Doll Bones by Holly Black
♦publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
♦release date: May 7th, 2013
♦hardcover, 244 pages
♦intended audience: Middle grade
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 – who claims that it is 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 . . .
Review: A doll, a murder and a mystery to be solved. When Captain William the Blade, of the Neptune Pearl and Lady Jayne, a thief who began her travels with the captain after a misfortunate pick pocketing incident, set out on an epic adventure, they had no idea it would be their last.
With dolls purchased at goodwill, blacktop that represents the sea, a boat shaped piece of paper and an incredible imagination, Zach, Poppy and Alice make a story come to life. Each child creating a character of their own to take their place on the Neptune Pearl, full of thieves, pirates and even a mermaids curse. The Neptune Pearl is perfectly hidden in a world that only they know about. The game is hidden from friends at school and even their parents, they all secretly know that they are too old to play with dolls. Unable to give up the allure of the game and despite their reservations, the game continues, quickly turning into an epic journey that spills into their real lives.
When Zach, Poppy and Alice decide to bring the "Queen" doll into their game, their make believe adventure suddenly becomes real. The children know to never touch the priceless old porcelain doll in the china cabinet but they never knew why. The Queen represented an ancient honor and time that has gone by. Wasting away in a china cabinet, the doll beckoned to be played with. So when a tragic and a seemingly ordinary event happened, the Queen doll and her ghostly tale soon unfolds before the children. Once they remove her from her cabinet something sinister starts to happen. The children need to quickly figure out if the doll is just a doll, or if it contains the ghost of a murdered girl.
One thing is clear, the Queen doll has a motive and that is to lay her to rest. As they set out on the journey to fulfill her request an epic adventure ensues. Although soon enough, Zach, Poppy and Alice realize adventuring wasn’t what they thought it would be. In story books, real adventurers didn’t need supplies, a chartered path, or a plan. Instead, the children quickly find themselves cold and exposed to the elements, with adults chasing them at every stop and quickly running out of money on a stolen boat sailing for their lives. But the Queen doll won’t let them stop until they have done what she wants them to do.
Holly Black, author of The Spiderwick Chronicles once again captures her reader’s hearts in a classic ghost story for readers of all ages. A great way to introduce young readers to a ghost story.