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Doll Bones: 08/12/13

cover art

Doll Bones is by Holly Black is a standalone Gothic adventure for tweens. Long time friends, Zach, Poppy and Alice go on a quest to put the Great Queen to rest.

Zach, Poppy and Alice have been playing a complicated adventure story using their collected dolls, action figures and other toys, for years. Ruling over all of them is the Great Queen, an antique doll kept in a class display case in Poppy's home. Their adventure is put on hold when Zach's father throws out all his toys in the hope of helping him grow up. Poppy, trying to keep Zach as part of the game, brings out the Great Queen. And that's when the ghost appears.

The doll is made from bone china — and the bones used were those of a little girl who died tragically. Her hair was used for the doll's hair and her ashes serve as stuffing. And she wants to be put to rest.

It's not so much that the other two children believe Poppy but it's a chance for one last adventure. There are enough clues pointing to a near by town — one accessible by over night bus. What should be an easy (but tiring) trip, soon goes awry. The closer they get, the more the ghost seems to be calling the shots.

From the very first chapter, I adored Doll Bones. Zach, Poppy and Alice are credible (though not always likable) characters. The trip to East Liverpool, Ohio while altered for dramatic effect is still bound enough in real life geography and history to make their trip seem all the more real. Finally, the adults in the story aren't just villains — they are real people too who do have the children's best interests at heart even when they don't have the full picture.

My all time favorite part of the book comes near the end of the second third. The kids find shelter in a library and their misadventures there had me roaring with laughter. Holly Black knows how libraries work even behind the scenes and at times when they're not open to the library.

Five stars

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