Zach, Poppy, and Alice have played a make-believe game (which has no name) together for years. Their game uses action figures as the characters, and a bone china doll whom they call the Great Queen. The Great Queen has the power to curse anyone who displeases her, well, in the game anyway.
But Zach's father thinks that Zach should "grow up" and stop playing with action figures and play more basketball instead. Zach's father decides to take matters into his own hands, and throws all of the action figures into the trash without telling Zach, while Zach is in school.
When Zach gets home after school and realizes his figures are gone, he gets mad. And then he realizes that without his figures, he can't play the game anymore! This is terrible! Zach and the girls are the best of friends, and this has been their tradition for years. What can he do?
Zach decides to lie to Alice and Poppy about why he can't play. He simply tells them that he doesn't want to play anymore. After that, ties are split for a while, until...
A few days later, Poppy announces that she's been dreaming about the Great Queen; she dreamed that the Queen was actually the ghost of a little girl named Eleanor, and that Eleanor had told Poppy that her spirit needed to rest. But that can't happen until the doll is laid into Eleanor's empty grave.
The grave is empty because Eleanor's father took her bones and made them into the doll.
The three friends go on an adventure to East Liverpool, Ohio (the location of the grave), by boat and bus, in hope of finally letting Eleanor's spirit rest, and on the way, they discover things that they never knew about each other...
Doll Bones is (yet another) novel about a trio of friends going on an adventure. The author perhaps borrowed the "haunted doll" thing from the "Child's Play" movie series (?), except this doll doesn't kill anyone. Not that kind of book.
The book is a bit creepy, and the front cover illustration makes it look like a horror novel. This book would fall under the "horror" category... if you were eight years old. For anyone over eight, this novel will be a suspenseful adventure story. Doll Bones may give you a feeling, a leering feeling, like there is just something there, waiting for you...
Daddy's afterthoughts: This 2013 Newberry Honor book is the product of Holly Black, who co-created the Spiderwick Chronicles. This book has been decorated with a veritable slew of awards. It's a spooky read for younger readers, but older pre-teens will like it just fine. But it's not just a creepy-spooky story that involves a haunted or possessed doll; this is also a story about relationships and friendships in the tween years, that awkward time between childhood and teenager-dom. A wonderful read for ages 8-13.