Twins, the Whittle sisters are twenty-one years old and working in a doll factory when we first meet them. They are in the employ of a drug-addled despot named Mrs. Salter. They work grueling hours and live in a damp basement room under the shop. Rose sews the wardrobes of the dolls, while Iris paints the delicate features of their faces. The sisters were beautiful but are both flawed. Rose carries the horrible physical scars of smallpox, while our protagonist, Iris, has a deformed collar bone.
It is that deformity that causes Silas to become obsessed with her. Silas Reed is a taxidermist and covets any physical deformity or manifestation that would make his ‘art’ unique. Silas, already mad, has been driven even more insane by his abject loneliness and his unrequited love for Iris Whittle.
It is the year of the Great Exhibition in London. The ‘Crystal Palace’ has…
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