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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 1 May 2013
I loved reading creepy books when I was a kid - my shelf was full of Goosebumps and all its random ripoffs before I moved on to Point Horror and finally grown up stuff like Stephen King - I think it is safe to say that Doll Bones would have been quite at home on my shelf.

Delightfully dark, it takes you on a quest to discover the truth behind a delicate bone china doll where the three main characters learn about themselves and each other and how the world works outside of their usual bubble.

An imaginative trio who make up adventures for their collections of action figures and dolls, Zach, Poppy and Alice are best friends until Zach's father throws away all of his action figures and can't get them back.

Zach tries to quit the game but something odd brings them back together. The china doll they call The Queen suddenly starts appearing in Poppy's dreams as a real girl. A girl who claims the doll is made from her own bones and needs to be returned to her grave to be with her parents.

Zach and Alice are dubious at first, Poppy is a willful character who probably wouldn't be above making things up to get Zach back in the game but then Zach starts getting the dreams too and it all gets a bit too real.

Fast paced and exciting, I raced through this novel without wanting to put it down. The characters were bold and funny and the settings were deep and real, told from the perspective of lost and freaked out almost-teenagers, making the whole thing totally immersive.

Interspersed with beautiful illustrations which added to the sinister story, Doll Bones is a wonderful example of how horror is for children too - it is scary and creepy but has enough comedy and a feel-good ending that it won't leave anyone traumatised.

Very satisfying and great fun to read as an adult, too.
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on 22 July 2014
China dolls, creepy looking china dolls. Oh yes, I know what they are like. This book made me remember being a young child and being afraid of a porcelain doll that sounded similar to the doll in the book. This doll sat in a cupboard at my Nana's house and everytime I got sent to the cupboard to get something one eye open would watch me. I remember my heart hammering in my chest.

Doll Bones is about many things, an adventure, friendship, maturing and a ghost. Three children Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for a long time, they play many imaginary games together and all have a spirit of adventure in them. One night, Zach is woken from his sleep by the girls, Poppy is convinced the doll came to her in a dream and is now haunting them. They must do what the doll asks or bad things will happen.

In the middle of the night they start their adventure to give the doll the peace she is asking for, creepy things happen to them on the way, shivers and feelings that can't be explained, dreams of the ghost of the little girl, apparently her bones were ground up to make the porcelain of the doll (this is why it's called bone china). They must set all of this right.

It's a middle grade coming of age story as well as an adventure, it was a lot less creepy than I expected, I think I had higher hopes for some good old spooky stuff. The illustrations in the book are really well done and add a touch of atmosphere. I think a bit more creepiness would have sat really well with me as a reader, but I also have to think would I have enjoyed this book as a middle grade reader and yes I would have.

As they go on their journey with THE QUEEN (the china doll) they discover new things about themselves, their friendship, their feelings, their courage and their fears. All of this is intertwined with some strange goings-on around the doll, she is with them all the way.

It's a ghost story for sure, not sure if it would scare the middle grade reader much or not, but it's a lot of fun.
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I Am not really the type of person to try new books, but whilst walking through Waterstones, This book caught my eye. I was looking for a book to read, (having finished skulduggery pleasant - Yiu should read Skulduggery Pleasant too, It is absolute GENIUS.) and this book seemed to stand out. The cover was my sort of thing, as I'm into dark horror themed books, and, as all blurbs should, the blurb really enticed me.

The book is a strange little thing, very odd, and unlike the sort of thing I have read before, but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Once showing the book to my cousin, she too bought it, and loves it too. I would really enjoy a second book, and I'm sure Holly Black's genius would be able to find a strange but exciting way of connecting the story.

This book did not get five stars, however, because, unfortunately I don't feel it completely lived up to its scary image. There were times, when I put the book face down of my bed, as if the doll could pull herself out of the cover, but I would of enjoyed a few more sinister twists.

All in all I really enjoyed this book, and even if your not one for horror, it's also perfect for adventure - theme lovers, because of the amazing adventure three friends embark upon together.
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on 7 June 2014
I received a copy of Doll Bones from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

I'm always on the look out for books for my kids and for the school reading group, with that in mind I picked up Doll Bones.

The story revolves around Zach, Poppy and Alice, three children on the cusp of growing up but still hanging onto that innocence of childhood. It's a tale of friendship, adventure, mystery and what turns out to be a somewhat creepy, life changing quest for the three of them.

This was a cute story with a creepy atmospheric undertow, the tale was nicely balanced with just enough atmosphere and hints at scares to trigger any childs imagination without scaring them too much.

I really had fun reading this one, it reminded me of the books that made me fall in love with reading when I was young. It took me back to the days of hiding under my covers with my torch, reading a scary book while listening out for any noises outside the safety of my bedcovers. And brought back all those memories of getting lost in adventure and magic the way that only a child could.

I would definately recommend this one and I'm adding it to the reading group list myself first thing Monday morning.
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on 1 January 2014
I'm not massively familiar with Holly Black's books - I've read a grand total of one before - but reading this made me really want to go through her back catalogue.

Doll Bones is deliciously creepy - perfectly pitched for the target audience. There's an underlying sense of spookiness without it becoming too much - a find line to walk, and Holly Black walks it beautifully. Dolls themselves are pretty much horrible enough, but there are some genuinely spooky moments, with visions that only some people can see, destroyed campsites and exploring an empty library.

Of course, there's plenty that middle grade readers will relate to, as well, with themes about growing up and friendship that broke up the mild horror tension to prevent it from becoming too much. The characters were great, well realised and played off each other nicely. The adventure was just big enough to be incredible without being unbelievable.

In fact, this book is less about the fantastical, and more about the hidden `horror' of normal situations - the fear of growing up, of asking a girl you like to the cinema, of overprotective carers and loss.

All in all, it was a haunting, atmospheric book that perfectly blended spooky haunting horror with a few elements that the target audience will find frightening in their every day lives. A really enjoyable quick read, with lovely illustrations to boot.
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on 24 September 2013
Doll Bones is for children who enjoy a good scare. It is the story of 3 friends, Zach, Poppy and Alice. They are united in their love of playing and together their creativity and imagination know no bounds. They use action figures as the characters that feature in their stories. I actually loved reading about their play adventures. Poppy's mum owns an antique doll that is made of bone china which sits in a glass cabinet in her house. She is not supposed to touch it as it is considered to be valuable. There is something spooky about the doll and the children find it creepy. Sometimes Zach gets the impression it is watching him and is sure he has seen its eyes move by themselves. It features at the centre of their games as a powerful queen to be feared and respected and this helps to appease their fears (if they respect the doll it won't come after them).

Now that the friends are 12 they are increasingly under pressure to stop playing with toys. Zach plays basketball and fears that his friends will find out about it and make fun of him. His father, who he has a difficult relationship with, is annoyed with him for hanging on to his toys. One day he goes into Zach's room and takes the toys away, throwing them in the garbage. Zach is horrified when he finds out and tries to get them back without success. This leaves him both sad and angry at everyone around him. He decides to deal with it by telling Poppy and Alice that he doesn't want to play anymore. He argues that they are too old and need to grow up. They are surprised by this sudden change in Zach and are disappointed in him.

Zach distances himself from the girls and starts hanging out with boys his own age, doing stuff that boys his age are expected to do (video games etc.). One night while in bed he hears tapping at his window. At first he is too spooked to check it out but it persists so he has to investigate. He looks out and sees Poppy and Alice outside beckoning him to join them. He follows them to a secret hideout and Poppy reveals to him that she has been visited by the ghost of a little girl who has given Poppy a task she cannot refuse. Poppy's mother's doll was made from the bones of the little girl who died when she was about their age and she needs it to be buried with her if she is ever to rest in peace. Poppy wants Zach and Alice to help her accomplish this. It involves travelling to a town in Ohio where the girl's body is buried. Although Zach doesn't believe the ghost story, he sees this as an opportunity to get away from his father and considers not coming back. He make a bargain with the girls to go with them if they agree to stop asking him why he does no want to play anymore or involve him in the adventures they used to make up together. They agree and set out on their journey...

For me Doll Bones is about that pivotal point in a child's life when they have to let go of their childhood and accept young adulthood. Zach is not ready and he feels a sense of shame because of it. I think this is why he is so angry and does not want to tell Poppy and Alice what really happened. It's too embarrassing to speak of. It resonated with me because I was just like Zach at that age.

You would be hard-pressed to find a better contemporary writer of Children/YA fiction than Holly Black. She is magnificent.
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on 4 January 2015
A ghost story for young adults about obsession and repression surrounding a scary looking doll in a cabinet. The three youngsters set out on a quest to release the doll from limbo on earth. In doing so, they release themselves from their perceived parental tyranny and the confines of childhood and learn how friendship is unlimited when pushed. This book is intelligently written and wise in the ways of teenage angst. Immensely enjoyable.
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on 3 September 2015
This was a strange little book and I honestly do not know what to make of it. I can’t even decide if I liked it or disliked. I am most definiently sat on the fence, and let me tell you it is an uncormfortable place to be.

A lot of the creepiness in Doll Bones is down to the reader’s intreptation. Did the doll really move and talk or is Poppy just extremely good at telling a story? It is a difficult one to decide afterall it was their imagination which brought the three friends together and it is this imagination that propels the story forward.

Afterall the trio are twelve, almost at the age when imagination and playing becomes too childish, is this an attempt to maintain their game? To hold on to their last moments of childhood?

Doll Bones manages to be a delightful and entertaining story, but somehow I can’t find myself enchanted with it.
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on 28 December 2014
I want to start this review by thanking Holly Black the Author and NetGalley for allowing me to read this book. I gave the book 5 stars out of five because I loved the premiss of the story and felt that I connected with the three main characters.

Holly's writing was fantastic and the development of the characters made the story really immersive. I found the fact that the doll was possessed by the spirit of a dead girl from the 1800's who just wanted to be put to rest by being buried in her home town.

The three main characters, children 2 girls and the a boy, were really believable and I connected with all of them in different way but particularly with one of the girls. I loved the fact that the kids although they were in middle school were still playing with dolls and action figures which they were using to make up quest based games. It was great that this was actually transferred in to their real life when they travelled to the home town of the doll girl to lay her to rest.

This is a book that I will read again as well as recommend it to others and buy it as a gift for people.
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Review: Zach is twelve years old- far too old to be playing with toys, as his father tells him. Reluctantly, he tries to stop playing with the toys, and with Poppy and Alice. But when Alice has a dream, telling her that the Queen, a doll made from bone china using the bones of a dead girl, wants burying in her hometown, and says she's going to do it regardless, Zach joins her and Poppy for one final game.
I hadn't heard of this book before I got sent it for review, but the cover and premise made it sound good.
I like the games they play before the plot picks up. These children are really imaginative, creating a full fantasy land. There's a lot of character development from all three characters. Zach especicailly- he grows up a lot more on the journey than he would have if he had simply allowed his father to forbid him from the toys and games, which I suppose is the moral of the story.
The adventure is really good. It's a little unbelievable to me that that a 12 year old would be allowed on buses and across counties without parental supervision, but hey, we also have the spirit of a girl demanding to be laid to rest, so suspension of belief allows me to buy into all of it. There's a bit of history and mystery, and the plot comes to a nice end.
I think compared to the blurb, the horror of the novel is downplayed to make Doll Bones a coming of age story-there's a lot about how old you have to be to do things, and also about family and keeping the imagination going.

Overall: Strength 4 tea to a creepy coming of age story.
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