Doll Bones, by Holly Black

Doll BonesTitle: Doll Bones
Holly Black
Doubleday Childrens
Publication date: May 7th 2013
Pages: 247
ISBN: 9780857532671
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4.5/5
Buy at: BookDepository


Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice.
But one night the girls pay Zach a visit and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – which claims to be made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .

A chilling ghost story by the bestselling author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black.



(now just change that to “my childhood!” and you’ll
get the idea of what I felt reading this)

I know, I know, this is a horrible thing to confess, but the truth is that I haven’t read The Spiderwick Chronicles, or anything else by Holly Black, something I most definitely have to fix. I already had a feeling I had to, but Doll Bones made me sure of it.

At a first look, Doll Bones looks like a creepy story about a doll, but it so much more than that. It is a story about three prepubescent friends who are beginning to realise that adulthood is knocking at the door and demanding it to be open. For Zach it comes in the shape of his own father who decides to chuck his toys in the garbage because Zach is “too old for them”. Maybe because Zach then starts to avoid her under the pretence of not wanting to play anymore, or maybe because ghosts do exist, one of his friends, Poppy, deems that the Queen in their games, an old doll they had never touched, is haunted. It is up to them to find the doll’s resting place and bury her. Otherwise, they’ll be cursed forever. Their quest begins.

But the quest is not as exciting as they thought quests would be. There is a lot of walking and sweating. There are no fast horses or warlocks to guide them. There isn’t even some beautiful Middle Earth scenery to gape at. It’s just the three of them and the unknown path through back alleys and rivers. A path that includes hunger, thirst, sunburn, frightening strangers, and suspicious adults. A path too real to be fantastical, and yet with its fair share of reality grounded creepiness. Because surely, the doll must be haunted. Why else would the adults think it was a real girl?

This book is beautifully touching and a great read for children and “grown-ups” alike. It seamlessly eases the reader into the twelve-year-old mentality, that time when you want to hold onto childhood for a little longer, when you’re surprised and frightened that your peers are changing, and curious of what would happen if you were to change yourself. It perfectly recreates the feeling, and spices it with questions that are common to people of every age when looking at the future: “what if I let go of my dreams?”, “what if the world turns grey and I bitter?” It is a nostalgic, fun, and painful read. One that will stay with me for a while, especially that bittersweet ending.

In Doll Bones, Black melds elements of adventure, horror, and contemporary stories to create something extraordinary. Something that makes the reader shiver and smile as they drown in childhood memories. Something that tugs at the heartstrings. Something that beckons for change. If that isn’t beautiful, I don’t know what is.


The book in a quote

“It’s not fair. We had a story, and our story was important. And I hate that both of you can just walk away and take part of my story with you and not even care. I hate that you can do what you’re supposed to do and I can’t. I hate that you’re going to leave me behind. I hate that everyone calls it growing up, but it seems like dying. It feels like each of you is being possessed and I’m next.”


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