Review Detail

4.0 2
Middle Grade Fiction 81
Undeniably Creepy Yet Tear-Jerkingly Heartwarming
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Each time I went to my Great Grandma Lucy’s house, I never dared go into the guest room. That’s where her collection of dolls stared at you so intently it looked like they could climb right into your soul. After reading Holly Black’s marvelously creepy “Doll Bones,” I think it was best I stayed out of that room.

“Doll Bones” follows Zach, Alice, and Poppy, three BFFs who’ve bonded over their very imaginative afterschool games. The story begins with Zach’s dad telling the boy it’s time to grow up and hang around with guys his own age. Some spooky powers-that-be have different ideas, however. Poppy is visited by a ghost inhabiting one of her mother’s dolls, and this supernatural visitor puts the three kids together on a spectral road trip that will have to delay the cease-and-desist date for the children’s adventures.

I was really impressed by Black’s ability to make this book feel so realistic and contemporary while simultaneously maintaining an otherworldly tone. Zach, Poppy, and Alice are so relatable in their move from tweendom to their teen years, as they worry about popularity, the opposite sex, and the stresses of growing up. Imagine dealing with all of that while having a ghost demand you do her a favor! Despite having no supernatural experience of my own to back this up, it felt like Black accurately captures how this paranormal problem would affect those coming-of-age struggles.

What I loved most about “Doll Bones” is that this story is so much more than what it appears. On the surface, this is a story about a group of kids who are being haunted by a ghost. As the story unfolds, you see it’s really about the hardships haunting these children’s lives. While Zach, Poppy, and Alice confront the challenge this ghost has presented, they also confront the ghosts in their own lives, giving this book the best mix of undeniably creepy and tear-jerkingly heartwarming moments. The sudden shift between these conflicting emotions keeps you on your toes and turning the pages. Once you turn that last page, “Doll Bones” will haunt you in the best way!
Good Points
The perfect blend between creepy and touching.
Relatable protagonists moving from their tween to teen years.
A supernatural twist to the coming-of-age story.
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September 01, 2013
I think I read a negative review for this one a while ago, so I'd kind of written it off. I'm glad to see a glowing review for it since I love middle grade and all the better if it's creepy. :D
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