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Doll Bones

Doll Bones

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Doll Bones

4/5 (81 évaluations)
197 pages
3 heures
May 7, 2013


Discover the Newbery Honor winner Doll Bones, from Holly Black, the cocreator of the Spiderwick Chronicles. A Kirkus Reviews Best Book. A School Library Journal Best Book. A Booklist Editor’s Choice Books for Youth. A Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book. A NYPL “100 Titles for Reading and Sharing.” A 2013 Goodreads Choice award nominee. A People Magazine “Best New Kids Book.” Six starred reviews!

Winner of a 2014 Newbery Honor Medal.

Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been friends forever. And for almost as long, they’ve been playing one continuous, ever-changing game of pirates and thieves, mermaids and warriors. Ruling over all is the Great Queen, a bone-china doll cursing those who displease her.

But they are in middle school now. Zach’s father pushes him to give up make-believe, and Zach quits the game. Their friendship might be over, until Poppy declares she’s been having dreams about the Queen—and the ghost of a girl who will not rest until the bone-china doll is buried in her empty grave.

Zach and Alice and Poppy set off on one last adventure to lay the Queen’s ghost to rest. But nothing goes according to plan, and as their adventure turns into an epic journey, creepy things begin to happen. Is the doll just a doll or something more sinister? And if there really is a ghost, will it let them go now that it has them in its clutches?

Doll Bones is a winner of the Newbery Honor, is the recipient of six starred reviews, was on four Best Book lists, and was called "perfect" by The New York Times.
May 7, 2013

À propos de l'auteur

Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), the Modern Faerie Tales series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, The Darkest Part of the Forest, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare), and the Folk of the Air series. She has been a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award, a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of both an Andre Norton Award and a Newbery Honor. She lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door. Visit her at BlackHolly.com.

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Aperçu du livre

Doll Bones - Holly Black


common.jpg CHAPTER ONE common.jpg

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 Goodwill—with big shiny heads, different-colored 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 siding, but aboard a real ship, with salt spray stinging his face, on his way to adventure.

We’re going to have to lash ourselves to the mast, Zach said, as William the Blade, captain of the Neptune’s Pearl. Zach had a different way of speaking for each of his figures. He wasn’t sure that anyone but him could tell his voices apart, but he felt different when he talked in them.

Alice’s braids spilled in front of her amber eyes as she moved a G.I. Joe Lady Jaye figure closer to the center of the boat. Lady Jaye was a thief who’d begun traveling with William the Blade after she’d been unsuccessful in picking his pocket. She was loud and wild, almost nothing like Alice, who chafed under the thumb of her overprotective grandmother, but did it quietly.

You think the Duke’s guards will be waiting for us in Silverfall? Alice made Lady Jaye ask.

He might catch us, said Zach, grinning at her. But he’ll never hold us. Nothing will. We’re on a mission for the Great Queen and we won’t be stopped. He hadn’t expected to say those words until they came out of his mouth, but they felt right. They felt like William’s true thoughts.

That was why Zach loved playing: those moments where it seemed like he was accessing some other world, one that felt real as anything. It was something he never wanted to give up. He’d rather go on playing like this forever, no matter how old they got, although he didn’t see how that was possible. It was already hard sometimes.

Poppy tucked windblown strands of red hair behind her ears and regarded Zach and Alice very seriously. She was tiny and fierce, with freckles thick enough to remind Zach of the stars at night. She liked nothing better than being in charge of the story and had a sense of how to make a moment dramatic. That was why she was the best at playing villains.

You can knot ropes to keep you safe, but no boat can pass through these waters unless a sacrifice is given to the deep, Poppy made one of the mermaids say. Willingly or unwillingly. If one of your crew doesn’t leap into the sea, the sea will choose her own sacrifice. That’s the mermaid’s curse.

Alice and Zach exchanged a look. Were the mermaids telling the truth? Really, Poppy wasn’t supposed to make up rules like that—ones that no one else had agreed to—but Zach objected only when he didn’t like them. A curse seemed like it could be fun.

We’ll all go down together before we lose a single member of this crew, he fake-shouted in William’s voice. We’re on a mission for the Great Queen, and we fear her curse more than yours.

But just then, said Poppy ominously, moving one of the mermaids to the edge of the ship, webbed fingers grab Lady Jaye’s ankle, and the mermaid pulls her over the side of the boat. She’s gone.

You can’t do that! Alice said. I was lashed to the mast.

You didn’t specify that you were, Poppy told her. William suggested it, but you didn’t say whether or not you did it.

Alice groaned, as though Poppy was being especially annoying. Which she kind of was. "Well, Lady Jaye was in the middle of the boat. Even if she wasn’t lashed, a mermaid couldn’t get to her without crawling on board."

If Lady Jaye gets pulled over the side, I’m going after her, Zach said, plunging William into the gravel water. I meant it when I said no one gets left behind.

I didn’t get pulled over the side, Alice insisted.

As they continued arguing two of Poppy’s brothers walked out of the house, letting the screen door slam behind them. They looked over and started to snicker. The older of the two, Tom, pointed directly at Zach and said something under his breath. His younger brother laughed.

Zach felt his face heat. He didn’t think they knew anyone at his middle school, but still. If any of his teammates found out that, at twelve, he was still playing with action figures, basketball would become a lot less fun. School could get bad too.

Ignore them, Poppy declared loudly. They’re jerks.

All we were going to say is that Alice’s grandma called, Tom said, his face a parody of hangdog innocence. He and Nate had the same tomato-red hair as their sister, but they weren’t much like her in any other way that Zach could see. They, along with their eldest sister, were always in trouble—fighting, cutting school, smoking, and other stuff. The Bell kids were considered hoodlums in town and, Poppy aside, they seemed intent on doing what they could to uphold that reputation. Old lady Magnaye says that you need to be home before dark and for us to be sure to tell you not to forget or make excuses. She seems rough, Alice. The words were supposed to be nice, but you could tell from the sickly sweet way Tom talked that he wasn’t being nice at all.

Alice stood up and brushed off her skirt. The orange glow of the setting sun bronzed her skin and turned her glossy box braids metallic. Her eyes narrowed. Her expression wavered between flustered and angry. Boys had been hassling her ever since she’d hit ten, gotten curves, and started looking a lot older than she was. Zach hated the way Tom talked to her, like he was making fun of her without really saying anything bad, but he never knew what to say to stop it either.

Leave off, Zach told them.

The Bell boys laughed. Tom mimicked Zach, making his voice high-pitched. "Leave off. Don’t talk to my girlfriend."

"Yeah, leave off, Nate squeaked. Or I’ll beat you up with my doll."

Alice started toward the Bell house, head down.

Great, Zach thought. As usual, he’d made it worse.

Don’t go yet, Poppy called to Alice, ignoring her brothers. Call home and just see if you can spend the night.

I better not, Alice said. I’ve just got to get my backpack from inside.

Wait up, Zach said, grabbing Lady Jaye. He headed for the screen door and got there just as it shut in his face. You forgot—

The inside of Poppy’s house was always a mess. Discarded clothes, half-empty cups, and sports equipment covered most surfaces. Her parents seemed to have given up on the house around the same time they gave up on trying to enforce any rules about dinners and bedtimes and fighting—around Poppy’s eighth birthday, when one of her brothers threw her cake with its still-lit birthday candles at her older sister. Now there were no more birthday parties. There weren’t even family meals, just boxes of macaroni and cheese, cans of ravioli, and tins of sardines in the pantry so that the kids could feed themselves long before their parents came home from work and fell, exhausted, into their bed.

Zach felt envious every time he thought of that kind of freedom, and Alice loved it even more than he did. She spent as many nights there as her grandmother allowed. Poppy’s parents didn’t seem to notice, which worked out pretty perfectly.

He opened the screen door and went inside.

Alice was standing in front of the dusty, old, locked display cabinet in the corner of the Bell living room, peering in at all the things Poppy’s mother had forbidden Poppy, on pain of death and possible dismemberment, from touching. That was where the doll they called the Great Queen of all their kingdoms was trapped, next to a blown-glass vase from Savers that had turned out to be vintage something-or-other. The Queen had been picked up by Poppy’s mother at a tag sale, and she insisted that one day she was going to go on Antiques Roadshow, sell it, and move them all to Tahiti.

The Queen was a bone china doll of a child with straw-gold curls and paper-white skin. Her eyes were closed, lashes a flaxen fringe against her cheek. She wore a long gown, the thin fabric dotted with something black that might be mold. Zach couldn’t remember when exactly they’d decided that she was the Great Queen, only that they’d all felt like she was watching them, even though her eyes were closed, and that Poppy’s sister had been terrified of her.

Apparently, one time, Poppy had woken in the middle of the night and found her sister—with whom she shared a room—sitting upright in bed. If she gets out of the case, she’ll come for us, her sister had said, blank-faced, before slumping back down on her pillow. No amount of calling to the other side of the room had seemed to stir her. Poppy had tossed and turned, unable to sleep for the rest of the night. But in the morning, her sister had told her that she didn’t remember saying anything, that it must have been a nightmare, and that their mother really needed to get rid of that doll.

After that, to avoid being totally terrified, Zach, Poppy, and Alice had added the doll to their game.

According to the legend they’d created, the Queen ruled over everything from her beautiful glass tower. She had the power to put her mark on anyone who disobeyed her commands. When that happened, nothing would go right for them until they regained her favor. They’d be convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. Their friends and family would sicken and die. Ships would sink, and storms would strike. The one thing the Queen couldn’t do, though, was escape.

You okay? Zach asked Alice. She seemed transfixed by the case, staring into it as though she could see something Zach couldn’t.

Finally Alice turned around, her eyes shining. My grandmother wants to know where I am every second. She wants to pick out my clothes for me and complains about my braids all the time. I just am so over it. And I don’t know if she’s going to let me be in the play this year, even though I got a good part. She can’t see so well after dark, and she doesn’t want to drive me home. I’m just so tired of all her rules, and it’s like the older I get, the worse she gets.

Zach had heard most of that before, but usually Alice just sounded resigned to it. What about your aunt? Could you ask her to pick you up after rehearsals?

Alice snorted. She’s never forgiven Aunt Linda for trying to get custody of me way back when. Brings it up at every holiday. It’s made her superparanoid.

Mrs. Magnaye grew up in the Philippines and was fond of telling anyone who would listen how different things were over there. According to her, Filipino teen­agers worked hard, never talked back, and didn’t draw on their hands with ink pens or want to be actresses, like Alice did. They didn’t get as tall as Alice was getting either.

"Made her superparanoid?" Zach asked.

Alice laughed. Yeah, okay. Made her extra-­superparanoid.

Hey. Poppy came into the living room from outside, holding the rest of their figures. "Are you sure you can’t stay over, Alice?"

Alice shook her head, plucked Lady Jaye out of Zach’s hand, and went down the hallway to Poppy’s room. I was just getting my stuff.

Poppy turned impatiently to Zach for an explanation. She never liked it when she wasn’t part of a conversation and hated the idea that her friends had kept any secrets from her, even stupid ones.

Her grandmother, he said, with a shrug. You know.

Poppy sighed and looked at the cabinet. After a moment, she spoke. If you finish this quest, the Queen will probably lift the curse on William. He could go home and finally solve the mystery of where he came from.

Or maybe she’ll just make him do another quest. He thought about it a moment and grinned. Maybe she wants him to get skilled enough with a sword to break her out of that cabinet.

Don’t even think about it, Poppy said, only half joking. Come on.

They walked down the hall to Poppy’s room just as Alice came out, backpack over one shoulder.

See you tomorrow, she said as she slipped past them. She didn’t look happy, but Zach thought she might just be upset that she was leaving early and that they were going to be hanging out without her. He and Poppy didn’t usually play the game when Alice wasn’t there. But lately Alice seemed to be more bothered by he and Poppy spending time alone together, which he didn’t understand.

Zach walked into Poppy’s room and flopped down on her orange shag rug. Poppy used to share the room with her older sister, and piles of her sister’s outgrown clothes still remained spread out in drifts, along with a collection of used makeup and notebooks covered in stickers and scrawled with lyrics. A jumble of her sister’s old Barbies were on top of a bookshelf, waiting for Poppy to try to fix their melted arms and chopped hair. The bookshelves were overflowing with fantasy paperbacks and overdue library books, some of them on Greek myths, some on mermaids, and a few on local hauntings. The walls were covered in posters—Doctor Who, a cat in a bowler hat, and a giant map of Narnia. Zach thought about drawing a map of their ­kingdoms—one with the oceans and the islands

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Ce que les gens pensent de Doll Bones

81 évaluations / 74 Avis
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Avis des lecteurs

  • (3/5)
    I think this can be a strong contender for The Newbery, but I didn't particularly enjoy it. I think middle school girls will.
  • (4/5)
    Poppy, Alice, and Zach are in that tricky stage in between being a kid and being a teenager. Their favorite thing to do each afternoon is to play with figurines they've created “characters” for, with long elaborate histories. The Queen, a really old doll in Poppy’s mom’s china cabinet, is in charge of all the characters even though she can’t be touched (or Poppy’s mom would kill them). When Zach's father decides he's too old to be playing with toys and gets rid of the precious figurines, Zach is furious. He's so upset that he tells Alice and Poppy he doesn’t want to play with them anymore, and that he's outgrown their games. When Poppy and Alice wake Zach up one night to show him The Queen and tell him how she came to Poppy as a ghost named Eleanor, it's terrifying. Although he's scared, Zach knows he must go on the quest to bury her bones. They sneak out and take the bus to the cemetery to bury the bones of a girl who was never put to rest properly. On their quest they have ups and downs; there are hurdles that they could not imagine, and people who are just as creepy as the ghostly girl haunting their dreams. Will they make it back home by dinnertime? Will they ever find the place to bury Eleanor? Is Poppy telling the truth or has she made up the whole story about the ghost? You will have to read this adventure about growing up to find out how everything turns out!

    After I saw the picture on the cover, I was nervous to read Doll Bones by Holly Black. I have always found certain dolls to be a little creepy and scary. I liked that the characters in the book enjoyed using their imaginations and that they had such a good friendship, even though they were each so unique and different. When Zach's toys got thrown away my heart went out to him, and I kept wishing he would tell his friends why he didn't want to play with them anymore. Throughout the quest I kept wondering what was going to happen next, and if they would make it home safely. I think the characters did some things that are a little dangerous, and I know if I sneaked out in the middle of the night my parents would probably kill me! Still, I think this is a book that a lot of kids can relate to as they struggle between wanting to stay kids and needing to grow up. Because the book has its creepy, spooky moments, I would recommend it to kids in fourth grade and up who like ghost stories.
  • (4/5)
    See full review at The Indigo Quill

    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!
  • (4/5)
    Zachary, Alice, and Poppy are three best friends that have created The Game together, an immersive fantasy story where their various toys are actually characters in an elaborate and ever-evolving story. Their game does not involve a playing board or set of dice, but is all a product of their imaginations, which means it can be done anywhere and at any time. However, the trio are getting older, and playing epic quests with toys is starting to become more difficult. Hormones are starting to come into play, and they might be worrying about what their other friends would say if they find out, and that doesn't even take into account the possibility of romantic interference. To make things worse, Zachary's dad has recently moved back in with the family, and is trying to reconnect by asserting himself as a father figure. This results in his one day throwing out all of Zach's toys, deeming them too babyish and likely to get him teased. Some of those figurines, though, were the characters that Zach played with as his main characters in The Game. Torn by a whirlwind of conflicting emotions - rage at his father, embarrassment when wondering what his basketball friends would say, and a suspicion that maybe he was being too childish after all - Zach doesn't know what to do. Rather than have to explain all of this, and bring in his problematic relationship with father, he decides not to tell Poppy and Alice what actually happened. Instead, he tells them that he thinks The Game is a silly game that he has outgrown, and he doesn't want to play any more.Needless to say, both girls are incredibly hurt. Not only do they want Zach to continue playing with them, but they take it as an indirect insult against them, that they are playing childish games, and think that he might just be saying it because he no longer wants to be their friend. Alice backs off because of her injured feelings, but Poppy, following her aggressive nature, keeps picking at it, pushing Zach to act colder and meaner than he intended. When it seems that the trio are heading to certain break up, Poppy approaches Zach with an odd story: she thinks her doll is possessed by a ghost named Eleanor and is communicating with her. At first, Zach ignores Poppy's story. He thinks she is making one last, far-fetched attempt to get him back into The Game. Because the doll is an integral part of their fantasy world; she is the Great Queen, the ruler who runs all of the activities in the made-up land they created. The doll actually belongs to Poppy's mom, and is a delicate, antique toy that is kept secure behind glass. The kids don't physically involve the doll in their games, but do bring their other toy characters to see her. She is like the supreme being of their world. It is not surprising, then, that Zack thinks Poppy is just employing her typical dramatic flair to affect a reconciliation. However, when quiet and more serious Alice tells him that she is on board, too, Zach agrees to Poppy's plan. Which is that the three of them take the doll to find Eleanor's grave, so that she can finally be at peace. Of course, the grave isn't in their city, so the three preteen children will have to sneak out, disobey their parents, and steal the doll to make it happen. Considering that all three of them have some unresolved issues with their families - Zach is still mad at his dad and not willing to let him back into his life, Alice is bridling under the strict and overprotective care of her grandmother, and Poppy isn't too happy with her parents hardly being around and leaving their large gang of children to fend for themselves - so more issues than the dolls haunting are at stake. They take a bus out of their town in the middle of the night, and experience plenty of strange and sometimes unsettling events to make them feel that they are on a real-life adventure: the strange man on the bus that talks about aliens changing people's faces, the night their campsite is trashed and it seems that only Eleanor (the doll) could have done it, the strange dreams that Zach and Poppy keep having that seem to be about Eleanor's past life, the day they borrow a boat to try to travel more quickly, to name just a few. Eventually they do make it to their desired location, only to realize that resolving Eleanor's problem isn't their only mission on this quest - they also need to make some decisions about their families and lives, too.
  • (5/5)
    Doll Bones is dark and whimsical, heartwarming and bittersweet, and so beautifully written that it will definitely find its way to my favorites shelf.
    Zach, Poppy, and Alice are on a quest to return the "queen" (creepy porcelain doll possibly made from murdered child bones) to her grave. This quest takes them across Pennsylvania and into Ohio and into some pretty scary situations. Throughout their adventure, the kids begin to explore their changing relationships with one another, with their parents, and within themselves. At the same time, they have to overcome many obstacles preventing them from completing their quest and returning the Doll Bones to it's proper grave.

    I grabbed Doll Bones as soon as I saw that it was by Holly Black without even knowing what it was about but I was fairly certain I would enjoy it. And I was right. I Loved this story. The main characters are just 12 years old, at that in between age when they begin moving away from play and make believe and start focusing more on social expectations. I have a son that is 11 and so I could relate to this book so much as a mom watching as my son is going through these exact changes. Holly Black so perfectly captures the essence of this transition from child to adolescent while at the same time giving the reader a creepy adventure to enjoy.

    I would highly recommend Doll Bones to readers of ALL ages. This is highly readable and exciting for younger readers and also has a depth and poignancy that older readers will appreciate. This is hands down my favorite read of 2013.
  • (4/5)
    The concept of this book sets it up for a good paranormal / horror story, and the writing is solid enough to keep you reading. Poppy, Zach, and Alice set out on an adventure to return the spirit of a young girl, who was murdered and turned into a bone china doll by her insane father, to her grave. The doll possesses their thoughts and dreams, forcing them to continue on their quest despite the test of their friendship. This is a good suspense and somewhat scary story for a young reader.... the audience to which it is aimed. Recommended read for the aged 9 to 12 group.
  • (4/5)
    I was really excited to read this book. I have been a huge fan of Holly Black’s books (especially her Modern Fairy tale and Spiderwick series) and was excited to see what she came up with next. This was a good book and eerily creepy, it didn’t blow me away but it was entertaining.Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been friends forever and love playing creative games of fantastical adventure with their action figures. However, as they grow up their friendship is being torn apart. When Zach’s father throws his action figures away it’s the last straw for Zach, he refuses to play. Poppy in a desperate maneuver to save their friendship takes a mysterious china doll (that they in their game they have dubbed The Queen) out of her box. However things take a dark turn when Poppy claims The Queen is haunting her. The Queen tells Poppy she will not rest until Poppy buries her in the grave of the girl whose bones were used to make The Queen’s china. So all three friends set off on a desperate adventure to put Queenie to rest.This book is a well done and creepy story. It is about the creepy china doll, but even more it is about friendship and growing up. All of the kids have big issues with their families, and this final adventure helps them to grow up and understand the world a bit better.Honestly I had some trouble engaging with these characters. This might be because this was such a short book and we hear from all three characters’ point of view. They came off as somewhat selfish to me. Poppy is very manipulative of her friends. Alice only goes on the adventure because she’s in love with Zach. Zach is pretty bitter (and a bit clueless about the girls) through the whole thing.The story is very, very predictable. Things end exactly as you think they will. The adventure the kids go on is brief and honestly not all that magical. Mainly they spend time trudging through urban and suburban landscapes trying to find The Queen’s grave. As soon as I felt like I was starting to get engaged in the adventure...then it was over.The Queen is very well done and extraordinarily creepy. If you are already creeped out by china dolls or dolls in general this book might totally freak you out. The Queen seems to move when no one is looking, destroys things when people are sleeping, and even takes over people’s minds a bit.As I mentioned above this book is mostly about the pressures and expectations of growing up and how that can put stress on a friendship. It was a decent story and the idea was a good one, I just had trouble engaging in it.Overall an okay creepy, adventure read. The Queen is really well done, but I had a lot of trouble engaging with the characters and the plot was very predictable. The story is really more about growing up and friendship than about creepy hauntings. I would recommend for middle grade and older kids because the story is about a young girl being murdered and the doll is super creepy. This was an okay book, but by no means my favorite Holly Black book. It was lacking in a lot of the wonderful description her books normally have.
  • (3/5)
    I read the Spiderwicke Chronicles when i was younger and was really excited to discover doll bones as id really enjoyed the other books by Holly Black. I was however slightly disappointed. The book should have felt really nostalgic, the characters reminded me of myself, not wanting to grow up and still trying to play games that really i was too old for but it just didn't. The plot is good and there's times where its exciting but it never really gripped me as not much actually really happened with the doll. I can see that the man story line was about the fact they were having to grow up and deal with their relationships with their parents etc but that part of it wasn't load and clear enough. Its a nice simple read, very much so more for children than YA's. Im glad i read it, just for old times sake but i probably wont pursue any more of her books just because i felt just a bit too old to be reading it. It would be a good read for children between 9-12yrs i think
  • (5/5)
    Just one of my favorite books of the year. This book is creepy but also a strong story about three best friends on a quest. I just loved it!
  • (3/5)
    Doll Bones is an eclectic combination of ghost story, adventure and coming of age tale. I listened to the audio version of the book and Nick Podehl has a great reading voice and did a nice job of bringing the characters to life. Zack, Poppy and Alice have been best friends forever and their role playing game has been a big part of the friendship. Now that the friends are in middle school they seem to be changing and Poppy worries that their friendship may be ending. When Poppy begins having dreams of her bone china doll, affectionately known as the Queen by the three friends, indicating that the doll is inhabited by a restless spirit the friends set off on an epic quest. The journey is plagued by mishaps and it seems they will never complete their quest. The book was well written and it was headed for 4 stars but the ending was a bit abrupt and I thought there could have been more creepy details added to the story.
  • (4/5)
    Background: Zach, Poppy, and Alice are a group of friends that are around the age of 12 and they still play with dolls. Poppy is very imaginative and creates an ongoing tale for their characters all centering on a bone china doll her mother keeps in a locked glass cabinet. When Zach decides he needs to leave the game, Poppy removes the doll from her case and they learn that there is more to her than just a spooky gaze.Review: I love Holly Black; she is such a creative writer. Doll Bones is a hauntingly creepy tale about a doll that wants to get back to her grave and three kids must get her there by taking the most outrageous adventure. The characters are dealing with the fact that they are all growing up and growing apart and the doll’s quest will give them one last adventure together. The story is told from Zach’s point of view, he is the eldest and dealing with a parent separation/reunion and trying to keep his mind off of reality as much as possible. Poppy, the storyteller, is also dealing with issues at home… or really a lack of parenting altogether. Alice has the opposite of Poppy’s issue, and has a way overprotective grandmother as her caregiver. Each is searching for release from their crazy care circumstances and the doll just happens to help.The doll is the fantastical part of this plot; she is creepy and frequently irks the reader while the kids carry her to her resting place. I may be reading way too far into it, but I felt like it was an overall portrayal of finding peace with one’s life given your situation – the doll trying to find her resting place, the kids trying to deal with their parents and growing up.Even without my heavy interpretation of the plot, I think your kids will love it. It sent shivers down my spine as I listened and I am not sure if I were a character I would have taken that doll anywhere.
  • (5/5)
    Loved it! Holly Black brings another scary ghost story for the elementary age group with deliciously Gothic illustrations by Eliza Wheeler. A very quick read for me, this story examines the relationship between three children who have grown up together, 2 girls and a boy, now having reached middle school age and the dynamics of their friendship are changing as adolescence, though unwanted, creeps upon them. Childhood games have to end sometime and unfortunately for Zach his are ended abruptly by an unsympathetic father, slowly mounting puberty starts to hit the girls first and makes the group of three pull out the old saying "three's a crowd" as the girls' feelings for Zach change. Throughout this personal turmoil they are forced to make drastic decision when the ghost of a murdered girl contacts them through an eerie old doll and will not let them rest until they have put her bone to rest. A delightful story both on the interaction level between the characters and the Gothic, creepy ghost story plot. A perfect read for middle school readers.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book. This is exactly the kind of book I was always looking for as a kid and rarely found. It had a bit of reality, just enough to make you think these are real kids. It had a lot of fantasy, make-believe, adventure and friendship. The illustrations are fabulous. Poppy, Alice and Zach have been playing fantasy games together since they were kids, with a antique china doll, kept in the china cabinet, as the Queen. With them turning 12, most people think they are too old for this and should move on. The trouble this causes between the 3 friends tears their game and friendship apart.Just when they think their game is over, the Queen makes it clear she needs them to complete a quest for them. What is more perfect for fantasy lovers than a quest? The three friends take it on and embark on the quest. I feel that the book was a great portrayal of what happens when people are in the difficult transition from being kids to being teenagers. It affects friendships in many ways and it feels like leaving one is leaving some great things behind without really knowing what comes next. This book reminded me of the books by Edward Eager and E. Nesbit that I loved as a kid. I'll be saving it to read to my granddaughters when they are the proper age for it.I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    The doll in Doll Bones, known as the queen, is an antique porcelain doll, a silent character whose presence permeates every aspect of the plot. I found her to be symbolic of the characters' childhood and friendship, both on the verge of disintegration in this coming of age quest. I highly recommend this book for those 10 and up.
  • (4/5)
    Writers and roleplayers will get something a little extra out of this one.

    My library was confused whether to put this in the children's room or the teen room. It's pretty solidly middle-grade. Reminds me of A Green Glass Sea, and I'm not sure why, because I can't think what they actually have in common except for the age group.
  • (2/5)
    Due to copy and paste, formatting has been lost.2.5 StarsDoll Bones was something I just picked up. I had no prior interest in it, and honestly, I don't particularly have any interest in it now. My only real interest in it was the scare factor. How scary could a MG book be? But then I started it. And realized, that, well, yes, as expected, it wasn't that scary. But first, let's get this out of the way-- I am deathly afraid of some of those porcelain dolls. They just freak me out, and that being said, well, this one didn't. Ouch, that's pretty sad.The doll's story was actually fairly mediocre. That may have just been because I was expecting to have the wits scared out of me, but I can't discount the fact that it just wasn't scary. But I need to move on.I don't very often read books with male narrators, so Doll Bones was unique in that way. Zach was kind of a funny kid, but the more I read from his point of view, the more I realized...he's like twelve. Maybe 13, and they're playing with "dolls"? That was a slight character flaw in itself. I mean, I realize that some people are more mature than others, but does a twelve year old boy really play with dolls? Not in this day and age. You'd be lucky to find a twelve year old that hasn't already had a girlfriend.But aside from that, I did enjoy Zach and his friends, Alice and Poppy. Their adventure was awesome, and I liked the way that they were around each other. They were just simply friends.All in all, Doll Bones was neither creepy enough, mature enough or interesting enough to have me hooked, but it was an okay read.
  • (3/5)
    I completed this creepy little tale about growing up within hours of picking it up from the library. It appears, on the surface, to be a modern-day ghost story, but it is mostly a little adventure about three children - a boy and two girls, who get together and sort of do a combination of playing with toys/roleplaying. The sort of game that makes me want to hark back to my own childhood and gets me all nostalgic. After Zach quits the game, the Queen, a spooky porcelain doll, steps in to lead them off on one final adventure - an adventure that will take them on a quest of their own. It was a fun and easy read, but not exactly life-shattering, and not particularly chilling either. Could have done with a bit more build up and tension.
  • (4/5)
    Betsy Bird, my guru in all things pertaining to children's literature, mentioned this book in a post about possible Newbery Award winners. If you are a fan of scary doll books (like Behind the Attic Wall) you'll like this book as well. A doll tells its young human that she (the doll) is made of a girl's bones and convinces 3 children to go to Ohio to bury the doll. Lots of creepy, and scary encounters. The book is well-written and the characters are three-dimensional. The plot is well conceived and carried out. But personally, I am NOT fond of scary dolls. It is a Junior Literary Guild choice and I am always impressed with books that make that cut.
  • (5/5)
    Is the ghost real? Or is it a children's fantasy game?This coming-of-age quest reminds me of The Turn of the Screw. All right, it's not entirely Jamesian – certainly not as long a read as the typical Jamesian work – but there's that ambiguity that I find so wonderful in ghost stories like The Turn of the Screw or Shirley Jackson's "The Daemon Lover." Here, though, it's not a question of ghostly apparition versus a character's psychotic imaginings but of ghostly possession of a doll versus a twelve-year-old girl's imaginings prompted by her desire to maintain an unchanging friendship with her two best friends.It's this ambiguity – is the Doll Queen really possessed or is it just Poppy's imaginings which spur Zach and Alice to join her in the quest – that provides the heart of the coming-of-age story as the three twelve-year-olds can come to the end of their quest only by telling each other some very simple truths about themselves.
  • (5/5)
    Creepy, surreal, and also very true to life, Doll Bones is about the pain of letting go of childhood. Zach, Alice and Poppy for years have played an intricate game of their devising, using dolls and action figures as characters in their story. When Zach's dad throws his dolls out in an attempt to turn him into a man, Zach is heartbroken but can't bear to tell the others. So he just tells them he won't play anymore. Poppy, whose mother's precious and ancient doll is at the heart of their game, tells them that Queen, the doll, has come to her in her dreams and told her that she was created from the bones of a girl named Eleanor, who was murdered. Queen wants to be buried with her family so she can rest. Misgivings aside, the three reunite on a quest to find Queen's rightful burial place, a quest that is at turns strange, scary, exhilarating, healing and bonding.
  • (4/5)
    Mini Book Review: A delightfully dark and creepy tale, perfect for the more sophisticated middle grader. As an adult reading it reminded me of that time in your life where you are still a child but things are becoming more complicated as you move into the teenage years. I was hooked into this one right away and didn't want to put it down. I hate to invoke the term "coming of age" but it really is the heart of the story. In fact coming of age -- meets creepy china doll (ok creepy and china doll - same thing - man those toys always creep the hell out of me) really sums it up. All of the characters are realistic and I really enjoyed the fact that the parents were not caricatures. A nice quick read that will hook the right kid.. A truly imaginative and adventurous story of friendship, growing up all wrapped up with a mysterious ghost story involving a china doll. Man wish there were more of these types of stories when I was that age. Also, Black really has a gift when it comes to setting a mood - felt like I was living the adventure with Zach, Poppy and Alice. One last thing -- excellent Librarian character who was also not a caricature. Favorite Quote"There was a kind of quiet that hung over the world in the middle of the night, as though there was no one else awake anywhere. It felt ripe with magic and endless possiblitiy." 4 Dewey's Jenn H sent this to me from OLA
  • (4/5)
    Zach, Poppy, and Alice live in their own imaginary world with quests to complete. They are now in middle school and battling being friends through their own personal changes. After their bone-china doll begins haunting Poppy she insists they need to bury the doll for the spirit to rest. On their quest they experience a variety of changes within. This spooky tale leaves you wondering if the ghost was real or just their imagination? I enjoyed this book it is fun, whimsical, and imaginative. The coming of age story is not for young children. I would recommend it for middle-school.
  • (5/5)
    Doll Bones is dark and whimsical, heartwarming and bittersweet, and so beautifully written that it will definitely find its way to my favorites shelf.
    Zach, Poppy, and Alice are on a quest to return the "queen" (creepy porcelain doll possibly made from murdered child bones) to her grave. This quest takes them across Pennsylvania and into Ohio and into some pretty scary situations. Throughout their adventure, the kids begin to explore their changing relationships with one another, with their parents, and within themselves. At the same time, they have to overcome many obstacles preventing them from completing their quest and returning the Doll Bones to it's proper grave.

    I grabbed Doll Bones as soon as I saw that it was by Holly Black without even knowing what it was about but I was fairly certain I would enjoy it. And I was right. I Loved this story. The main characters are just 12 years old, at that in between age when they begin moving away from play and make believe and start focusing more on social expectations. I have a son that is 11 and so I could relate to this book so much as a mom watching as my son is going through these exact changes. Holly Black so perfectly captures the essence of this transition from child to adolescent while at the same time giving the reader a creepy adventure to enjoy.

    I would highly recommend Doll Bones to readers of ALL ages. This is highly readable and exciting for younger readers and also has a depth and poignancy that older readers will appreciate. This is hands down my favorite read of 2013.
  • (3/5)
    A bittersweet coming of age novel, _Doll Bones_ by Holly Black follows a trio of twelve year old friends on their final childhood quest. I would recommend this to middle-grade readers, preferably with some background in fantasy lit (just so they can catch the references).
  • (5/5)
    Horror is a genre that makes me slightly queasy. I live in a household with an unrepentant irrepressible horror fan, who kindly turns done the TV when the seriously scary bits on. I have to admit to my students that I've read only one Goosebumps story, just so I could say I had.

    But Doll Bones isn't just a horror story. Or, rather, I should say, it's the best kind of horror story: it respects the reader by presenting fully human characters who must face the supernatural. The three main characters, Alice, Zachary, and Poppy, are kids on the cusp of young adulthood, and they react in pitch-perfect ways to the challenges the plot presents. Zachary, from whose point of view the story is told, is by turns exuberantly involved in the storytelling game he and his friends have told for years, and sullenly withdrawn from the father who has just re-entered his life. I kept reading bits aloud to my husband because the writing was so good. And so restrained, too. Black leaves the reader in doubt about the existence of the ghost for a good part of the book, creating an atmosphere of eerie suspense. I'm so delighted to be able to have a truly fabulous horror read for my middle elementary students.

    Scary, creepy dolls! Ghosts! Graveyards! And the scariest thing of all...growing up.
  • (5/5)
    I absolutely adored this story by Holly Black. Although not a huge fan of MG, Holly did a wonderful job depicting the lives of a middle schooler, who isn't quite fitting in. Great imagination!!! And full of spookiness just perfect for early teens!
  • (4/5)
    Zach, Poppy and Alice are the main characters in this adventurous book. They are the best of friends and make up stories involving their toys. Zach's father tells him he is too big for toys and is forced to stop playing with them. Only problem is a china doll, that is made from the ashes of a dead girl, will not let that happen to easily. This is a fun story with some spooky and creepy details, very descriptive and a break from the traditional fantasy stories.Classroom Extension: Have children write their own spooky story.
  • (4/5)
    More than a ghost story. Three friends face what growing up is doing and will continue to do to their friendship . That this kids have a home life that is less than perfect, adds to the ties that hold them together. The scary parts are sure to intrigue the audience. 2014 SSYRA
  • (4/5)
    Holly Black is a master storyteller with the Spiderwick Chronicles and several other popular series for teens and children. Her newest release “Doll Bones” is a spooky tale about a possessed doll and 3 children who must return her to her grave. This book keeps popping up on different lists as a popular tween book. After hearing about it again at the MLA conference I decided to give it a try. The publisher recommends this title to ages 10-14 and is 244 pages long.Synopsis-Poppy, Zach, and Alice love to have grand adventures with their action figures and dolls. They have been playing an evolving game with them forever. It doesn’t matter to them that they are at an age where playing with dolls is considered babyish. All that matters is their friendship, adventures, and pleasing the Great Queen doll who lives in the china cabinet. One fateful day everything changes for Zach when his Dad ruins the game. Nothing will ever be the same. As Zach withdraws from his friends, a new mystery begins when Poppy releases the Queen from her cabinet. All of a sudden the 3 friends are thrust into a quest that will challenge their friendship and could ruin their lives. Is the creepy Queen doll really made out of a dead girls bones? Is she trying to get them all killed? Will anything ever be the same?Find out in this twisty tale of mystery, friendship and possible murder!Review-This book was more than just a ghost story. It more about the power of friendship and how we change as we get older. Poppy, Zach, and Alice all have hardships that they are facing in their personal lives. Poppy has parents who are overworked and too busy for her. Zach has a complicated relationship with his Dad, and Alice is alone with her aging Grandmother who has crazy rules. Each character has been developed very well and I think many of my students will be able to identify with their struggles. The author did a great job of creating a realistic world for these middle grade kids that has lots of the trials and tribulations that tweens often deal with.I have always been slightly creeped out by porcelain/china dolls. Especially the ones with the eyes that open and close. The Queen is no exception. She is an old doll with a faded dress and eyes that don’t really open or close right. Black does a good job making her seem sinister and evil without making her too scary. I have noticed that dolls are often the main characters in scary books for kids so I am not alone in thinking that they are extra creepy! This one might even be made of the bones of a dead child who is desperate to get back to her grave…yikes! While the story is very scary at times (the doll often seems to come to life) it is not gory or over the top. The murder is only hinted at and there are no scenes of blood and guts. I can see my 3rd and 4th grade students liking this book. I also won’t have to worry about parents thinking it is too scary.There is a extra tiny bit of romance between the characters but you really have to squint to see it. It really does not add or detract from the story and there is nothing inappropriate going on. I really liked that this part was touched on but not the main part of the story. The rest of the story shows how hard growing up can be when you are still a kid and not yet a teen. That is what resonated most with me and I think that readers will identify with this the most. It has enough scary and enough heart to keep you reading to the very last page.4 out of 5 stars and a definite purchase for our children’s library!Other books you might like that are similar to this one:Dollhouse Murders- Betty Ren Wright (Ages 10 and up)Doll in the Garden- Mary Downing Hahn (Ages 10 and up)Bad girls don’t die- Katie Alender (Ages 12 and up)