Book Review: Doll Bones by Holly Black

Friday 21 November 2014

Doll Bones
Holly Black
Genre(s): Fantasy, Horror, Middle Grade
Published: February 27th 2014
Pages: 256
Rating: 4 stars

My name is Eleanor Kerchner.

You can call me the Queen.

I died in 1895.

Now it's time to play.

Holly Black delivers a story that manages to not only spark interest but to creep the reader out in Doll Bones.

The idea about the doll being made out of actual bone is enough to set the reader's hair on end, without scaring them stupid. Old dolls are creepy enough as it is, so I felt like this was a good choice of topic, considering that this is a middle grade book and the main characters aren't yet teenagers. I felt that the Queen, Eleanor, fit with Zach, Alice, and Poppy's personalities well (seeing as they all still played with dolls and made up adventures) and that she was a believable 'monster' for them to deal with, as she was already at Poppy's house. It also didn't feel like too big of an ordeal for them to face, which I enjoyed and felt made the whole thing that much more realistic.

I enjoyed the writing style; it kept me interested in the story and moved at a pretty fast pace throughout. Nothing felt overly complex or totally dumbed down, the extremes that can easily happen in middle grade books. Younger readers would be able to read it without feeling too confused, or like they were being treated like a baby. I did not, however, like the use of the word 'crap'. Nine times out of ten, I don't have a problem with profanity, whether it be gratuitous or not. The one time I do have a problem with it is when it is used in a book that's labelled as middle grade, which, according to Goodreads, is targeted to children between the ages of eight and twelve. Personally, I feel that children at that age shouldn't know about or be encouraged to use words such as that, regardless of how 'mild' they are. As a 17 year old reading this, though, I didn't mind. But anyway, I digress.

The illustrations by Eliza Wheeler were a nice touch as well. They were fun and cartoony and helped bring parts of the story to life. I liked how they weren't on every page or in every chapter, because it meant that when you did come across one it was more of a treat.

Probably what I enjoyed the most about Doll Bones was the fact that it followed a group of friends. It's not very often that a group of friends does something together in books aimed at a younger audience, so this was nice to read about. I also enjoyed how each of the characters differed to one another, it added diversity and realism to the story, making it easier to relate to the characters.

The story was refreshing, in a cute yet creepy way. Holly Black definitely knows what she's doing.

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