Published: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been friends forever. And for almost as long, they’ve been playing one continuous, ever-changing game of pirates and thieves, mermaids and warriors. Ruling over all is the Great Queen, a bone-china doll cursing those who displease her.
But they are in middle school now. Zach’s father pushes him to give up make-believe, and Zach quits the game. 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.
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 something more sinister? And if there really is a ghost, will it let them go now that it has them in its clutches?
My Review: I'm a huge fan of Holly Black's Curse Worker series so when I heard about this book I just had to read it even though I don't typically read middle grade books.
This book was unbelievably easy to get lost in and it was very easy to connect to Zach. Anyone that remembers the time when they still liked playing with their childhood toys but knew that they should be too old for them would be able to connect to him. Holly Black really nailed his voice. The fear of growing up and loosing what he valued most was captured perfectly. It brought back memories of when I was told that I was too old for my toys and when I used to play pretend with my friends.
Out of the three main characters Zach was the easiest to connect to and definitely my favorite. My only problem with him was when he didn't tell Alice and Poppy about what his father did. I didn't understand why he thought they would be mad. It wasn't his fault so they had no reason to be mad at him. I liked Alice and I somewhat tolerated Poppy but in the beginning it was really difficult to tell them apart. As the story progressed it got easier but occasionally I would mix them up.
The quest to bring the doll to her empty grave was what really made this book enjoyable. From Zach's POV it looks like Poppy is convinced that the ghost is real and the book makes you want to believe the ghost is real too but there was this nagging thought in my mind that the ghost wasn't real. Almost every time something happened with the doll Poppy was the last one to see it or Zach was asleep. There's evidence for both opinions and I just loved that. It left it up to the reader's imagination and normally I don't like that but it worked for this book.
I wasn't expecting this book to be very creepy since it is a middle grade book, but some parts of this book actually gave me chills. I don't know how a doll made out of a dead girl isn't at least a little scary. The doll was just so wonderfully creepy and I'm so glad I wasn't disappointed by it. It was almost like a mystery because the kids don't know much about the ghost girl and while on the adventure they discovered more about her.
Not only was this book creepy but it was also pretty cute. It was cute how Zach didn't know about Alice's secret (even though it was pretty obvious). It was cute how Poppy, Zach, and Alice still played together even though they are all around twelve years old. I'm not sure how cute and creepy go together but in this book it just did.
I'll read basically anything Holly Black writes now even if it is another middle grade book. I just love her writing and I love how she's able to create a convincing male main character.
*I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway