Tuesday, March 26, 2013

REVIEW: Doll Bones by Holly Black

Title:                       Doll Bones
Author:                   Holly Black 
Release Date:      May 7/2013
Genre:                Middle Grade Paranormal
Publisher:           Margaret K. McElderry
Page Count:        256
Acquired:            NetGalley
Format:              Ebook
Read From:         March 20/2013
Goodreads:         ADD
Purchase:           Amazon/Indigo/The Book Depository

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...


Okay, before I even start, can we all please take a few minutes to STARE at the cover of this book!?Because, REALLY, have you ever bared witness to such fantastic-ness!? I've said it before, and I'll say it a million times more: Middle Grade covers are a constant WIN. The genre is a magnet to SO many talented artists, I just..I can't even. The artist that designed the cover for Doll Bones, illustrator/author Elize Wheeler, can be found here. PLEASE check her out!

I'm gonna go ahead an say it: I've never read a Holly Black book before this. UGH, I KNOW. There was always the intention to get to the Spiderwick Chronicles, and I WILL, I promise. Add to that the extra guilt I feel because I use to work at a bookstore, and had the ability to buy/borrow them whenever I want. *SIGH* I have no excuses. But yes, Doll Bones. Let me discuss the many ways this book made me grin like a crazy person, and dizzy with nostalgia. 

The book opening: EPIC. The three main characters are submersed in a role-playing game involving mermaids and pirates. Enough said. I was already hooked. Zach, Poppy and Alice have been best friends since childhood, but we meet them as they are about to enter the delicate transitional period from child to young teen. The story unfolds through the perspective of Zach, as he struggles to find a balance between growing up, and staying loyal to his friends, and the world that they've built through playing their adventure game. The "Queen" of this world happens to be a bone-china doll that sits untouched, and locked behind a display cabinet in Alice's house. After an unfortunate, and interesting turn of events that has them questioning the solidity of their friendship, the trio embark on an adventure fueled by the "fact" that the china doll is actually made up of the crushed up bones of a young girl murdered by her father. A young girl who now, thanks to a special appearance in Alice's dreams, wants her bones/the doll to be buried in her grave a few towns over.

Doll Bones is the epitome of Middle Grade fiction, and THEN some. The "then some" being the added touch of spook/creepiness that I've read that Miss Black is famous for.The characters were dynamic, and realistic and could have very well been me at 14 years old. I loved the conflict caused by such innocence and inevitability-the confusion of wanting to grow up and do "cool" things, but not being quite ready to turn off your childhood imagination. It was possibly the most perfect age/period to write these characters at. They were conflicted on the inside, but also outwardly, at each other. Throughout the entire story, there were moments of interaction and dialogue where Zach, Poppy or Alice questions the others thoughts/motives, or expresses disbelief at how much the other is "changing who they use to be." Doll Bones is essentially a story about growing up, and the fear that you might be doing it faster or slower than everyone else around you. It was comforting, and it was familiar. I wanted to keep every line of this book inside of my head forever.

The story line was spectacularly written, and I was surprised at how I literally got chills from the creepy parts. So much of it was written subtly, but the possibility of it made me shudder in the best ways. The AMAZING artwork inside was an added bonus. I think I spent MINUTES just staring at every detail of the lines, the shadows, in complete awe and appreciation. I'm SO glad I finally read something by Holly Black, and cannot WAIT to get my hands on ANYTHING else she's ever written.

Recommended for fans of: Goosebumps (books & tv show), Are You Afraid of the Dark, paranormal, coming of age, and EPIC Middle Grade fiction. 


  1. Curse you for making me want to read this, the first Middle-grade I'll be reading since "Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes....because, I too, am not ready to turn off my childhood imagination...LOL

    1. YES!! Score one for me! =) You won't regret it, I swear.

  2. Long time sincce I read a middle grade, BUT it's not going to be long before my granddaughter gets to that point and (maybe) reads to me. Agree with you on cover - quite eye catching.

    1. You should definitely let this book be your reintroduction to the genre Andrew! Or even have it on hand so your granddaughter CAN read it to you! It really is a wonderful book.

  3. Thank you for a great review. My daughter is 11 and loves reading so I am always looking for new books for her. I am definitely adding this to her list.

    1. OH you are MORE than welcome, it was my pleasure to write to it. I love that I was able to help find you both a new book to enjoy, because you should definitely read it after she does! =)

  4. Well, I need to get this book ASAP. I hadn't even realized that there was a new Holly Black book out there. You really should read Spiderwick (but stay AWAY from the movie. FAR FAR AWAY. It was awful.)

    I totally agree with you about MG cover art - and the stories themselves. Seriously happy to have met you online with that random Christopher Moore tweet I wrote. :)

    1. CAT! You are THE sweetest thing. I'm SO happy we met too! You are like my kindred spirit =).

      You really DO need to get to this ASAP though. I believe it's still available for request on NetGalley! I am definitely on track to read Spiderwick now, buying them with the next paycheque ;) lol.

  5. Great review! I love Holly Black books. I have not heard of this one but it sounds creepy and great. I am putting it on my TBR list. The china doll thing sounds so creepy.

  6. This sounds awesomeeee! Don't be embarrassed about the lack of Holly Black reading. I am right there with ya. I read her short story collection, but sadly, I'm not a short story fan. I own The Spiderwick Chronicles AND White Cat and still haven't read them. So, we are in it together haha. Love this review and all the descriptions of the creepiness and the theme of growing up versus keeping your childhood imagination!

  7. It sounds really awesome and creepy! I haven't read anything by Holly Black before, but I've heard some really good things about her writing. Hopefully I'll like this one. Middle-grade is almost always a win :D

  8. Yup, I agree, the cover is just fantastic. I've had my eye o this book from last year but haven't read it yet. Sounds amazing and loved the review.


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