Today’s review is of the novel
by Holly Black
Zach, Poppy, and Alice are best friends. They get together, playing a game where they’ve created fantastic worlds, where characters go on dangerous quests, and try to please the evil queen—represented by a real bone-china doll in Poppy’s house.
But things are changing. Being in middle school is straining their friendship. Zach’s father doesn’t think it appropriate for Zach to continue with the game. The strain this causes to the friendship is only exacerbated when Poppy declares that she is having terrifying 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.
When Zach, Poppy, and Alice set off on a cross-state adventure to put the Queen to rest, they know they will stop at nothing until it’s completed. The further they get from home, the more terrifying the quest becomes. Will the three adventurers be able to cope with all the hardships of a real adventure?
What I liked
This story was delightfully creepy. I loved the premise of it and there were some fantastic details. The worries and concerns of the characters were very believable. What middle schooler isn’t worried about new feelings, being awkward not only in their own bodies, but in their personalities, drifting apart from friends, and what it means to ‘grow up’.
The quest was definitely that—an adventure. I was worried the entire time, feeling the same tensions that the characters felt, hoping they would pull through all right, wondering if it was all a story simply made up to keep the game—and the friendship—going.
What I didn’t like
The only issue I had was the lack of parental guidance or adult assistance. There was a lot of bad in this story—creepy bus riders harassing the kids, unhelpful policemen, borderline abusive and definitely negligent parental figures. It was sometimes hard to cope with it just being a story. The fact that these kids could get on a bus at something like 3 am and not have it be questioned is a bit worrisome.
Ok, ok. I know it’s just a fictional story, but it’s still an issue to consider.
Also, they broke into a library. I suppose as far as safe places go, that’s not a bad one to consider. But, they kids are breaking and entering; and that’s not something to be dismissed lightly. Luckily, the Librarian in the story was responsible—she fed them, made them call their parents, and tried to keep them in one place while the parents came to retrieve them.
Overall, this was a great story. Plus one for adventure/horror stories, games reminiscent of D&D, and librarians.