Doll Bones by Holly Black
Published by Random House Children's Publishers UK
4th July 2013
Twelve-year-old Zach is too old to play with toys. Or at least, that's what his father thinks.
But even though he stops hanging out with Poppy and Alice, stops playing with his action figures, it's no good. There's one toy that still wants to play with him. A doll that's made from the bones of a dead girl.
The only way to end the game is to lay the doll to rest forever. It's time for a journey to Spring Grove cemetery. It's time to grow up.
A chilling ghost story by the bestselling author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black.
Poppy set down one of the mermaid dolls close to the stretch of asphalt road that represented the Blackest Sea. They were old - bought from Goodwil - with big shiny heads, different-coloured tails, and frizzy hair.
Zachary Barlow could almost imagine their fins lashing back and forth as they waited for the boat to get closer, their silly plastic smiles hiding their lethal intentions. They'd crash the ship against the shallows if they could, lure the crew into the sea, and eat the pirates with their jagged teeth.
Zachary rummaged through his bag of action figures. He pulled out the pirate with the two cutlasses and placed him gently at the center of the boat-shaped paper they'd weighed down with driveway gravel. Without gravel, the Neptune's Pearl was likely to blow away in the early autumn wind. He could almost believe he wasn't on the scrubby lawn in front of Poppy's ramshackle house with the sagging sideing, but aboard a real ship, with salt spray stinging his face, on his way to adventure.
Following on from the success of The Spiderwick Chronicles comes this new tale from Holly Black, and I must admit, for a children's book, it's quite creepy! Best friends Zach, Poppy and Alice love playing adventure stories with their dolls, that is until Zach's dad comes back and tells him he's too old to do that anymore. The only problem is, Zach must continue the game, because one of the dolls has started speaking to them, she's made up of the bones of a real girl and won't rest until she is buried properly.
This story starts out innocently enough, the three friends meet and play regularly and plan at school what is going to happen next in the game. It's interesting because whilst the activities described here are possibly to be associated with children of a much younger age, this story in parts, is all about growing up, and if or when, playing has to end.
Once the 'Great Queen' doll starts to tell her story though, the book does get quite dark. I felt a bit freaked out by the thought of a doll made from a real person but there's a reason behind it all. The problem for the three friends is, though, can they get her to Spring Grove cemetery so that they can end her misery, or will it all end in disaster?
This is a well-written book that kept me turning the pages. Definitely for the 9 and up age group though!