Book Review: Curse of the Dead-Eyed Doll by Thomas Kingsley Troupe

Title: Curse of the Dead-Eyed Doll Series: Haunted States of America Author: Thomas Kingsley Troupe Genre: Middle Grade, Horror Publisher: Flux, Jolly Fish Press Release Date: September 1, 2019 Format: Kindle
Pages: 136
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★☆

Alejandro Padilla isn’t superstitious and he doesn’t believe the stories that an old sailor doll in a Key West, Florida, museum is haunted. Robert the Doll might look creepy, but that doesn’t mean the doll is cursed. So Al ignores the tour guide’s warning to ask Robert’s permission before taking the doll’s photograph. But it isn’t long after Al’s field trip to the museum that strange things start happening. Al is quick to dismiss the odd occurrences as coincidence and bad luck . . . that is until they become more frequent and more sinister. Is the doll tormenting Al? And if so, what will Al have to do to get him to stop?

Every state has its own spine-tingling stories of ghosts and mysterious hauntings grounded in its regional history. The Haunted States of America series uses real-life ghost lore as jumping-off points to new, chilling tales. An author’s note provides historical origins and fascinating facts, but beware: sometimes real life is stranger than fiction.


I don’t normally read middle grade fiction, but when a book is marketed as both middle grade and horror, I give it a read. I’m happy to say that Curse of the Dead-Eyed Doll is a great example of both genres.

Now you might be thinking “How scary can middle grade horror be?” and from an adult perspective, you’re quite right! To an adult, middle grade horror isn’t going to be scary. But to a child in the middle grade reading level, it could be quite scary.

I actually found the book to be quite creepy. Were the things in it believable? Probably not. At least not if you’re someone who watches a lot of shows like A Haunting, Haunted Hospitals, or Paranormal 911. But not everything needs to be realistic to be scary. If it did, we wouldn’t have horror films, now would we?

I found the story to be well-written for the age group it is intended for. There aren’t big words middle grade readers won’t understand. The book also isn’t scary enough to cause nightmares unless your child is particularly sensitive.

The only issue I had was Al’s dad just isn’t a believable parental figure. He just doesn’t strike me as a real parent. Some of the things he does just don’t add up. You’ll see what I mean if you read the book before letting your child read it.

I think this is a great introduction to the world of horror for middle grade readers. It isn’t so scary as to cause a nightmare but it isn’t bland either. It’s a perfect mix of middle grade and horror.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

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