The Doll’s Revenge, A Chinese Urban Legend


When Aunty Mei entered her hotel room, she saw a pretty doll lying on the ground. Without telling anyone, Aunty Mei planned to secretly take the doll back home as a present for her 10-year-old daughter. That night, a girl in her dream told Aunty Mei that she couldn’t find her shoes, and she insisted that Aunty Mei let her wear Aunty Mei’s shoes instead. Unable to think it through due to a long day’s travel, Aunty Mei said yes and fell back to sleep.

Aunty Mei woke up the next morning and found her shoes disappeared, as she looked closely, she saw the doll was wearing a pair of shoes just like hers, but smaller in size. The more she thought about it the more it dreaded her, so Aunty Mei checked out of the hotel at once, leaving the doll behind.

Having been tired both physically and mentally, Aunty Mei fell asleep again on the train. She dreamed of a child’s voice whispering to her: “Aunty Mei, why wouldn’t you take me home? I love your clothes, I must wear them.” The moment the voice finished talking, Aunty Mei felt something crawling up her knees. Aunty Mei tried to get rid of it but this thing would not let go. Aunty Mei woke up in horror and could still hear a child giggling. To her surprise, that doll from the hotel rested on her knees. Aunty Mei checked her suitcase and found that the pink dress she bought yesterday was now gone. Apparently, the doll’s pink dress was Aunty Mei’s originally. Aunty Mei furiously threw the doll out of the train’s window and locked the window up.

After a short while of relief, a business partner rang her for an emergent meeting in the city she just left. Aunty Mei had to get off at the nearest station and wait for the next train heading back. Out of nowhere, a weeping girl bumped into her and asked if Aunty Mei could take her to her mom.

Aunty Mei searched the area but couldn’t see a woman looking for her daughter. Aunty Mei then decided to stay for the night and brought the girl with her to a local hotel. The girl kissed on Aunty Mei’s cheek, but the lips were cold.

That night Aunty Mei dreamed of a girl in her arms. She tried to get rid of her but the girl’s arms were around her neck, and the harder she tried, the tighter the girl held onto her. On the next morning when the hotel’s staff checked on her, Aunty Mei was already strangled to death. But instead of a girl, a doll in pink dress was found in her arms.

When investigating the case, the police examined Aunty Mei’s personal belongings and found a notebook that listed all the children Aunty Mei trafficked for the past two years. As for why Aunty Mei mysteriously died in a hotel room, the police couldn’t answer.


The informant is a 26-year-old female who was born and raised in China. The informant first heard the story of the doll from her lower school classmates, and the story was extraordinarily horrifying to her because every girl in her friend circle kept a doll then. In retrospect, she focuses more on the story’s mention of child trafficking instead of its horrifying plots and motifs.


For the past few decades, child trafficking has been a serious social crisis in China and the story of the revengeful doll possibly circulated among the informants’ age group as a cautionary tale to warn them of child trafficking. It made sense that the majority of the narrative focuses on horrifying motifs such as a mysterious doll, dreams influencing reality, and a giggling girl coming out of nowhere. These motifs help create an emotionally impactful, dreadful ambiance only to foreshadow a plot twist by the end of the story, where the intended message finally unveils itself. Besides aiming towards and warning its targeted audience, young girls (who are the most likely victims of child trafficking), the story also provides reassurance featuring karma, as the villain being punished by the revengeful doll satisfies its audience’s need for justice. Despite the revenge is not procedurally just, the end of the story reflects what the folk believes to be the villain’s deserved fate asserting the concept of karma, which is culturally significant to many Chinese people.