Book Review (#10): Doll Bones by Holly Black

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This is my third time writing this review, due to my dependency on WP’s autosave option that doesn’t seem to be doing much for me these days. So I’d like to apologise in case this review feels a little forced or disintegrated; re-rewrites are not my strong suit.

When I first made the decision to request Doll Bones, I was quite aware of Holly Black’s reputation, even if I’d never read any of her other books. That made me thrilled. This book seemed to promise a horror children story, which made it sound even more intriguing. We’re told in the summary that the centrepiece of the story is a doll made up from real ground up bones of a little girl and filled with her ashes. Just the mention of that made a shiver run down my spine, and I was genuinely scared to start the book.

Then I did. And it wasn’t at all anything I expect. Doll Bones, to me, was more adventure than horror with one element of a horror story –the antique doll. Most of the time, we were focusing on the friendship of Alice, Poppy, and Zach (which I miraculously still remember the names of). They’re what made me stick with the book; they’re my kind of characters. Introduced as almost-teenagers who like to play with toys and weave stories for them and create a background story for each of them reminded me of myself –I did it for book characters that I liked, and I’d say I was a little bit older.

Anyway. To an extent, it reads a bit like a coming of age story. What prompts the quest that the children embark on is Zach’s reaction to something his father did. And as a boy his age is always reminded to behave, he tries to take it like a man, locking away his emotions and consequently alienating his best friends a little. And throughout the journey, we get to see the way their friendship moulds under the stressful, potentially life-threatening situation, and it changes the way they see each other.

The story is action packed but not to a point that it’s obnoxious. Still, there’s very little eerie happenings or impending doom. And all the attempts to make it scary didn’t come off as too scary to me, and I kept on finding that disappointing.

The ending was kinda nice what with its being symbolic and all. They were trying to bury the doll, the queen of their game, and to me, it was them trying to put their childhood behind them and try to accept each other in this new light of adolescence. This quest was so that they’d make it out with a bang, so to say, and to have this one lasting memory of glorious victory before everything had to change.

All in all, it was an okay book. It could’ve been a lot better and I’m sad I didn’t like it more. Still, I do know that Holly Black is a great author as the book is written really well, so suggest what else I should read from her!

This review actually turned out okay, I think. Let me know how you found this book!

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