Review of “The Haunted Dolls’ House” (1925)


M. R. James (writer).

Read in 2017.

Precisely what it says on the tin.

The haunting takes an interesting form: The doll’s house is lit up as if by a harvest moon at 1 o’clock and the man watching it sees the pivotal moments of its tragedy enacted with great clarity, without actually moving around the miniature. As in “The Story of a Disappearance and an Appearance” (1919), my thoughts go to film, but here the emphasis on the strange manner of the supernatural experience is stronger. With more work this story could have evolved into an interesting reflection on the false sense of power inherent in the miniature hobby, but although the unfortunate buyer of the house does thankfully get to the bottom of the mundane aspect of the story, James insists on his stiff self-consciousness in setting the scene. At the end of the copy I read in The Wordsworth Book of Horror Stories, James even apologizes for the similarity of this story to “The Mezzotint” (1904).

References here: “A View from a Hill” (1925).

text fiction