end up in a town called Stokes. They discover they are trapped there, as Stokes does not really exist. The actual town had burned to the ground more than fifty years ago. The Stokes they are in is a nightmare version of the former town, engineered by a deranged and undead mind, a supernatural machine of wrath that will destroy them one by one....unless they submit to its dominance and become living dolls.
About the Author
Tim Curran lives in Michigan and is the author of the novels Skin Medicine, Hive, Dead Sea, and Skull Moon. Upcoming projects include the novels Resurrection, The Devil Next Door, and Hive 2, as well as The Corpse King, a novella from Cemetery Dance, and Four Rode Out, a collection of four weird-western novellas by Curran, Tim Lebbon, Brian Keene, and Steve Vernon. His short stories have appeared in such magazines as City Slab, Flesh&Blood, Book of Dark Wisdom, and Inhuman, as well as anthologies such as Flesh Feast, Shivers IV, High Seas Cthulhu, and, Vile Things. Find him on the web at:
Tim Curran's latest finds six twenty-something's lost in the small-town of Stokes after an ill-advised shortcut off the highway following a night of partying. The de facto leader of the group, Chazz, is driving drunk and hits a man...who just so happens to not be a man at all, but a strangely configured collection of doll parts. And the town of Stokes? It shouldn't exist at all, after a fire wiped the town off the map. Separated by attacking doll creatures, the group stumble through Stokes while Curran delivers one scare after another.
Few horror authors deliver as consistently, or get under my skin quite as effectively, as Tim Curran. He is a master at description, and he fills Stokes and its inhabitants with carefully sketched details, and his gory details are enough to send up shivers. I've often referred to him as Michigan's answer to Stephen King, and I think that Doll Face captures this assessment fairly well. The premise is rather outlandish, and would likely prove to be ridiculous, if not outright comical, in less capable hands, but Curran is able to, somehow, make it work. The murderous, doll-like villains are certainly not your average Barbies or even your basically creepy Hummel figurines. They're axe-wielding, rapey psychopaths hell-bent on murder, their lust for blood utterly insatiable. Curran kicks it up a notch further with an intriguing history of Stokes as a factory town, infusing his story with a solid dose of industrial horror and truly awful spidery creations and rampaging Frankenstein-ish weirdos.
Anyone familiar with horror in general, and Curran in particular, know that these six lost souls are largely cannon fodder. Most of them are pretty well-developed, thankfully, and it makes losing them a bit hard to take given the perversely macabre ways of their dispatch. One meets an end that is not only revolting and squirm-inducing, but truly heart-breaking.
I have only one complaint, and it's that Doll Face gets a little too long in the tooth. The middle portion of the book dragged as the group basically finds themselves running in circles from one danger to the next, and I wished that Curran would just get to the point already. Still, that last third of the book is terrifically well-done and the climax is positively outstanding, with a chilling final sentence. While it's not my favorite Tim Curran book (Dead Sea still holds top honors), it is certainly well worth reading. Go get it!