This morning something reminded me of the book while I was sitting at my computer, so I typed these four words into Google: “children’s book evil doll.” It took only a few hits to discover that the book is A Candle in her Room, by Ruth Arthur. It was seeing a reference to the doll’s name, Dido, that made me remember for certain.
A Candle in her Room was published in Britain in 1966 then again in the U.S. in 1972, but has been out of print for years. Several of the Google hits were links to Amazon and Goodreads and I looked at them to see if anyone had posted reviews of it. Amazon has 17 reviews and the thing that most strikes me is how many people talk about what a lasting impression the book made on them. Here are some quotes:
It's a fascinating read for a kid, full of drama and magic and scares…I'm an adult and I still remember the book.And here’s one more from Goodreads: “I never looked at dolls the same way again.”
I first read this book nearly 30 years ago and can still remember it vividly.
Never, before or since, have I read a book which affected me the way this one did. I remember it in almost uncanny detail.
I memorised the first and final lines of the book and can you believe - I still know them.
I see that Ruth Arthur wrote several other books for young women and several of them sound familiar, especially Requiem for a Princess, but I can’t really say for certain whether I read them or not. Certainly none had the impact on me that A Candle in her Room did. Alibris and Abebooks offer used copies in the neighborhood of $45, and my library system has one copy, which I’ve requested. What a wonderful writer Ruth Arthur must have been, to create a book about which so many people formed such strong memories.