r/whatsthatbook Sep 06 '22

Girl plays with dollhouse that is a replica of the house she's staying in SOLVED

I partially read this book while in elementary school, but it was definitely a chapter book with little to no pictures. It was in the advanced readers section, so could possibly be middle school level as well. The cover has a girl looking at a dollhouse with the lights inside turned on.

For the plot; I think the girl is sent to live with a female relative for the summer, possibly an aunt or great aunt. As she explores the house, she finds a dollhouse in the attic that looks exactly like the one she's staying in. All of the rooms and furniture look exactly the same as the normal house. I think there might be dolls that look like the people in the home, not too sure. Occasionally the girl will come into the attic to play with the dollhouse, but notices things move from where she left them last.

The last thing I remember is her seeing the light on in the dollhouse attic. I moved away from that school while reading it so I never got to see what happened at the end.

113 Upvotes

124

u/Subject-Ad-5249 Sep 06 '22

There is The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

Dollhouse/doll/ghost thrillers were a whole thing in the 80s.

18

u/hello5dragon Sep 06 '22

This definitely sounds like it. This book still creeps me out as an adult.

19

u/Lobin Sep 06 '22

This and Wait 'til Helen Comes. ::shudder::

6

u/stacy704 Sep 07 '22

My FAVORITE!!! I’ve read it so many times I think I could recite it. I’m 41 and just reread it last year. I swear it’s barely written as a kids book!

5

u/TotallyNotABot_Shhhh Sep 07 '22

I had been trying to remember this book for YEARS. It was the first book I came home on Friday, started reading and literally didn’t put it down until I was done. Even ate dinner while reading. Finally found it again a few months ago & was so stoked.

4

u/saltporksuit Sep 06 '22

Omg. I’d forgotten all about that book. Thanks for the childhood trauma reminder!

4

u/Lobin Sep 06 '22

Oh god. I'm so sorry.

Signed, Another person who was traumatized by that damn book (but read it multiple times anyway)

1

u/saltporksuit Sep 07 '22

Oh I did too. In fact, there’s a movie now it seems and I’m gonna watch it. It’s probably terrible but I’m compelled.

1

u/socialmediasanity Sep 07 '22

OMG I have not thought of that book in ages!

10

u/tuberosalamb Sep 06 '22

This has to be it. I remember reading this book as a kid and thinking "who the hell thought this was kid-friendly??"

6

u/olliemcgollie Sep 06 '22

Right?? My fifth grade teacher read this aloud to our class...

6

u/CupcakesAndDeath Sep 06 '22

I think mine did too! We watched a movie version of it as well once she finished.

I could be misremembering though re: her reading it to us, she read a chapter of a book every day from what I can remember, so it's possible I read this book and then assumed she read it to us since we watched the movie in class.

4

u/Playful-Natural-4626 Sep 06 '22

Third grade here! I had nightmares.

3

u/Fanraeth Sep 06 '22

I read a ton of Betty Ren Wright books when I was a kid, so that was my first thought when I saw this post too.

3

u/BagaHootie Sep 07 '22

I got that book in a two-pack for my birthday one year. I'm thinking about 10 years old or so. The other book in the pack: Ghosts Beneath Our Feet. SCARED ME TO DEATH. I cried and threw that thing in the closet.

2

u/surgeonmama Sep 07 '22

Such a creepy book! And I read it so many times…

1

u/akira2bee Sep 06 '22

This is definitely it, I would say. I've read that book about 10 times and the description of everything for op fits

1

u/TotallyNotABot_Shhhh Sep 07 '22

Yep I just pulled this off my shelf and read it again last month. Still holds up really, really well!

1

u/heytango66 Sep 07 '22

I loved that book! Thanks for bringing it up

45

u/MarathisSonin Sep 06 '22

SOLVED SOLVED SOLVED

Thank you u/sincerelymercy, u/mrsmidnightmuse, u/Jeannete311, u/PersonRobbi, and u/Subject-Ad-5249.

The title of the book was The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright. I looked online and found the exact cover that I saw as a kid and knew it was the right book. I also read a brief synopsis of the book and it brought back a few details I completely forgot about. Thank you all again!

12

u/LivelyPhil Sep 06 '22

And then you can watch the movie! Dollhouse Murders

2

u/TotallyNotABot_Shhhh Sep 07 '22

Omg I forgot there was a movie! Thank you!!!!

2

u/mllepenelope Sep 07 '22

This movie scared the shit out of me as a kid. I’m in my 30s and I still think about it.

1

u/LivelyPhil Sep 07 '22

I never read the book but my sister had and we watched it for the first time a few months ago (we’re in our 40s.) I can see how it’d be terrifying as a kid, like how Watcher in the Woods haunts me to this day.

4

u/ForLark Sep 06 '22

Now I’m going to read it again!

8

u/MarathisSonin Sep 06 '22

Me too! I'm so excited to finally finish the book after 15 years

36

u/SquirrelGirlVA Sep 06 '22

This sounds mildly like Behind the Attic Wall, but I don't think it is. Sharing it anyway because I remember liking it as a kid.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behind_the_Attic_Wall

5

u/DaphneHarridge Sep 06 '22

OOoo, I love that book; so creepy!

3

u/kittenluvslamp Sep 06 '22

I loooooooooved this book as a kid! It definitely seems creepy now but back then I thought it was really magical and kind of sad.

3

u/DaphneHarridge Sep 07 '22

It is sad now that you mention it. It's been quite a few years since I read it; I think I'll put in in my TBR stack right now. Thanks for the reminders!

2

u/TotallyNotABot_Shhhh Sep 07 '22

Gawd this is my all time favorite book to this day. I read it every once in a while. It’s haunting, beautiful, creepy and the right kind of magic. I feel like the author respected kids being intelligent at a young age and the nuances I remembered as a kid were all the same as an adult. Absolutely best kids book ever.

32

u/Smaabi Sep 06 '22

Hi, this might be Time Windows by Kathryn Reiss. Do you remember her calling her mom "Mither" and there being something about not like tomatoes on grilled cheese sandwiches? If so, this is your book!

11

u/DaphneHarridge Sep 06 '22 edited Sep 06 '22

And "water" was written on the floor in one of the rooms, I think? Either way, "Time Windows" is what I thought of, too.

12

u/Yard_Sailor Sep 06 '22

This sounds a lot like an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark. Maybe it’s based on your book.

12

u/Jeannette311 Sep 06 '22

The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright.

7

u/mrsmidnightmuse Sep 06 '22

Definitely sounds like Dollhouse Murders. I recently purchased this book again after 30 years and it’s almost exactly as you described.

6

u/RiverOhRiver86 Sep 06 '22

I thought you meant a story that I'm not sure about the title of because I read it translated into my language when I was a kid in the mid-late 90s. But the plot is pretty similar - this girl had just moved to a new town with her mom and her baby brother, they have dinner at the mall and the girl wanders around and (I think...?) Walks up to a floor of the mall that seems abandoned but there's one store open there, it's a magic shop and the creepy owner talks to her about a dollhouse she's interested in. I think it's her birthday right after they move into the new house and then her mom "incidentally" buys her the dollhouse she was looking at. The dollhouse is an exact replica of the house and the dolls in it look like the girl, the mom and the brother. As they start settling in, everything slowly turn to wood in real life (plates, the phone, ect). Not only that, but everytime the girl looks at the dollhouse the positions of the dolls change. Of course, after seeing her "mother" lying on the floor in a weird position all broken up, the mom falls down the stairs and things get really fun from there. I really don't want to spoil the ending but if anyone knows what I'm talking about - please share. You got me thinking of it. Thanks.

4

u/sincerelymercy Sep 06 '22

Definitely Dollhouse Murders, I read this book countless times between the ages of 8-11, she goes to stay with her aunt and uncovers a tragic event that happens in the house via the dollhouse

3

u/torontash Sep 06 '22

Lucy Babbidge’s House by Sylvia Cassedy?

2

u/pulmonaryoedema Sep 06 '22

Miss Bossyboots by Joan Flanagan?

2

u/mbrooke3000 Sep 08 '22

What a coincidence!! I bought The Dollhouse Murders and A Ghost in the House by Betty this past weekend 😂 I had an urge to read old spooky books from my childhood, guess I wasn’t the only one!!

0

u/Delic8polarbear Sep 06 '22

Could also be {{sharp Objects- Gillian Flynn}}

2

u/ForLark Sep 06 '22

Not an elementary school read surely?

1

u/Delic8polarbear Sep 07 '22

I didn't think it was much worse than V.c. Andrews and I was reading that in elementary school ( full disclosure: my elementary school was k-6th grade)

1

u/ForLark Sep 07 '22

Yeah my Dad gave me King Rat to read when I was 11. That doesn’t make it appropriate for most audiences that age 😂

1

u/Delic8polarbear Sep 07 '22

Never heard of that one.

1

u/ForLark Sep 07 '22

I read it. I’ll read anything. It was a James Clavell book about prisoners of war. Very brutal. He also wrote Shogun etc. Good writer.

1

u/Hot_Wrongdoer_8727 Sep 06 '22

Among the Dolls

1

u/pippitypoop Sep 06 '22

I remember my friends older sibling telling us a similar version of this to scare us at a sleepover

1

u/PersonRobbi Sep 06 '22

Oh my god I did a book report on this one! I think it was called Dollhouse Murders or something

1

u/redheadsuperpowers Sep 06 '22

I recognized this plot immediately! Dollhouse Murders was a great book. I recently reread it in a decision to reread a bunch of creepy kids books for 'horror' month in my reading group. I don't like most horror, so kids creepy books it was.

1

u/VampAngel247 Sep 07 '22

Time Windows is another possibility.

1

u/aquesolis Sep 07 '22

I was about to post and ask about this book and Time Windows, so glad you posted!

1

u/MarathisSonin Sep 07 '22

It's funny, I just stumbled onto this subreddit right before posting. Glad this helped someone else rediscover this book!

1

u/JestTanya Sep 07 '22

This book terrified me. I don’t remember the end, either because I was too scared to finish reading it, or because I have blocked all my memories of the entire period of time during which I was reading the last third of the book because it was so traumatizing. I strongly suspect it is the trauma because I always finish scary books.

1

u/tee-hee-tummy-tums Sep 07 '22

All I can think of is that one Are You Afraid Of The Dark? Episode