Creepy Doll action with a male protagonist (mostly).
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, Zachs father
throws out all his toys, declaring hes 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 which claims to be 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 . . .
The main and important thing that is missing from the above summery is the Game. The trio (no, they never refer to that in the book) have this elaborate story going on which they act out with dolls which is the main reason Zach is so upset that about his father throwing out his toys. (From the honest point of view of twenty year old, I'd still be playing with dolls if I hadn't moved when I was 12 and they some how never made it into the house. Instead I write more and go through session of watching others play with dolls on Youtube).
Zach instead of telling Poppy and Alice the real reason the Game is over, lies to them, saying he doesn't care about the game anymore. The Doll a.k.a. the Queen of their kingdom turns out to be haunted and leads them on to a quest.
The main theme is growing up and change, partly afterlife. Both are very depressing. The growing up theme includes drastic changes, growing apart and first romance which I ignored mostly as I'm actually still an eight year old that's not at all interested in that.
I'm a big fan of creepy dolls that are haunted and compared to all the other ones I've came across this doesn't really cut the mustard if solely basing it off that. I just don't think a real creep level is ever reached. Stuff happens but never constantly, though it is meant to be in question on whether or not the whole thing with the doll is actually true. You meant to wonder if Poppy has made the whole thing up with the purpose of leading Zach back into the game. I suppose its a better mystery than a horror (even twelve year level).
There are few very unrealistic things that happen, which can be let to slide since this is a kid's book and makes the plot more interesting. I just say "Bus station" and "harbor" which will make sense once you read this book.
The three main characters are well defined. I personally think the strongest part of book is their friendship and the issues they work out through the book. Twelve is that awkward age where a lot of friendship from childhood can die or be severally weakened (Of course this tends to happen in Scotland more to do with this being the age to start Secondary school, but still). There hints of deepness to the characters, however this being a 250 page book, the hints were fine.
There are some lovely illustrations in this book by Eliza Wheeler. Petty and creepy. I do have a favorite illustration but it bit of a spoiler if I say which one. If actually interested its the one that features the label that been in my last four reviews (including this one).
Overall, I gave this books 4/5 stars. A few minor problems with it, but its still very good books. I probably eventually get my own copy, but not for a while as I'm broke and spent my petty book fund on Sherlock Holmes (I regret nothing).
Disclaimer: I got this book off NetGallary. So for free for Review. Don't worry that doesn't effect my opinion at all.