Recollections: Reviews by a Book Lover

Review: Doll Bones by Holly Black

Doll Bones

Doll Bones by Holly Black

What it’s about:  Poppy, Zach, and Alice have been friends forever, and for almost as long they have been playing a continuous game with pirates, mermaids, and the Queen.  One day everything changes when Zach has to give up playing the game, but he doesn’t explain to Poppy and Alice why he has to stop.  Poppy and Alice are afraid Zach is moving on from them.  Then one night Poppy tells Zach and Alice the Queen (a bone china doll) is actually made from the bones of a little girl, and now her ghost is haunting Poppy.  Poppy tells them they have to go on a quest to find the girl’s grave and put her spirit to rest.

What I thought:  Everyone loves a quest, and everyone understands a quest.  So I understood why Poppy had to do this, and why despite the trouble they could get in Alice and Zach decided to go with her. Like all quests, things don’t go according to plan.  Thus a lot of adventure occurs as they try to find the grave.  But I’m not going to talk about that because you have to go on their adventure yourself.

Is the doll really haunting Poppy?  That’s something you will have to decide for yourself in the end.  I’d like to believe the ghost was real.  Don’t worry Holly Black does a great job in providing just enough creepy, it isn’t too much to really scare kids but it’s enough to give you goose bumps.

I really liked Doll Bones because besides the creepy it also addresses growing up.  How everything changes, not just physically but emotionally and mentally.  How sometimes we feel like our friends are changing and we are going to be left behind.  It’s hard to watch the people you have known all your life change, but it’s not necessarily bad.  We all grow up but that doesn’t mean we have to grow apart or that we have to stop playing.


Zombies, Oh My! Something Strange and Deadly

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

What’s it about: Eleanor Fitt goes to pick up her brother from the train depot in Philadelphia only to have one of the walking Dead deliver a note to her from her brother.  It seems whoever is raising and controlling the Dead have Eleanor’s brother.  Desperate to save her brother Eleanor seeks out the Spirit-Hunters who are protecting the city from the dead.


What I thought:  This book has a lot of the things I love: steampunk gadgets, Victorian time period, zombies, paranormal activity, a romance, and a female lead who doesn’t like to be told what to do.

Eleanor is desperate to find her brother and she will do whatever it takes.  However, this isn’t an easy task in 1876 Philadelphia for a female.  Her family is on the verge of losing everything, and her mother is looking to marry her off to a wealthy bachelor in order to keep their house.  So Eleanor must be careful to keep her reputation in tack, while searching for her brother.  I felt for Eleanor’s pull between what she must do for her family and what she wants for herself.   (I also enjoyed the unexpected romance which blooms between Eleanor and another character.)

The dead in this book aren’t your typical zombies.  These dead have been raised by a necromancer who is using voodoo.  The walking Dead the necromancer loses control over become the Hungry.  Unlike your normal rabid zombie these dead were raised by magic.  No virus was the cause of their rising, and while the dead can kill you, your body can only be reanimated by the necromancer.  Also this book is much lighter on the zombie gore than your typical zombie book.

The steampunk gadgets come in the form of Spirit-Hunter Daniel’s gadgets for battling the dead.  A shot to the head won’t kill these walking dead, rather the electricity which binds them to the necromancer must be cut, which is where the gadgets come in.

As for the other characters: Joseph is from New Orleans and was taught to use magic for good, and is the one with the power to stop the necromancer; Jie is a Chinese woman who dresses as a man in order to have the freedom Chinese woman are denied in the U.S. at that time.


Was this my favorite steampunk zombie book of the year?  No, but I will read the next book in the series because I did enjoy Something Strange and Deadly.   Dennard did a wonderful job keeping me caught up in the story.  At times I was unable to put the book down because I need to know what happened next.

Check out the official book trailer here.