Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .
Holly Black tells a wonderfully chilling story of three friends, Zach, Poppy and Alice, and a creepy china doll that turns out to contain the remains of a dead girl. It has the same eerie quality as Coraline or The Graveyard Book, a story that will appeal to adults and children alike.
Poppy, Alice and Zach have been best friends for years, playing imaginary games involving pirates, mermaids and queens, but their friendship is put to the test when Zach’s father throws away his toys. Angry and embarrassed, Zach refuses to play the games any more, but when Poppy is visited by the ghost of a girl who was killed by her father, and whose bones were used to make a doll. This is the china doll which acts as the Queen in their games, and the ghost tells Poppy that it needs to be buried in her grave otherwise
The three lead characters are really well-crafted and believable, children on the cusp of adolescence and dealing with the awkwardness and strained friendships that come with it. It’s a delightful combination of an adventure story, a ghost story, and a coming-of-age tale, and brilliantly written. Despite it being a children’s story, I found the doll and the ghost genuinely sinister and it’ll definitely appeal to fans of the Goosebumps books.
Holly Black spins a fun and engaging tale of friendship and adventure, with relatable characters, and it’s perfect for the target age group. Creepy without being outright terrifying, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read and a brilliantly told story.