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Doll Bones

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  17,045 Ratings  ·  2,911 Reviews
A doll that may be haunted leads three friends on a thrilling adventure in this delightfully creepy novel from the New York Times bestselling cocreator of the Spiderwick Chronicles.

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
Audiobook, 244 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Listening Library (Audio)
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the book said because he didn't want her in the dirt, I think that he was nice enough to do it.
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg SloanNavigating Early by Clare VanderpoolDoll Bones by Holly BlackEscape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris GrabensteinFlora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Newbery 2014
3rd out of 113 books — 453 voters
Reboot by Amy TinteraThe 5th Wave by Rick YanceyBroken Forest by Eliza TiltonThe End Games by T. Michael MartinThe Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni
May 2013 YA & MG Releases!
8th out of 33 books — 31 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jesse (JesseTheReader)
While this was an interesting read and even a bit creepy, it didn't completely grab me like I'd hoped it would. The romance in this book felt so out of place and unnecessary. It didn't do anything for me and I didn't find that it did anything for the plot. I also felt like the pacing of this book seemed a bit off. I am happy that I took the time to read this, but to me it just wasn't anything spectacular.
May 11, 2013 Giselle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, arc, middle-grade
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
Feb 25, 2013 Betsy rated it it was amazing
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
Jubilation Lee
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’
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
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I read Doll Bones a couple of weeks ago, but then life got in the way as it sometimes does and I didn’t ever get around to writing a review. BUUUUUUUUUT! I remembered I had not yet reviewed it and made sure to do an “auto renewal” of my library book in order to save all the highlighting and notes about the story that were contained on my Kindle. And then I received notice that my auto renewal failed, but the book was still available f
May 15, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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

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.
Richard Denney
Mar 18, 2014 Richard Denney marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wishlist
Holy FUCK, I need this book!!!
Hayley Knighten
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 also incredibly well-crafted.

Then there is the ghost story, that was spooky enough to keep our interest
Pretty boring. The characters weren't very interesting or likeable, all they did was snap at each other, and the MC was so unbelievably generic and dull.
There was nothing remotely scary, creepy, adventurous or dramatic about the story, it was all so blah.
The illustrations weren't impressive either, they didn't really add anything to the book.
Kristina Horner
I ended up having a good time reading this book, but I didn't love it. I often had a hard time believing these kids were twelve and not in their late teens, the crush between two of the main characters felt shoe-horned in, and the way Zach reacted to his dad throwing out his toys (refusing to tell his friend what happened and just closing off) seemed... I don't know. Extreme. Unnecessary.

While the plot was fun, it felt like a book trying to achieve A Series of Unfortunate Events levels of disbe
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.
pink (not just another shade of red)

Doll Bones is not just a story about a doll possessed by a ghost. It's not just a story about three kids going to an adventure to bury a dead girl's remains. It is a story about pirates sailing unto endless quests, mermaids asking for sacrifices, dangerous dukes, thieves, and the changes and choices everyone has to go through growing up. It reminded me so much of my own childhood, making up worlds and adventures in my own backyard, inventing ghosts rattling outside the window, and being both sca
Benji Martin
May 27, 2013 Benji Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Barb Middleton
Aug 15, 2013 Barb Middleton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
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
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
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
Did you know that the fear of dolls is called Pediophobia? It is. I just learned something new just now about my deep-seated fear of antique dolls. Suffice it to say that I for one find antique dolls very creepy. Apparently, I'm not alone. Holly Black seemed to take pediophobia and run with it. Imagine these kids who have their elaborate role-playing game that involves action figures and dolls, and they employ one of the girl's mom's prized possessions as the Great Queen. She rules over the imag ...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
Apr 29, 2014 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-honor
**** Newbery Honor (2014) ****

Three friends go on a quest of adventure to put the spirit of long deceased girl at rest. Quite a lot of fun and just the right amount of spookiness. It will make you believe in ghosts!

One thing, and this is probably just me, I kept confusing the characters of Poppy and Alice. There are portraits of the three characters on the back cover, which I appreciated. But still, it seemed to me that Poppy was a better name for the dark haired girl, and Alice was better suit
Jun 24, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A charming coming-of-age story and a ghost story all rolled into one. I was worried that this would be too scary for me, I'm a huge chicken when it comes to ghosts, but it's lite on horror and goes into far more depth about the nature of friendship and how that can change as you grow up. A lovely book!
Jan 21, 2013 Janni added it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Amanda OH MY GOD IT Burns
Jul 07, 2016 Amanda OH MY GOD IT Burns rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I would have loved this book as a child. It had almost everything I enjoyed in my yesteryear, engaging characters with vivid imaginations and a ghost story. The only thing missing was the animal element, such as a horse or a beloved pet dog. No worries though, I was able to convince the big kid in me to let that requirement go for this particular read. It seems the going rate for bribing me is two bowls of ice cream and one extra-long nap.

So four easy stars for a book I originally bought for my
Aug 31, 2015 Justine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely fantastic read aloud story about friendship mixed with adventure and the cool edge of a ghost's tale. Not too scary for a seven year old, but enough tension to keep a ten year old wondering and the adult reader and listeners engaged and interested in the outcome.
Jonathan Peto
Doll Bones is simpler than I expected. Elements of it were ambiguous, and those elements seem to mask a complexity that has not completely sunk in, but for now, for me, what I loved, or almost loved, or would have absolutely loved, remained undeveloped.

Oh, well.

Those undeveloped things include the interesting dynamic between Poppy, Zach and Alice. Zach narrates. They have been friends for years but they’re entering a time of change and their friendship seems unlikely to last. This was fascinatin
Maxine  (Booklover Catlady)
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, my thanks for the opportunity.

China dolls, creepy looking china dolls. Oh yes, I know what they are like. This book made me remember being a young child and being afraid of a porcelain doll that sounded similar to the doll in the book. This doll sat in a cupboard at my Nana's house and everytime I got sent to the cupboard to get something one eye open would watch me. I remember my heart hammering in
Rebecca T
Dec 27, 2015 Rebecca T rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 115-in-2015
First things first, the synopsis is quite misleading. While yes, this story does revolve around the ghost of a girl in a creepy ass doll, it is in no way a horror read - not even middle grade horror. If anything I would say it's only slightly creepy. Instead, this book is a quest; an adventure shared between three children on the cusp of growing up. It's about friendship and change. What it means to be a kid, and what it means to leave childhood behind. Despite all this, I really did enjoy it!
Jul 05, 2016 lina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Зак, Поппи и Элис дружат чуть ли не с самого детства. Им нравится играть вместе, придумывать различные история и воображать целые миры, которые полны тайн и загадок.

Но однажды случается такая вещь. Кукла, которая стояла в шкафу у Поппи дома, начала ее преследовать. Ей приснился сон, где призрак маленькой девочки сказал ей, что куклу нужно похоронить, а если они это не сделают, то им будет плохо. И друзья с сомнениям отправляются в путь, навстречу путешествию. Ведь они так мечтали об этом и вот
3 stelle e mezzo
Un libro che mi ha piacevolmente colpito per la sua capacità di riportarmi indietro nel tempo e di risvegliare ricordi di un’infanzia fatta di storie, giochi, fiabe e tanta fantasia. La Black imbastisce una storia semplice ma dolce, quasi malinconica, che vede come protagonisti tre ragazzini, ormai non più bambini, che affrontano con una certa difficoltà e in maniera misteriosa e avventurosa, il passaggio tra infanzia e adolescenza. Ma questo passaggio, la Black lo mette bene in
Colleen Houck
A little creepy. Loved the story of the doll. Still haunts me after reading it!
Even though other kids might think it a little weird, 12-year-old neighbors Zach, Poppy, and Alice keep playing imagination games with their toys -- a long-running heroic quest with many twists and turns. The most powerful character is the Queen, a china doll they aren't allowed to touch, but which exerts a mysterious pull from her position in a cabinet in Poppy's house. But one day, Zach's father throws all of his toys away, and insists it's time for Zach to grow up. Zach, shocked and grieving,
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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 Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones,The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare), The Darkest Part of the Forest, and her new series which begins with The Cruel Prince in J ...more
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“I hate that everyone calls it growing up, but it seems like DYING.” 31 likes
“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.” 27 likes
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