Mysterious things that unfold with multiple mailings are all the rage, but some are infinitely better than others. Personally, I find those that include a murder with a nice spatter of blood to be among the more interesting. If there's insanity involved, so much the better.
And thus we have The Haunted Dollhouse, a subtle tale of horror which takes place almost a century ago in New Orleans, and which is reliant upon you to do your part: you have to build the house. And there are puzzles to solve, as well, which reveal a narrative of misfortune and murder. What is that enormous bloodstain on the carpet in the parlor?
The pieces come delivered in four packages over the course of a month, each box containing items both small and large. When you've put in your time with a straight edge, X-Acto knife, small scissors, and the imaginatively titled "goo," the end result is a miniature doll house that bears witness to a story of death, madness, and murder which occurred in 1923.
Numerous letters, newspaper articles, postcards, and miniature items (I'm quite fond of the bloody pair of scissors) to decorate said house come within the packages, all of which taken together with the house provide clues to a mystery.
Who killed who? Who's dead? Who's alive? Who's nuts? Your recreation of the crime scene and the many pieces of evidence lead you down a curious path to the truth. When you have gathered sufficient evidence and puzzled it out, an online portfolio is revealed that, like a crystal ball, answers some questions. Some answers evidently must remain with the dead.
The packages are being sent from 1933 by a certain Lady Delaney. Ms. Delaney seems to exist simultaneously in multiple time periods, since she is also making fantastical miniature doodads of all sorts today and selling them on Etsy. The miniatures are exquisite, and some like the Explorer's Desk are highly detailed and chock-a-block with cool stuff.
That's an expensive one, but the Human Bone Museum Display is only $24 some of your guests might find it quite alarming. It's remarkably tiny.
L. Delaney is either a very old yet remarkably well preserved alchemist or the very talented Lauren Delaney George, who currently has a tiny library inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest on display at the National Building Museum here in Washington, DC until January 22.
Ms. George is also the author of the upcoming book All Dolled Up, which she describes as "… not the story of a well-behaved paper doll!" Naughty paper dolls? It comes out February 15 and can be ordered in advance.
Back to our central mystery: A new mailing of The Haunted Dollhouse will next begin in February, with packages sent out over the course of that month, and you can pre-order the experience now. You're invited … at a small price. Sending it to a friend who is easily creeped-out but likes DIY projects and puzzles would be fun.
In the meantime, I would hide both the scissors and the matches from mischievous hands. The Haunted Dollhouse has taught me that the scissors can end up embedded in someone's skull, and it's easy to burn down a house.