The Case Of The Haunted Dollhouse Week #1 Review – October 2017
An utterly unique experience awaits within The Haunted Dollhouse. Original designs and antique objects weave a gorgeously immersive puzzle, imagining an alternate history of New Orleans played out across a tiny stage.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
The Subscription Box: The Case of the Haunted Dollhouse
The Cost: $175 for five boxes. (This works out to $35/box.) Shipping is $19.99 within the US for a box containing all five parcels or $49.99 to have a box sent each week as the mystery unfolds.
The Products: ‘Each mysterious parcel contains 10–30 pieces: word games, puzzles, simple DIY projects and various miniature & antique objects.’
Ships to: Worldwide
Note: I will show the items that I received, but I will not reveal every clue. You will have to subscribe if you want to solve the mystery!
The technicalities of the subscription are covered in this letter from Philip Legerdumain, superintendent of the Insane Asylum of the State of Louisiana.
Here we have the July 12, 1900 edition of the Daily Picayune, which announces – amongst articles such as ‘Cat Saves Lives of Ten Persons in Burning House’ – that a corpse was found sealed in a New Orleans mansion that was formerly owned by pirate Samuel Burgess, who is said to have hidden treasure there. At the time of the article’s writing, the house was owned by one M. Bellocq Bellamy who purchased it as a gift to his bride, Necrissa. This house holds plenty of mysteries!
The Daily Picayune is printed on both sides an includes many great vintage advertisements. Maybe some of them are also clues…?
This side has a lavishly illustrated article about near-death experiences that was really interesting to read, but ink stains from the printing press obscure certain details. I hope it’s not anything important!
This envelope addressed to ‘my clever friend’ was sealed in wax.
It contained a note and calling card from Lady Delaney. She writes about the dollhouse and its connection to the “strange events here in 1923.”
Next up are the rolled plans for ‘a large and elegant residence for sale in the French Quarter’ of New Orleans. (Actually, it contains instructions for putting together the dollhouse.)
This appears to be an artist’s brush used for oil painting. Mystery story aside, this looks really cool.
Norman’s Quick-drying Goo – Value $0.82? (a suspiciously similar item is $3.29 for 4)
I love the label of this goo! I do secretly suspect it’s a different brand, but I love the creative labeling that keeps it in character with the rest of the box.
This little stack of wood and paper arrived packed in straw. When I opened the box, the first thing I noticed was the scent of the straw and wood varnish.
The pieces are stamped with letters that correspond to the layout on the floor plan, so it’s easy to slot together.
These are the graphics for the sides of the dollhouse. I cut them out and applied them using the goo.
Here’s the completed dollhouse! It has three stories and is about 11″ tall by 8.5″ wide. Note that this is smaller than the dollhouses you might have played with as a child. I love the size because it makes a nice shelf decoration for October. The pieces slot together for easy assembly, which also makes the house easy to take apart and store.
Right now it looks pretty drab indoors, but I think future boxes will have things to liven up the inside.
Note that mysterious figure loitering about on the ground floor…
You might think it’s odd to use a dollhouse to solve a mystery, but this technique has actually been used in real life! The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death were a series of miniature dioramas of crime scenes that were created by a forensic scientist in the 1930s. I’m not sure if it was an influence on this box or not, but it was the first thing I thought of when I first heard about this subscription.
Another cool thing is that when you look up the building on Google maps, you can see that the dollhouse is a good likeness of a real building!
The last item to explore was this little box tied with twine.
The box contains some kind of shredded document or letter, and some other little trinkets. The button catching the light in the photo is actual mother of pearl!
This must be a bone from the corpse that was discovered in the old mansion!
Verdict: This was one of the most unique box openings I’ve ever experienced. The physical clues make the story feel immersive. There’s a great attention to detail – everything feels vintage and in character. There’s a lot of entertainment value here, with plenty to read and the DIY project of assembling the dollhouse. This first box did a good job of introducing the story and providing the background for future clues and investigation.
This is a pretty expensive subscription, and I can’t make a guess yet about the value since I imagine this first box with the dollhouse is probably the most elaborate parcel in the subscription. I do think it’s off to a great start and am really looking forward to discovering more about the mystery in the coming weeks.
I believe this subscription runs once or twice a year, so if you miss it this time, there’ll be a chance to do it again. However, October sign-ups are still open on their website.
What do you think of this first installment of The Case of the Haunted Dollhouse?