Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Fifth Doll” as Want to Read:
The Fifth Doll
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Fifth Doll

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  5,007 ratings  ·  610 reviews
The Fifth Doll transports readers to a darkly whimsical world where strange magic threatens a quiet village.

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 ho
Audible Audio
Published (first published July 25th 2017)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Fifth Doll, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Christine It's not technically a YA novel but it totally could be. I'd say it's definitely appropriate for young adults, in both content and reading comprehensi…moreIt's not technically a YA novel but it totally could be. I'd say it's definitely appropriate for young adults, in both content and reading comprehension.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,007 ratings  ·  610 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Fifth Doll
Matrona lives in an isolated village. It's a close knit community were everyone knows everyone, and the church, and obedience to its teachings, is central to life. It's always summer, and the crops are always good. Life is quiet and uncomplicated-- the only strange things to have ever happened is when the potter's wife went mad and when Matrona's baby sister disappeared at three days old. The local tradesman, Slava, is the sole villager who has ever left; few others have even tried.

Matrona trie
samantha  (books-are-my-life20)
I really enjoyed this book, the plot was different and imaginative. It kept me wanting more, The characters were interesting and the main character was so believable, it was fun flowing through and trying to figure out the big picture within was fun. It was well written. I am completely intrigued and amazed at how the story developed. Who knew Russian Dolls could be scary! Not sure how I feel about the cliffhanger at the end. But it was a magical, mystery adventure, what's not to love! ...more
Zuky the BookBum
I had high hopes for this beautifully covered sci-fi fantasy novel, however, it didn’t live up to what I was imagining it to be.

What I didn’t realise was this is apparently Young Adult book, according to Goodreads anyway. Knowing this after I read it, it makes a lot of sense in relation to my issues with the book.

I enjoyed the writing in this one, even though it was reasonably simplistic in style. The descriptions in this are vivid, it was easy to imagine the quiet and old-fashioned village the
The Captain
Aug 08, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there me mateys! I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .

So as usual the cover drew me in. And the premise is quite fun. A girl accidentally finds a room in a neighbor’s house that contains matryoshka (nesting) dolls. The catch is that there is one painted to look like every villager. Why is there a doll painted with her face? This glimpse leads her to be drawn into the mystery of her neighbor Slava’s world. He wants he
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Charlie Holmberg is a relatively new author. I've read her Paper Magician trilogy, and it was highly original and was quite entertaining. The magic systems that she comes up with are Sanderson-esque.

The Fifth Doll is no exception. It's got a really creative and almost scary twist on magic and Russian nesting dolls.

You can read the blurb for what it's about, but basically, the main character stum
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved this!!!
A dark and twisted fairy tale filled with sorcery and nesting dolls!
I feel like this was a very refreshing book, something new and different that I haven't read before.
Every twist and turn kept me guessing as to what could possibly happen next, and I wasn't let down! I really enjoyed the way the story unfolded and wasn't left confused or wondering what was going on.

There were times when I was screaming to not open another doll, and then there were times when I wanted nothing more
Mel (Epic Reading)
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-netgalley
This is my first foray into the writing of Charlie N. Holmberg. The Paper Magician is patiently waiting on my overfilled TBR print bookshelf. After reading The Fifth Doll it is definitely moving closer to the top!

Fifth Doll is a solid read. Good characters, interesting unique plot, and a love interest/romance that was just enough for me. The magic in it is clever and yet felt very natural. I think often times when we can't put a finger on why we didn't like a magical system it's because it's ill
Caitlin Schanaker
I was SO elated to win this ARC (my first ever!) of Charlie N. Holmberg's new book, and even more so once I started to read it. Creepy in the absolute best ways, this story is immediately entrancing and mysterious. I just LOVE this Russian dimension she's created with so many twists and turns and characters that were easy to root for and gasp over.

I find her writing so incredibly easy to disappear into. She utilizes wonderful imagery and the pace is perfect, sweeping you right up along with it.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

World-building: 3/5
The world-building in general was pretty weak. The story was set in a remote village that’s later revealed to be in Russia (though this is really a no-brainer since the cover has a Russian nesting doll). What confused me the most was the magic in the book. It didn’t feel very well-thought out, and I often found myself wondering, “Well why didn’t she do this?” or “Couldn’t he have done it this way?” There were definitely holes in the way the magic w
R.Q. Woodward
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. Easily the best book I've read all year (which is saying a lot since it's my 26th in 2017).

The writing style is beautiful and flawless. The world comes alive with graceful imagery. The characters are complex and dynamic. The structure/pacing of the novel is steady and building: either the mystery of the world, the magic of the dolls, the romantic 'complications' of the protagonist (sorry, no spoilers!), or the timeline itself keep the book fascinating and engrossing throughout.
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is it about folklore and fairytales that always draws me in and refuses to let me go until the very last page?! This was such a dark and twisted tale filled with sorcery and nesting dolls. I have never read anything like it and I loved every minute of it! This was such a refreshing read, new and different with twists and turns that kept me guessing what could possibly happen next!? I enjoyed how the story unfolded layer at a time, like each layer of the nesting dolls that this tale was abou ...more
Jeff Wheeler
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm very partial to Charlie's books. I had to fight my oldest daughter to read my copy of Fifth Doll (she won) but I did finally get my turn and really enjoyed it. In fact, I may have liked it better than MAGIC BITTER or FOLLOWED BY FROST. The main character, Matrona, was instantly likeable. When she learns that the village tradesman has all these matryoshka dolls based on the villagers, she begins to discern that magic is involved when hers is opened and suddenly everyone knows her deepest secr ...more
The Fifth Doll is another creative and excellent book by Charlie Holmberg. We move through the story in Matrona's point of view as she discovers some strange things going on in her small village. I enjoyed that the reader didn't know any answers until Matrona figured them out. I also loved the unique world building that was centered on a Russian subculture. The Fifth Doll is hard to put down once you start. A fun read! ...more
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Fifth Doll is another excellent book by Charlie N. Holmberg. This was an intriguing world that she created and I loved how the story enfolds. Matrona is such a great character. Her curiosity leads to trouble at first, but I loved her determination to not accept a certain fate. There were so many things that had me guessing and I had a hard time putting the book down. Charlie does a great job of revealing the awesome twists and turns that kept the story moving perfectly. There were very cool ...more
 Simply Sam ツ
***3.5 Stars***

I have a feeling this book review is going to end up on the short, inchorent side.

For one, I'm tired. Only because I've been up and at 'em since 7:00am with work, then domesticky stuff, then school junk.

For two, I'm stopping mid-note taking so I can write this up for posting in the AM. So I'm in a bit of a time crunch.

For three, I really don't have a ton to say about the book.

For four, did I mention I'm tired? Yeah, that.

Here's the thing: I've read almost all of Ms. Holmberg's stu
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review "The Fifth Doll" by Charlie Holmberg. What a delightful novel. The author has a beautiful sense of style and world building. You find yourself thoroughly immersed in this quaint little Russian village where everything is lovely and delightful for the most part, even though Matrona, our protagonist, and the reader,are left with the lingering sense something is not quite right.

I truly enjoyed this book throughout, especia
Kirsty ❤️
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is such an unusual book and with an ending I really didn't see coming. When Matrona starts to open up her dolls strange things start happening. I won't spoil all but one of them includes all your past negative thoughts coming back at you in one giant wave of information. As someone with anxiety and depression trying to picture that happening was horrible. The first couple of reveals as she opens the dolls really made me think. 

I would have liked more details on Slava's backstory. When it fi
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Charlie N. Holmberg has a way of crafting magical worlds that I've never thought of before. While there may be some familiar elements, she bends them to her will and creates people and places and systems that weave together into a story that has me reading until the last page.

The Fifth Doll is the story of a woman, Matrona, who is living a relatively content life. She is not as respected as she'd like, being an unmarried woman at 26, but that will change with her marriage to the butcher. After a
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Fifth Doll reads like a classic fairytale, is wildly imaginative, and so much fun. This story is so unique and creative. I've never read anything like it before, and I absolutely devoured it.

The magic system in this story is so original and just so Charlie Holmberg. If you've read her other novels, you will totally understand what I mean when I say that Charlie's books, characters, and the magic systems within them are unlike anyone else's. Charlie has a truly individual writing style, and I
Tony Parsons
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Matrona Vitsin (26, daughter), & Roksana Zotov (Matrona’s BFF, nursery school teacher) were admiring Matrona’s mother’s chest.
In there was a hand-made doll that were memories of Esfir (6, daughter, Matrona’s sister) who had simply vanished from her cradle.
What did Slava Barinov (mysticist, tradesman) ask Matrona to do with the next doll she found in the chest?

1 of these days Matrona would make her parents happy & marry Feodor Popov (butcher).
Olia kept a watchful over Roksana who would have the
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The fifth doll... you are the fifth and you must make the dolls and continue my job or people will get hurt. The dolls must be created. Bad thing happen if they are not made but if they are opened things could get even worse.
Werid and beautiful. So intricate and interesting and unlike anything ive read in a long time.
Highly recommend!
Life is the purest form of magic.

The Fifth Doll was a cute, original reading that let me taste Charlie N. Holmberg's fervent fantasy.
The story had just that delightfully creepy touch that kept me hooked till the end. As doll after doll, layer after layer, the mystery unfolded, I became even more eager to know, to fully understand how deep and intricate were the secrets hidden within and beyond the dolls. I simply could not stop reading, that’s it.


Despite I overall enjoyed this book
This was an okay story to listen to. It was an intriguing idea for a plot, and I was very interested at first. However, I failed to connect with the main character, who seemed to act much younger than she was, and found myself losing interest as the story progressed. I'm hit and miss with young adult fiction, so this may appeal more to those who love YA fantasy stories.

I borrowed this in audiobook format through Amazon Kindle Unlimited.
Jana Brown
Sometimes there are authors who you know are really good writers and yet, for whatever reason, you don't connect to their writing. This is one of those books for me and the second or third time I've bounced off of one of Holmberg's books.

I read it. I enjoyed it, but I just didn't connect to either the plot or the characters. It's totally a personal issue, and not indicative of the book being in any way bad, but it just didn't connect for me.
Timothy Boyd
Nice different fantasy read. It reminded me a lot of an old Russian Folktale or fable. Recommended
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
2.75 stars.

I found this story to be interesting, which is more than I can say for a lot of what I've been reading recently. The spookiness was just enough to add to the intrigue without truly scaring me and there was just the right amount of romance to hold my interest without the addition of the dreaded sap. I enjoyed the engaging storytelling of Ms. Holmberg. The rich imagery and magical world building made the reading experience a pleasure.

However I had a hard time connecting with the MC,
S. E.  Drummond
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s clear from the get-go that something is not quite right in Matrona's village, though she herself isn't aware until a fateful action sets her on the path to unraveling the mystery. Charlie N. Holmberg's latest book, The Fifth Doll, fluctuates between the romance of an old Russian village, the beguiling spell of a fantasy tale, and the compelling lives of the characters brought to life throughout its pages.

The main character, Matrona, is a dreamer who longs for love, but with realist parents
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I love Russian dolls. There's something quite soothing about opening and arranging rows of little wooden figures. I also really like stories with a touch of Russian history, so when I read the blurb for this book, I was really excited to read it.

Matrona finds a room in her neighbour's house filled with Russian dolls that all bare a resemblance to the people in her village. Unable to resist, she touches one that resembles her fathe
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not one for reading blurbs. Most of the time, I jump right into a book with no knowledge of what it's about. But I read the blurb for this book and was immediately hooked. I hoped that the book itself could live up to how the blurb made me feel.

And it did.

I fell in love with this book. I read it like it was water and I was stranded in the desert. I needed to know more. Each twist in the book twisted my gut. It made me hunger for the rest of the story even as I was worried at what would come
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: The Fifth Doll/Charlie N. Holmberg - 2.5 stars 1 12 May 17, 2018 04:57PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Gold-Son
  • Gretchen and the Bear
  • The Mermaid's Sister
  • The Conjurer (The Vine Witch #3)
  • The Peddler's Reward
  • The Glamourist (The Vine Witch, #2)
  • The Vine Witch (Vine Witch, #1)
  • The Girl with Stars in her Hair
  • Everafter Song (The Evermore Chronicles #3)
  • The Woodcutter
  • Into the Hourglass (The Evermore Chronicles, #2)
  • The Impossible Girl
  • The Seventh Bride
  • Before the Broken Star (The Evermore Chronicles #1)
  • Half a Soul (Regency Faerie Tales, #1)
  • The Killing Fog (The Grave Kingdom, #1)
  • Ten Thousand Stitches (Regency Faerie Tales, #2)
  • The Immortal Words (The Grave Kingdom, #3)
See similar books…
Charlie N. Holmberg is an award-winning, best-selling, and internationally published author of fantasy and romantic fiction. She was raised a Trekkie alongside three sisters, who also have boy names. She is a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, owns too many pairs of glasses, and finally adopted a dog. She currently lives with her family in Utah. Visit her at

Amazon: amzn

News & Interviews

Care to travel to past times for some serious drama? Check out this season's biggest historical fiction novels and be transported to tales of...
63 likes · 20 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Mad Olia had a lot to say, and most of it was nonsensical, if it could be understood at all. Like bad poetry spoken underwater.” 1 likes
“He was still as an oak trunk, silent as a candle.” 1 likes
More quotes…