Creepy cover, eh?
I'm a doll lover and I was a doll maniac as a kid so anything about dolls intrigues me (I also saved every single doll I ever got, Barbies included, for the daughters I would one day have - and then I got only sons! Grand-daughters, right??)
So I would have picked this book up even if I wasn't hearing buzz about it. Of course, Holly Black gets buzz on everything she writes nowadays! (Did you see the book trailer on her new YA, THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLD TOWN? Yikes! CREEPY TIMES A THOUSAND!)
But I digress . . .
DOLL BONES is a well-written suspenseful novel. And yet, it's not all plot and danger and creepiness. It's much, much more.
Jack and Alice and Poppy are three best friends who have spent their childhood playing games of make-believe and going on pretend quests and making up adventure stories using their own dolls and action figures who are featured as pirates, knights and princesses.
The doll in the book is "Queen of the Land" and when odd things start happening the kids discover the back-story of how the doll was created from the bones of a girl who died "accidentally" almost a hundred years ago - and she's haunting the kids. They believe that in order to help the spirit of the little girl find peace (and quit haunting them!) they need to find the graveyard where she should have been buried. The graveyard where her parents are now buried. Yep, restless spirits and unhappy souls . . .
In order to find the graveyard of the town where the girl used to live with her father who was a ceramic pottery maker, the kids run away from home for two days, get in a lot of scrapes, miss buses, have accidents on the Ohio River, go hungry, and almost tear their friendship apart.
This novel has got a lot of emotion, especially considering the MC is the boy, Jack, who is torn between childhood and adolescence and his mixed feelings about playing make-believe and what his parents are pressuring him to do. Jack's pain is palpable when he is forced into giving up his adventurous game of make-believe due to the actions from his father (no spoilers, but how it happens BREAKS MY HEART!)
This is a story that I couldn't put down and thoroughly enjoyed. It's gotten starred reviews everywhere and there is also Newbery buzz. I'm not sure it will maintain its status as the best Newbery contender (only time will tell) and it's *not* as creepy as the synopsis or some readers have maintained, but it is a well-written book with several growing up themes that are perfect for this age group.
Maybe I didn't find it that scary because I personally adore mysteries and suspense AND weirdly enough I just finished revisions with my editor at Scholastic for a book that has a creepy doll in it! (I just saw cover art this last week and it's FANTASTIC! Wish I could share . . . maybe in a few months . . . :-))
The rest of the MMGM links are below!
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)
NOTE: I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!