The Quilliad Reviews: The Dollhouse Mirror by Frank Watson

In addition to posts about our own publication, The Quilliad will now be writing reviews of small press books. The Dollhouse Mirror Frank Watson

Our first review is of a poetry book, The Dollhouse Mirror, by Frank Watson. As the name of this collection suggests, it is both whimsical and dark. The poems’ subjects are abstract, referred to as “she”, “you”, “me”, or at most, “the little girl”–never by name. These archetypal figures draw on the inspirations for many of the poems: Tarot cards. And like most Tarot readings, interpretation of these poems leaves room for the reader to insert themselves. The absence of names or many defining characteristics for the subjects allows for an easy immersion into the emotions of each piece.

Again like Tarot, the poems concern themselves largely with love and death. They read like snippets of dark or wistful dreams (sometimes both), and many are tinged with eroticism. The occasional rhyming poem does so in a cheeky (dress/caress, page 16) and ominous way, as if to suggest that the next line is fated. Rhythm is also used to create a sense of foreboding.

The rich imagery, haiku-like stanzas, and plain language make for poetry with an air of mystery and romance that is ultimately highly accessible. Each page contains no more than seven lines of poetry, and the whole collection can be read in one sitting. The collection’s weakness is tied to its strength–at times, the poems can be simplistic and a little cliché, but many are brief but insightful explorations of feeling. The metaphors are clear but sometimes surprising.

Though the poems are short, there is enough substance in many of them to arrant a second glance, and it is obvious that Watson chose his words with care; there is clearly meaning to each line, even if some are a little on the nose. This poetry collection is an enjoyable read and would probably appeal to reluctant poetry readers as well as those who regularly sit down to read a poem with a cup of tea.

If you would like your book reviewed by The Quilliad, please email us at to discuss suitability and delivery of a sample copy.



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