Rag Doll Halloween and horror book artist and illustrator  Duncan Long

“Sad End for Rag Doll” by horror book artist / illustrator Duncan Long

Dolls are normally a cheerful toy that many a young child cherishes. Yet there’s something sort of spooky about their lifelike qualities of a doll, and it isn’t rate to see a child become a bit terrified when first being exposed the “uncanny valley” of human-like toys. Little wonder then that more than a few horror stories have employed a doll of one sort or anther to become the object that terrorizes rather than charm.

Voodoo dolls, ventriloquist dummies, and puppets of various sorts all become the stuff of nightmares for the writer or director wanting to spin a tale of horror. “Little Chucky, please don’t call home.” Little wonder then that more than a few books and movies have transformed an innocent doll into a monster that makes us jump and scream.

On the flip side, there can be a certain tragedy to a doll that is worn out (perhaps from the loving over-care of a child). A broken, threadbare doll becomes a stand-in for a broken human being, something pitiful and at the same time horrifying, a gentle reminder of age and decay and death for those who once played with toys. The broken toy seems the quiet metaphor that whispers quietly in the ear, “Thou art mortal.”

And that realization of mortality is perhaps the greatest fright of all.

Here are two more of my creations that hopefully will inspire a little shuddering and perhaps a chill up the spine or the realization that this life is finite and sometimes quite tragic:

A Marionette Named Martha horror book cover artwork by illustrator Duncan Long

“A Marionette Named Martha” by horror book cover illustrator Duncan Long

Devil Doll Halloween horror book artist and illustrator  Duncan Long

“The Devil Doll” by horror book artist and illustrator Duncan Long

Find more of Duncan Long’s horror and genre artwork for book and magazine covers at Artist / Illustrator Duncan Long’s Online Gallery of Horror and Fantasy Artwork