The Fifth Doll – What Are Your Secrets?

The Fifth Doll

By Charlie Holmberg

Spoiler Alert!


The bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series transports readers to a darkly whimsical world where strange magic threatens a quiet village that only a courageous woman can save.

Matrona lives in an isolated village, where her life is centered on pleasing her parents. She’s diligent in her chores and has agreed to marry a man of their choosing. But a visit to Slava, the local tradesman, threatens to upend her entire life.

Entering his empty house, Matrona discovers a strange collection of painted nesting dolls—one for every villager. Fascinated, she can’t resist the urge to open the doll with her father’s face. But when her father begins acting strangely, she realizes Slava’s dolls are much more than they seem.

When he learns what she’s done, Slava seizes the opportunity to give Matrona stewardship over the dolls—whether she wants it or not. Forced to open one of her own dolls every three days, she falls deeper into the grim power of Slava’s creations. But nothing can prepare her for the profound secret hiding inside the fifth doll. (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

The Fifth Doll is one of my favorite stories by Holmberg. It contains a beautiful magic system and has unexpected layers. One of the reasons I love it is because I visited Russia many years ago and it reminds me of my time there. You won’t need to go to Russia to enjoy this story.

Matrona feels lost in her world. She wants to be loved but there is a barrier to her getting what she wants. Her sister disappeared, and she wonders if that is why her parents, and particularly her mother, are distant. Her fiancé has never kissed her. Why does he want to marry her? Then there is the young man who she can’t stop thinking about. At least her secret is safe. Or is it?

Jaska’s life has been filled with pain. The village has shunned his family, his mother is insane, and his father a drunkard. What would he be willing to sacrifice to understand the world around him? Would he give up his secrets?

I highly recommend this book.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star
  • Michelle

If you loved The Fifth Doll, try Enchantment by Orson Scott Card and Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.

If you can’t find anything to read, send me a message, and I’ll help you find a book. The world is full of adventure, and we all deserve to live it.

About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow-cooked in a tagine. I write stories and illustrate in ink.
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