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Doll Bones

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  27,443 ratings  ·  4,237 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, 256 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
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Letícia Cabral Either because he was crazy af or because he really loved his daughter and thought she deserved better than what she had...
Kim sargent It wasn't horrible for me and I am 10! So whoever is saying that has NO imagination! And if they don't they need to get one!…moreIt wasn't horrible for me and I am 10! So whoever is saying that has NO imagination! And if they don't they need to get one!(less)

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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  27,443 ratings  ·  4,237 reviews

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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. ...more
Hannah Greendale
Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been playing make-believe for as long as they've been friends. With pirates and mermaids, thieves and warriors, their imaginary realm is ruled by the Great Queen, a bone-china doll Poppy's mom keeps locked in a cabinet. When their dreams reveal the bone-china doll is haunted by a girl who longs to be buried with her deceased family, Zach, Poppy, and Alice set off on a real adventure to lay the girl to rest.

Doll Bones doesn't shy away from the macabre and there are qu
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Micah Francis
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I was hesitant going in because it is a middle grade book. I was pleasantly surprised. This book pulled me in immediately. The writing was amazing and I loved the illustrations. Three friends play an imaginary game. When Zach can no longer play, the game is over. Until Poppy has a dream about the bone China doll that acts as the queen of their game. Thus begins their quest and creeping happenings along the way. This book was fun and the writing was perfect. Recommend for every ...more
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, ebook
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
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

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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 availabl
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing

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
This reminds me a little of John Bellairs stories. It is about kids with the unknown and supernatural stuff happening to them. I enjoyed this read. It was pure fun.

Zac, Poppy and Alice use toys and action figures to make up stories. It's really about the joy of imagination. Well, Zac's dad doesn't get it an he throws all his toys away saying it's time to grow up. So they think the game is over.

Poppy is having dreams about a very creepy doll that is supposedly made out of bones. They then go on

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.
May 19, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: wishlist
Holy FUCK, I need this book!!!
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
How have I never seen this book before? Ugh, I hate me.

Doll Bones was such a fun book to listen to! Maybe it's my love for anything written by Holly Black but I was geeking out when I saw that this book was available to listen to! Even if dolls scare the crap out of me.

Heck, even the characters were interesting and lovable throughout the entire book. I really liked getting to know Zach, Alice, and Poppy. The only thing that creeped me out was the freaking queen. Lord, she was so creepy and I at
Sara (sarawithoutanH)
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018

I really enjoyed this book! I haven't had much luck with other Holly Black books in the past, so this one surprised me. It's a book that I would have loooooved as kid. I was super into spooky stories. I really liked both the characters and the writing. I just wish there'd been a little more ghost activity. The story felt like it was missing something for me. But, overall, I thought this was really cute and I had a lot of fun reading it.
Gory B Movie
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Miranda Reads
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook

Halloween is just around the corner and it's time for some spooky books - but which ones are worth your time? Check out this BookTube Video for answers!
The Written Review

Holly Black is just my fave. She weaves a delightfully creepy tale.

Review to come.

Audiobook Comments
Read by Nick Podehl - and he did a really nice job at making the creepy parts sound spooky.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Brittany McCann
Another Holly Black weird success. If I was younger I would have probbaly rated it higher, but it was for a pretty young audience: Middle grade/Teen age. I love the idea of the dolls and the way that the friends bond together over their game. A fun little holly black style adventure for sure!
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Barb Middleton
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
 Danielle The Book Huntress
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
Kristina Horner
Apr 25, 2015 rated it liked it
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
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
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
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! ...more
Benji Martin
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Strong 6 out of 10

Doll Bones is a book about three friends named Zach, Poppy, and Alice. Together they all play with their toys and make up magical worlds. One day, Poppy says that she's been cursed by a doll. She claims that they have to go to the doll's grave and bury her, or they'll be cursed forever. Together all of them go on this big adventure to try and find the doll's resting place.

Book Cover

This book was decent. The horror elements were done very well, and the book was great at creating a sens
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
rachel ☾
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2-star, audiobook
I know a lot of older readers avoid middle grade stories because they feel ‘too old’ to be reading them. I’ve always scoffed at those types of readers because a truly good story should be accessible to all readers. There is no age limit on adventure.... but Doll Bones with its twelve-year-old protagonists made me feel old, despite the mere five year age gap between me and the characters. I struggled to get invested into this story and, as much as I tried, I could not relate to either Poppy, Alic ...more
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
Robert Davis
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
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Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty fantasy novels for kids and teens. She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award and the Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. Her books have been translated into 32 languages worldwide and adapted for film. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house ...more

Articles featuring this book

Prolific fantasy novelist and faerie world cognoscente Holly Black is back with the final installment of her wildly popular The Folk of the Air...
156 likes · 15 comments
“I hate that everyone calls it growing up, but it seems like DYING.” 43 likes
“He wondered whether growing up was learning that most stories turned out to be lies.” 35 likes
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