In the land of dolls, there is magic.
In the land of humans, there is war.
Everywhere there is pain.
But together there is hope.
Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. But when a strange wind spirits her away from the Land of the Dolls, she finds herself in Krakow, Poland, in the company of the Dollmaker, a man with an unusual power and a marked past.
The Dollmaker has learned to keep to himself, but Karolina’s courageous and compassionate manner lead him to smile and to even befriend a violin-playing father and his daughter–that is, once the Dollmaker gets over the shock of realizing a doll is speaking to him.
But their newfound happiness is dashed when Nazi soldiers descend upon Poland. Karolina and the Dollmaker quickly realize that their Jewish friends are in grave danger, and they are determined to help save them, no matter what the risks.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not sway my opinion in any way.
To start out, I am a huge reader of books during WWII/The Holocaust time period. I feel like this time period is such an important part of history and I am always interested in how authors tell different stories (whether they are true or just based on the time period) about events that happened. There are a lot of stories out there about heroics during this time, whether that was on the battlefield or in the small towns across Europe. The Dollmaker of Krakow is one of those stories about the city of Krakow, Poland before and during the invasion of the Nazis. It follows a dollmaker and a doll that he brings by magic from the Land of the Dolls, Karolina, while they navigate this rapidly changing world of Nazi occupied Poland.
This book is a middle school level book and I think Romero does a great job of weaving a good story for that age group. Especially the ability to help them understand what horrible things occurred during the time period. She brings to life not only a doll but that time period and how it looked to someone younger and innocent. As a reader you make friends with a multitude of characters in the book, from a young Jewish girl and her father to a mouse that is brought back to life by the Dollmaker. You also meet people that you aren’t the biggest fan of, and they aren’t just Nazis. Each character had their own little personalities that you learn to love or hate.
One aspect of the book that I really liked was the fact that the author brought into play the culture and the different mythical creatures of Poland, which are different then what I grew up with. For instance, we are introduced to a Lakanicas, who are mythical creatures who rule over fields. It is always interesting to me to learn little bits like this in a book and I enjoyed the different aspects they bring to the story. I also really enjoyed seeing the Dollmaker and Karolina grow together through out the book. They helped each other realize that they can make a difference, whether it is helping one person or many. That no matter who you are, you deserve love, which is a good feature to have in a middle school aged book.
The only parts that I had a hard time with was the switching back and forth between Land of the Dolls and Krakow. Sometimes it seemed really random when they went back to the Land of the Dolls and it didn’t match up with the story that she was trying to tell in Krakow. Sometimes I wished there was a little more story in the Land of the Dolls and what happened to them afterwards. Though this didn’t take away too much from the story, it still stuck out to me and made me drop one star from my rating.
Overall I really did enjoy this book and it definitely deserves the 4/5 star rating. So if you are looking for an interesting book to read for the start of the school year, this book comes out September 12th! So only a few weeks away!