Zack, Poppy, and Alice have been friends forever. And for almost as long, they've been playing one continuos, ever-changing game- a game that takes place in a world populated with pirates and thieves, mermaids and warriors. Ruling over them all is the Great Queen, a bone-china doll imprisoned in a cabinet, cursing those who displease her.
But the three friends are in middle school now, and Zach's father is pushing him to give up make-believe for basketball. When his father gives him no choice, Zach quits the game and lies about the reason. It seems like their friendship might be over, until Poppy declares she's been having dreams about the Queen- and the ghost of a girl who will not rest until the bone-china doll is buried in her empty grave.
And so Zach and Alice and Poppy set off on one last adventure to lay the Queen's ghost to rest. But nothing goes according to plan, and as their adventure turns into an epic journey, creepy things begin to happen. Is the doll just a doll, or is there something more sinister at work? Has Poppy been telling the truth, or is she tricking them into playing a new game? And if there really is a ghost, will it let them go now that it has them in its clutches?
Author: Holly Black
Page Count: 244
Genre: Middle Grade, Horror, Adventure
**This was originally planned to be out during Halloween, life got in the way so that is why it's a bit late.**
I may be a 20-something- year-old, but that doesn't mean I can't sit down and enjoy a "Middle Grade" book. I have heard great things about the author Holly Black, but I had yet to read any of her work. Halloween was upon us, so I decided it was time to find something creepy to read. Thankfully this beauty was sitting on display right inside the door of the local library. Nothing like offering creepy and scary books to young children... not a bad idea at all. *Watches mothers cringe at the thought of late night calls because of bad dreams*
Going in with the expectations of it being for younger children, the bar was set kinda low. Most middle grade books are great reads, but they have that certain element that can hinder older children or adults from enjoying them. Thankfully, this was not the case for this book.
The cover alone had me hooked, mainly because china dolls creep me out. (Thanks to my older sister who loved to taunt me about the dolls that kill you.) So here is a story about a china doll, made out of a girl's bones, that posses one of the children. Yep, sounded creepy enough for me.
Beginning from page one, I enjoyed this story. It didn't have some of the older situations you would find in Young Adult or New Adult books, but there was a bit of drama woven into the story. The good part about the problems in this book, excluding the haunted doll and going on an adventure, most of it was something most people go through. The problems of figuring out when to grow up.
The main reason I liked this story, besides the beautiful writing, was the fact that the story centered around these 3 children's imagination. They had their own story, acting it out with action figures and dolls, a never ending story...or one they hoped wouldn't end. Why did I like this part so much? It was something I did during my childhood. I had dolls and stuffed toys and made up stories with them, it was the fun part of being a child. Reading this made me have a nice dose of nostalgia.
Having parents thinking you need to move away from the story you are creating, or that fear of having friends or peers finding out you still play games like that, is something most children face. Having the characters go through this and finding a solution was what helped make this story a great read. Especially since the large audience for this book would be children around the same age as the characters with the same problems. (Again, excluding the haunted doll. If there is a haunted doll in the mix...they need to do more than read this book.)
I can't say this was the best read of the year, but it was definitely one of the books that made the lists of a must read. Especially for those who enjoy a good adventure book with a little ghostly activity. It wasn't as scary as I hoped it would be, but that was not a surprise considering the age the book was written for. However, I do give it a good 4 out 5 stars for me! Looking forward to reading more books from Holly Black, but maybe next time I'll make sure it's a Young Adult book.