I love Holly Black’s YA writing and was really intrigued when I heard about her latest middle grade novel at a Random House Blogger Brunch at the start of the year. I simultaneously love and am terrified of horror films and porcelain dolls are simply frightening things so Doll Bones sounded like a great fit.
Zach, Alice and Poppy have been friends for most of their lives and love playing games with action figures, but Zach’s worried about what his other basketball friends would think if they knew and certainly his dad doesn’t approve. When his dad throws away all of his figures saying Zach is too old for them, Zach is devastated and angry. Deciding the best thing is to forget about playing and about Alice and Poppy. However when Alice and Poppy visit and claim that Poppy’s being haunted by the Queen china doll and that the doll is made up of the bones of a murdered girl the trio have to return the doll to the girl’s rightful resting spot.
I don’t read enough middle grade as I definitely enjoyed Doll Bones and it made me want to explore more books of its type. Zach was a great narrator and I loved that Black tackled that fear of being seen as too young and fear of growing up that happens at that age, as well as having Zach play these games as a boy which is something I’ve not read much in children’s fiction as it seems to put playing with figures as a ‘girl’ activity.
While parts of the adventure did drag a little for me, I think that overall Doll Bones is a fun, spooky read for the upper middle grade ages. The doll itself was spooky, but as an adult and horror movie veteran was not exactly scary for me, however I know at the target age I would have been definitely spooked out. The story behind the doll was interesting and a real highlight of the book. However for me what made this book work so well were the friendships conveyed and how Black evoked that strange transitional period you can find yourself in at the characters’ age.
Doll Bones is also illustrated and the illustrations work so well within the book. They’re slightly spooky and really enhance the vaguely macabre tone of the book without making it feel younger as some illustrations can.
If you enjoy spooky middle grades with great friendships and an air of adventure then Doll Bones is for you!
I received a free eARC via Netgalley from Random House Children’s Publishers, UK for my honest review. As always, the method in which I receive a book does not affect the tone or content of my review. Doll Bones is available to buy now.