Reading Level: Middle Grade
Size: 256 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
I was really excited to read this book. I have been a huge fan of Holly Black’s books (especially her Modern Fairy tale and Spiderwick series) and was excited to see what she came up with next. This was a good book and eerily creepy, it didn’t blow me away but it was entertaining.
Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been friends forever and love playing creative games of fantastical adventure with their action figures. However, as they grow up their friendship is being torn apart. When Zach’s father throws his action figures away it’s the last straw for Zach, he refuses to play. Poppy in a desperate maneuver to save their friendship takes a mysterious china doll (that they in their game they have dubbed The Queen) out of her box. However things take a dark turn when Poppy claims The Queen is haunting her. The Queen tells Poppy she will not rest until Poppy buries her in the grave of the girl whose bones were used to make The Queen’s china. So all three friends set off on a desperate adventure to put Queenie to rest.
This book is a well done and creepy story. It is about the creepy china doll, but even more it is about friendship and growing up. All of the kids have big issues with their families, and this final adventure helps them to grow up and understand the world a bit better.
Honestly I had some trouble engaging with these characters. This might be because this was such a short book and we hear from all three characters’ point of view. They came off as somewhat selfish to me. Poppy is very manipulative of her friends. Alice only goes on the adventure because she’s in love with Zach. Zach is pretty bitter (and a bit clueless about the girls) through the whole thing.
The story is very, very predictable. Things end exactly as you think they will. The adventure the kids go on is brief and honestly not all that magical. Mainly they spend time trudging through urban and suburban landscapes trying to find The Queen’s grave. As soon as I felt like I was starting to get engaged in the adventure…then it was over.
The Queen is very well done and extraordinarily creepy. If you are already creeped out by china dolls or dolls in general this book might totally freak you out. The Queen seems to move when no one is looking, destroys things when people are sleeping, and even takes over people’s minds a bit.
As I mentioned above this book is mostly about the pressures and expectations of growing up and how that can put stress on a friendship. It was a decent story and the idea was a good one, I just had trouble engaging in it.
Overall an okay creepy, adventure read. The Queen is really well done, but I had a lot of trouble engaging with the characters and the plot was very predictable. The story is really more about growing up and friendship than about creepy hauntings. I would recommend for middle grade and older kids because the story is about a young girl being murdered and the doll is super creepy. This was an okay book, but by no means my favorite Holly Black book. It was lacking in a lot of the wonderful description her books normally have.