5.22.2014

Review: Doll Bones by Holly Black






Title: Doll Bones
Author: Holly Black
Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler
Publication Date: May 7th, 2013
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderberry Books
Genre: Middle Grade Mystery
Pages: 247
Awards: Newbery Honor (2014), Carnegie Medal Nominee for YA (2014)
Source: Purchased from B&N

Rating:

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
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 . . .


 




Holly Black is a best-selling author of contemporary fantasy novels for kids, teens, and adults. She is the author of the Modern Faerie Tale series (Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside), The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), and The Good Neighbors graphic novels (with Ted Naifeh) The Poison Eaters and Other Stories, a collection of short fiction, and The Curse Worker series (White Cat, Red Glove, and Black Heart). She is also the co-editor of three anthologies, Geektastic (with Cecil Castellucci), Zombies vs. Unicorns (with Justine Larbalestier), and Welcome to Bordertown (with Ellen Kushner). Her most recent works are the middle grade novel, Doll Bones, and the dark fantasy stand-alone, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.


She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret library.


How deliciously creepy is the cover of this book?? Oh my goodness, I kept passing it at the book store and finally decided to buy it! It also helped that it had a "Newbery Honor" sticker on the front, too. And the part where it says "New York Times best-selling author and co-creator of The Spiderwick Chronicles."Basically, the entire cover worked in Holly Black's favor. Well played, Miss Black, and kudos to your talented illustrator, Eliza Wheeler.

Doll Bones is an adorably sinister book with just the perfect mixture of creepy and innocence to keep a reader hanging on for the ride. It isn't necessarily a children's horror book, but more so a story of friends who are making the transition from adolescence to young adulthood. 

I don't want to give the wrong idea by saying "horror" because this book isn't scary, but rather creepy [at times]. I was actually hoping for a little more creepiness, but for the young mind who likes mystery and perhaps has a weak tolerance for things that may give them nightmares, this is a good selection. The doll in this book is sinister and ghostly, but the "scary" factor is fairly minimal. Just don't let your kid read it in the dark.

The main character, Zach, was more developed than the two girls as the book is written from his point of view. And although people said it was difficult to tell Poppy and Alice apart, I digress. Poppy was more of a tomboy with an unfettered creative spirit, while Alice was much more genteel, feminine, and way less adventurous (I often questioned if she was at all). For the most part, the characters were believable with their dispositions and angst and their interactions reminded me of all the make-believe I used to play with my friends during my childhood.

The only other thing I would complain about is that there were a couple spelling errors I had caught. Minimal, but they were still there. This seems to be more common these days, and with all the technology and editors we have out there, it really shouldn't be.

I enjoyed this book, not necessarily for richness of content, but for the sentimentality of watching the characters grow. The Queen played her part well, too, but I definitely don't want her visiting my dreams!