“[Evokes] both Jeanette Winterson and Ian McEwan . . . an elegiac and uplifting novel about the indissoluble bonds between mothers and daughters, and a reminder of how the imagination can set you free.” — The Guardian
On Ruby’s thirteenth birthday, a wish she didn’t even know she had suddenly comes true: the couple who raised her aren’t her parents at all. Her real mother and father are out there somewhere, and Ruby becomes determined to find them.
Venturing into the forest with nothing but a suitcase and the company of her only true friend—the imaginary Shadow Boy—Ruby discovers a group of siblings who live alone in the woods. The children take her in, and while they offer the closest Ruby’s ever had to a family, Ruby begins to suspect that they might need her even more than she needs them. And it’s not always clear what’s real and what’s not—or who’s trying to help her and who might be a threat.
Told from shifting timelines, and the alternating perspectives of teenage Ruby; her mother, Anna; and even the Shadow Boy, The Doll Funeral is a dazzling follow-up to Kate Hamer’s breakout debut, The Girl in the Red Coat, and a gripping, exquisitely mysterious novel about the connections that remain after a family has been broken apart.
How desperately do the dead wish to interact with the living? This is a strong underlying theme in Hamer's second novel (after The Girl in the Red Coat). Ruby can see dead people, an ability she's been peripherally aware of since she was very young. On her 13th birthday, Ruby learns she was adopted; she confides this to someone she refers to as Shadow, an ever-present ghostlike companion who has tried to protect her all her life. Ruby, energized by the desire to find her birth parents, finally fights back against her abusive adoptive father. The consequences lead to her taking up with an odd group of siblings living hand-to-mouth in their family's rundown mansion while their parents are away in India on a spiritual quest. As Ruby's history becomes clearer, Hamer with evocative and vivid prose explores the depths to which a mother will go to connect with her child, while Ruby discovers her family's secrets and learns a true family can be the people we choose to live with, not just the family into which we are born.