- The Doll’s House – Debbie PSL: #155 
- Mystery Stories from Damian Darke
Damian Darke tells the story of a cursed Doll’s House and how it affects each new owner.
The story starts in the the 19th century, with Charlotte and her new doll’s house, that she shows off to visitors; Amanda Carter and her father. We think this will be the house of the story title, but when jealous Amanda causes Charlotte to fall on the house and break it, we know it can’t be. Instead Amanda asks her father for an even better doll house than Charlotte’s had been. He commissions a talented craftsman to build it, but then he cheats the Mr Sugam out of money pushing him to floor when Sugam protests. Sugam curses the Carters as they leave and later dies of his head injury. The police show up to question Mr Carter just as Charlotte is showing off her new house to Amanda. Charlotte is shocked to see the figure of Mr Sugam in her doll house lying unconscious on the floor, although no-one else can see it, she blurts out everything and the police arrest her father. After her father went to prison Charlotte was sent to a home for destitute children and the doll house ended up in a second-hand dealer’s shop.
Some months later a girl Lynn spots the Doll House and begs her adoptive mother to buy it for her birthday. But while her husband is away Mrs Blake can’t afford to buy it for her, instead she gives her a family necklace. Lynn ungrateful put it on stuffed parrot in the attic. When Mr Blake does return he buys the doll house for their daughter Alice’s birthday, thinking the girls can share it. Lynn is seething with jealousy and says Alice is clearly the favourite “real” daughter. When an opportunity arises for one of the girls to be painted as part of an advertising campaign, Lynn pushes Alice into a quarry getting rid of her competition. She rushes home and goes to find the old necklace in the attic to wear, she gets a shock to see one of the doll’s now life size in the attic with her and the door locked. Alice luckily surviving the fall rushes to her parents to tell them what happened, but they can’t find Lynn anywhere. Alice later sees 2 dolls in the attic of her dollhouse, one of which looks curiously like Lynn, it disturbs her so much she gets rid of the house.
It was bought by Sir Martyne for his children Elizabeth and Max. They were spoilt and ill-tempered and didn’t improve even as they grew up and their parents died. They raised the rent on their tenants to keep up their lifestyle and when they discover that one of their tenants have a girl they fostered that may be a long-lost heiress they force the Harrises to give the girl to them, hoping to get her fortune. The girl, Maggie, is allowed to play with the doll house, when she sees it on fire she douses it with water, angering Max, who calls her a liar. Later a fire breaks out in the actual house, Maggie tries to warn the siblings but they don’t believe her, she runs for help but it’s too late for the Martynes. Maggie does discover se is an heiress and is able to buy the land for her now adoptive parents the Harrisses. The doll house which was salvaged from the fire is sold off.
It appears again in the 1920s, by now legends have build up about the house that it can avenge evil and foretell the future. Milly who next gets the house is fascinated by the idea it could tell the future. Later it appears to come true, as her father is at a meeting, Milly sees the mother doll fallen out of bed onto the floor. She check on her own mother and sees her in a similar state, and looking older. Unfortunately the phone lines are down, forcing Milly to ride her horse in a storm to get help. She rides through the nearest village but it is now a run down ghost town. She meets a man who tells her a business man built a chemical plant in the village then an explosion killed half the people. Milly sees the old sign on the chemical plant has her father’s name on it, the man continues telling her the businessman died of heart attack and a little later his daughter found her mother on the ground sick from grief, she rode off in storm for help but fell when her horse stumbled. Milly begs him to stop, that it can’t be true, then she wakes up in her own bed, her parents beside her. When she tells o her dream, it turns out the meeting her father was at was about building a chemical plant, but he now changes his mind.
Finally in more recent time the Doll’s house is owned by Barbara, she notices a new figure in the house when suddenly a girl appears at the window. She talks a bit strange saying the house drew her there, and seems to vanish when Barbara goes to introduce her mom. Her mother goes to visit the new neighbours who seem to be cagey about their daughter. After another visit from the girl to Barbara, the family confront the neighbours with a handkerchief they found. It turns out their daughter is in a coma, when Barbara goes to talk with her, she wakes up and everyone is delighted. Damian Darke ends the tale saying the girls have now grown up and the Doll house is changing hands again perhaps someone has already bought it for the reader.
Halloween is the perfect time for a Damian Darke story. The storyteller had a few picture story library books, unlike the first book; Beyond a Strange Door… which had 4 different stories with a common theme, this book has the same object, connecting them all. The story starts with a good misdirect, as we see Charlotte with her new doll’s house we think this will be the story’s namesake, so it is surprising when it gets broken. After Amanda gets her house and Mr Sugam is cheated out of his money and he places the curse, it looks like nonsense words but appears to be just backwards, if we translate forwards he say “I curse – I curse…. no joy or..” we don’t see what comes after the “or” I wonder if there was addendum for good people as the strange house’s powers seem to evolve from punishing bad people to helping deserving people by warning them of future events.
The first 2 stories have jealous and spiteful girls being punished, the third story also has nasty people making their end, but also a change when Maggie is able to escape the fire and Martyne’s because of the doll house. The next story the helps Milly by showing her a premonition and in final story it seems to call to the comatose Fran helping her to get well again. It is strange that it evolves from punishing people when they do something wrong, to actively helping good people, certainly a very powerful house/curse! In particular things seem very elaborate in Millys story as not only does she something in the doll house but a very realistic and detailed dream of a whole village being wiped out. The creepiest story is Lynn’s end to become trapped as a doll in the attic, while it may be seem deserving after attempting to kill Alice, the Blakes were actually willing to forgive her and get the mental health treatment she needs (very generous and progressive of them!), of course they never find her, and Lynn is fleft to her horrible fate. After beginning with some unsettling stories, the last story is quite positive as the doll house helps both a comatose girl and it’s owner to find a lifelong friend, then with it’s ending of Damian Darke saying that the house could end up in a reader’s hands, the thought may be that it could help you… if you are a good person. But also could be considered a warning if you have any jealous or greedy thoughts!