Doll Bones by Holly Black, paperback novel, 244 pages, first published by Doubleday in 2013, this edition published by Corgi in 2014.
Best friends, Zach, Alice and Poppy have made up a fantastical world that they play out with dolls and figurines. The Queen in this world is a very old, fine bone china doll, that is kept displayed behind glass at Poppy’s house. When Zach unexpectedly refuses to play the game any more, Poppy and Alice remove the Queen from the cabinet, discovering that she is full of what appears to be some ashes. Poppy dreams that the Queen was really a girl called Eleanor Kercher who died in 1895, and she wants Poppy to return her to her grave. This quest leads Poppy, Alice and Zach on an interstate adventure, as they try to placate Eleanor, and fulfill her last desire.
Doll Bones is an adventure ghost story, and it is also a coming of age story. Zach, Poppy and Alice are pre-teens still playing out the fantasy game of their childhood. Becoming haunted by the spirit of a lost and angry little girl trapped inside a doll, is the last true adventure of their childhood, as they move towards more teenagerish past-times. They embark on an epic quest into regions unknown in the middle of the night by themselves, vastly unprepared for such a journey. Add in a creepy doll, vivid dreams, unexplained occurences and misadventures, and you have a spooky tale indeed.
This would be a good book for middle and upper primary school students to read, especially those that like a good ghost story. I thought the story was okay, but nothing spectacular. It was an easy read, and interesting enough, but I didn’t find it gripping. I am putting that down to the fact that as an adult I like a good horror or mystery story, and spooky stories for children just aren’t spooky enough for me! Having said that, I always take photos of the books I review to add to the post, and I took photos of this book, transferred them to the computer, but when I went to add one to this review, the photos were all blank! That’s a little creepy coincidence…
I hope that my second grader will give Doll Bones a read so I can get a true child’s perspective on the story. The story did flow well, and the character’s personalities really came through from the story, so it was a good book that I think many children would enjoy.