Doll Bones
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Doll Bones

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  6,723 ratings  ·  1,333 reviews
Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and s...more
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
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Middle Grade Novels of 2013
9th out of 304 books — 532 voters
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Best Kids' Ghost/ Scary Story Books
6th out of 12 books — 19 voters

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Community Reviews

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Holly Black is one of few who can write something as cute as it is creepy!

Doll Bones is a Middle Grade novel that is full of adventure and friendship--really the only type of MG books I read and enjoy. It's the story of Zach, Poppy, and Alice who have been friends for such a long time that their friendship feels familiar even to us. I immediately felt attuned to their mutual trust and support. Not giving in when the other kids laughed at them for playing with action figures. But then one day the...more
Dolls are creepy little things, aren’t they? With their porcelain faces and abnormally large eyes...

Holly Black’s Doll Bones is a fairly simple story that touches on a few thought-provoking areas. We have a doll, yes – one that is as deliciously sinister as would be expected – but we also have a lingering look at three children who are on the verge of adolescence. As much as this book is about the dark past of a dead girl, and the subsequent doll made from human bones and filled with ashes, it i...more
I don’t watch much horror in general. I’m what you might call a chicken. When I do see it, though, I’m not particularly disturbed by random splattering and gore. The psychological stuff is far more of a lure for me. If I’m going to be honest, though, one of the scariest things I ever saw was on the cheesiest of television shows. It was this insider look into the world of ghosts and on the show we heard about a haunted home. It was a well-lit suburban house and we watched as a woman took off her...more
Richard Denney
Mar 18, 2014 Richard Denney marked it as to-read
Shelves: wishlist
Holy FUCK, I need this book!!!
So in Doll Bones, Holly Black has taken the age-old desperate cry of imaginative and bookish children everywhere—“OH GOD GROWING UP SUCKS SO HAAAAAARD MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP!!!”—and then added the most fucking terrifying doll ever to serve as a plot device.

And you’re thinking, “Scarier than Chucky?” and I’m going to say, “Yes. Probably.” Because Chucky, at least, would just come at you with a knife. Whereas the Queen will not only creep around with you in the physical world, she’...more

Do you live, read, and breathe stories? Does the idea of causing trouble make you grin? Do you believe in magic? Then Holly Black’s Doll Bones is the book for you! The pull and power of a story on the page and off the cuff, free-flowing narratives can hold the secrets of the world for me. True magic can be found in a story. I have always believed that and always will. A belief that can’t be taken away from us. Right?

”He wondered whether growing up was learning that most stories turned out to be...more

I came at this little book with expectations waaaay too high, and my overall tepid response to it is the result.

That cover, that awesome cover screams epic creep. I wanted Coraline. This is not Coraline. I hate to pit books against each other in caged death matches, but my reader brain kept doing that here, and guess which competitor got gutted and left for dead? It was gruesome to watch so ill-prepared was the one for the other.

Doll Bones will have some appeal to younger middle-grade readers....more
What if our childhood games and fantasies were real? When is childhood over? Three children--on the edge of adolescence--set off on one last adventure in answer to a dead girl's wishes. Beautifully written. I particularly enjoyed the friendships between Poppy, Zach, and Alice. Scary, but not too scary. I plan to read Doll Bones to my 5th graders this year.
Barb Middleton
My best friend, Ginny, and I would sneak into the storm sewer system that emptied into the nature center bordering our adjacent backyards, huddle around a candle (it was more exciting striking a match than flipping a flashlight switch) and whisper ghost stories to each other. We'd hike in the inky darkness bent at the waist until reaching a manhole where we'd straighten up looking at a spotlight of sunshine near a small hole at the top. Sometimes I'd climb the rungs to get closer to the light fe...more
Hayley Knighten
Don't worry, this review is spoiler-free :)

I read this to my 9-year-old son and we both loved it. He loved the adventure, I loved how Black so perfectly captured that age just before adolescence.

As an adult, I think we forget sometimes how scary it was being a kid and realizing that growing up means putting away your toys and venturing off into the unknown of dating and adolescence.

The kids in this book are so fun and the parents were als...more
Benji Martin
Oh man. Where did this Holly Black come from? She's always been a pretty good writer to me. I really liked the Curse Workers series, but this is a new, and drastically improved Holly Black. This is Newbery award worthy stuff, guys. This passes anything Holly Black has written so far, by miles, and it's also better than any 2013 book I've read so far. I really think it's leading the Newbery race at this point.

The problem is, when a book is leading the Newbery race, people start picking at it and...more
I love Holly Black, she is creeptastic and just all out darkly wonderful. This story *shudders* deals with one of my biggest fears dolls. Yes I am a grown woman, but growing up I had all these weird mop dolls laying around my house and well I have been terrified ever since. It probably doesn't help that my cousins use to scare the daylights out of me with them, but anyway that's beside the point. I have been avoiding reading this because I just knew it would scare me and I was right (I started i...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I didn't place this on any of my shelves as it comes to us in the clothes of a ghost story but I would say that it's not truly that. Mostly I believe this is what I'd call a "coming of age story". The book is more the story of three young people growing up and trying to move from childhood into adulthood (with the cards often stacked against them) placed in the atmosphere of a ghost story.

We meet the 3 young people that we will "travel" with as the book opens. A young man and two young women (or...more
Donna  Happy Booker
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 pare...more
When I was a kid, there was a ghost story we told called "The China Doll." It had the reputation for being the most terrifying story anybody knew, and before a telling began, we'd repeat the lore about the previous times it had been told. At so-and-so's slumber party it made someone cry. At a different party, it made a girl puke! And finally, the worst, a girl got so scared she had to call their mom to pick her up. Everyone was offered the opportunity to leave the room before the story began, in...more
“I thought you needed to be tougher. But I've been thinking that protecting somebody by hurting them before someone else gets the chance isn't the kind of protecting that anybody wants.”

A middle grade horror novel, Doll Bones tells a story about adventures and friendship that gets mixed with creepy events and different emotions. This was very age appropriate and even though it was horror story, there wasn't much scary things about it except the old china doll.

Friendship that was presented b...more
Jan 21, 2013 Janni added it
Recommended to Janni by: Mira Domsky
Sure, this book is about creepy dolls and bone china made with real bones, which would be reason enough to read it. But it's also a story about pretend games and story telling, how we need them, how we struggle to hang on to them as we get older, and how their role changes and doesn't change as we do. Lovely stuff that hits the right buttons for those of us who never gave up on playing pretend ourselves.
Jun 05, 2012 Cristina marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Reeka (BoundbyWords)
As seen on my blog:

Okay, before I even start, can we all please take a few minutes to STARE at the cover of this book!?..Because..REALLY..have you ever bared witness to such fantastic-ness!? I've said it before, and I'll say it a million times more: Middle Grade covers are a constant WIN. The genre is a magnet to SO many talented artists, I just..I can't even. The artist that designed the cover for Doll Bones , illustrator/author Elize Wheeler,can be found here. PLEASE check her out!

I'm gonna g...more
Matt Youngbauer
"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me."

That process is at the heart of "Doll Bone's," Holly Black's amazing new middle grade novel. There comes a time in our lives where we generally grow out of our childhood and begin the sad, mysterious business of becoming adults. At least that is what I am told, since I still do magic tricks, and proudly wear my Batman tee shirt. But for Zach, P...more
I award Doll Bones the most intriguing cover of the year. The cover design created a discomforting sense of conflict within me. I do not read scary books but I felt compelled to read it. I believe it was the work of the Queen drawing me into the story of Zack, Poppy, and Alice and their mission to lay the Queen in her empty grave.

Any time a book inspires me to research it's back story, I know it to be a remarkable book. Doll Bones connects us to learning opportunities for discovering pottery m...more
Creepy doll! Really, no kidding, seriously creepy doll.

Three friends entering middle school set out on an adventure together, maybe just to have a last gasp together before they grow up, or maybe there really is a ghost that needs to be put to rest. Either way, the story works. It works as a contemporary novel of middle school and the shifting relations of old friends amidst sports teams and beginning-to-date. So that is firm, and worth reading. And then, there is the creepy doll, and the adven...more
Loved this one from beginning to end. I thought it would be more scary than it actually was....just enough to hook readers without giving more timid readers nightmares. The idea of "leaving childhood behind" in this story will resonant much more easily with readers than Hokey Pokey for sure. I agree with Tamara Jaimes that this one will make a great read aloud!
Doll Bones is one of those books that I'd dedicate to my much-younger-self (yes, I'm completely aware that it's newly-released, I haven't entirely lost it yet). It is partially about these three extraordinary children on the verge of growing up but having no interest in leaving behind what is soon to be deemed childish. It tells you something, don't it?
Edward Sullivan
A creepy and spooky story but not so much a ghost story as a highly sophisticated, realistic story of friendship and the coming of age changes that accompany adolesence. The characters are haunted by ghosts more of a psychological than supernatural nature.
Cat {Wild Night In}
I received a free copy of this book as part of a goodreads giveaway. Huzzah! By way of thanks, here’s a review.

First things first: the cover and illustrations are gorgeous and complement the story well with their atmospheric shading (for the illustrations) and the dead-eyed stare of Eleanor-the-doll (on the cover) and so deserve special mention. The artist’s portfolio can be found here:

I started out with high hopes for this book and, for the most part, Doll Bone...more
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

Doll Bones is a new Middle Grade title from the talented Holly Black. It is, thus far, my favorite MG read of the year. It is a genre busting title that covers horror, suspense, mystery, and the supernatural. Or it could be a plain old contemporary realistic novel. It is all in how you look it at.

Doll Bones follows three twelve year olds who have been friends for years.

Zach: He is a talented basketball player and has recently attracted th...more
Zach, Poppy and Alice are friends who have known each other for ever. The three love coming up with awesome stories and to play them out with their action figure toys. Their current story follows pirate William the Blade and his ally the thief Lady Jaye on a quest for The Queen, “played” by an ancient china doll. When they reach a point when William the Blade is about to find out the truth about his past, the unthinkable happens: Zach’s father throws away all of his action figures because accord...more
Tt (Never Ending Stories Book Blog)
If you like creepy and ghostly china dolls-this book is just for you!

I am so happy that my first book by Holly Black was Doll Bones! I have heard that Holly's writing is very dark and creepy in her young adult books so I was curious to see how the author would portray this reputation in a children's book. And I have to tell you she creepily delivered on the creepiness.

Doll Bones is about a set of kids who are transitioning from being between the playing with dolls age and I'm in middle school, s...more
Josh Petersen
SCORE: 9.5/10

I'm going to try to keep this short so that I don't just start a rambling lovefest. Because this was a marvelous, marvelous book, and certainly in my mind the best thing I've read this year. The way Black successfully merges horror, adventure, coming-of-age, and drama is nothing short of amazing. And all the while, the writing is fluid, smart, and emotionally honest. The scene where Zach calls his dad really touched me for some reason, and there's no profound revelations, tearful bo...more
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Henrico Youth Boo...: Doll Bones by Holly Black 6 23 Nov 25, 2013 10:57AM  
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Holly Black is a best-selling author of contemporary fantasy novels for kids, teens, and adults. She is the author of the Modern Faerie Tale series (Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside), The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), and The Good Neighbors graphic novels (with Ted Naifeh) The Poison Eaters and Other Stories, a collection of short fiction, and The Curse Worker series (White Cat, Red Gl...more
More about Holly Black...
Tithe (Modern Faerie Tales, #1) The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, #1) Ironside (Modern Faerie Tales, #3) White Cat (Curse Workers, #1) The Wrath of Mulgarath (The Spiderwick Chronicles, #5)

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“There’s people who do things and people who never do—who say they will someday, but they just don’t. I want to go on a quest. I’ve always wanted to go on a quest. And now that I have one, I’m not backing down from it. I’m not going home until it’s complete.” 16 likes
“I thought you needed to be tougher. But I've been thinking that protecting somebody by hurting them before someone else gets the chance isn't the kind of protecting that anybody wants.” 12 likes
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