Killer Spiders by Lex Sinclair

Title: Killer Spiders
Author: Lex Sinclair
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 302 pages
Publication Details: January 31st 2013 by Austin MacAuley
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.


Great Britain, 2005. Huge, poisonous spiders are stealthily taking over. One bite is enough to kill a grown man; there is no defense and there is no antidote. They are immune to all pesticides; the only way to kill them is by fire or blunt force.

People find it hard to believe as more reports come in from all over the country. But once the spiders make themselves known, they are in for a fight to the death. With the spiders multiplying and outnumbering the humans, taking over towns, will mankind survive?

Just looking at the cover of this book makes me shudder. I was hoping it would be a skin-crawling read for Horror October, and in parts it was, but unfortunately it was also a struggle to get through.

Britain is being overrun by gigantic, deadly spiders, and at first not many people pay attention – there are worse things happening in the world – and hey, they’re just massive spiders, right? Err no!

As someone who HATES spiders, I found it hard to get on board with this lackadaisical approach, but it’s not long until people come round to my way of thinking and realise that an invasion of killer spiders is totally not cool, and must be stopped. But y’know, easier said than done.

I can certainly see this story being played out in a Syfy channel creature-feature b-movie (which I love by the way), but as a book it didn’t quite work for me.

In the very beginning it reminded me a little of Stephen King because were are introduced to a lot of characters very early on, but none of them stood out and I found it hard to get invested in any of them. And the frequent changing of perspective was a constant annoyance.

However, there were some great action-packed gorey moments in Killer Spiders which kept me reading, and made me glad that I did.

Sinclair did a great job in detailing the spider attacks in a delightfully disgusting and gorey manner, but I think overall characterisation and lack of suspense is what let it down.

unicorn rating 2

Killer Spiders is available now in paperback from Waterstones

Horror October, The Finale: You’re Next (Part 1)

When I asked my good friend Graeme to write a review of the film You’re Next (a film that we’ve watched together and enjoyed immensely) for Horror October, he was all too happy to get stuck in. I’m not sure he really needed to spend an entire week watching horror films in the dark in preparation, but who am I to argue?

What Graeme, affectionately known as Biggie (it’s not what you think…no, not that either), actually came up with was a whole lot better than just another review


You’re Next (Part 1)

It was back in 2007.

Deep in my postgraduate lull, I am holed up in my parents’ cottage in the remote Scottish countryside. It’s a cold, quiet night, but then it always is. The closest neighbours are the cows in the back field, who only really cause a stir when their calves are being taken from them (and whenever that happens, it’s the worst noise imaginable).

Since being here, when I’m not complacently watching hours of sitcom reruns, I half-heartedly tend bar at a local pub, serving pints to grizzled farmers who physically recoil at the mere mention of ‘London’.

It’s fair to say that post-grad bemusement at my circumstances has allowed the stench of complacent superiority to settle around my shoulders. I indulge this most every evening, pithily mocking my listless, bumpkin existence to the delight and curiosity of Big City friends on MSN Messenger, a bottle of something strong at my side.

It was business as usual on this fateful night, except I had been left alone to babysit two West Highland terriers. The elder was lolled by the study door, her old deaf ears sagging on the carpet. The pup insists on my lap, which is fine as long as I can reach the keyboard and the whiskey bottle.

A light comes on.

Somehow too near or too bright to just be the security lights out front.  Then the pup leaps noisily (and painfully) from my lap, 0-60 in seconds, rumbling urgently through the corridor. I follow, annoyed. The kitchen light is on. The kitchen light that I remember turning off after I let the dogs out earlier. Flies and moths gather otherwise, you see.

Just as I rationalise that maybe I did leave it on, the pup springs past my legs and starts clawing at the back door. When I crack it open, she noses herself out and swoops through the night, to all intents and purposes chasing something.

Now, I’m no fool. I’ve seen horror movies.

I don’t leave the house in such circumstances without picking up a weapon of some description. So, armed with a broom, I follow the little furry barker out the door.

It was only when the back door was out of sight – a mere ten steps – that I realised that I was, in fact, a fool. You see, I’ve seen horror movies. If someone wasn’t already inside, they will be now.

Or maybe they’re in the garage, outside of which the puppy has planted her puppy-hind. Specifically, three safe metres away from the wide open garage door, giving her options. Still noisy. Still aggressive. Making one hell of a stink, but no way is she shortening those three safe metres.

What was previously assertive, scattershot yapping, like usual, is now one long, strangulated growling; a noise caught midpoint between fear and the instinct to attack. Held in that indecisive spot, drawn out, but decidedly aimed in the same direction, at one target.  Something inside the cavernous black of the open garage.

As I move tentatively closer to the garage, every step incenses the puppy more. She’s flipping out. Almost literally flipping, like those toy dogs that used to be Christmas presents.

Now, I’m no fool. I’ve seen horror movies.

I know the dog always senses the malevolence first. I know the dumb human about to have their head hacked off always shushes them ignorantly, assuming superiority to their canine wisdom.

I discard my broom and make a sharp right turn to the greenhouse, blindly knocking over several things before I pull out a garden fork. It’s not an axe, but it’s weighty enough.  Thinking about it, a garden fork is probably easier to retract and re-stab into an assailant; I’ve cooked baked potatoes before.

Armed, I rejoin the pup, although she’s less intent upon the garage door than she was, instead scrambling at my leg, moaning, giving off a whole understudy-for-Lassie vibe. Telling me something. Bravely, I shout into the cavernous black – ‘SHOW… YOURSELF!’ – and immediately realise how underprepared for my impending doom I am.

No-one shows themselves. I tentatively approach. My fingers search the wall inside and I flip on the garage light. Nothing. And then – BAM! – a fucking bird flaps straight into my face and soars out towards the stars. I shake my head, laughing.

But then, a light turns on from inside the house.

A howl of pain electrifies the silence of the night. A cloaked figure appears at the window. A white mask, an immobile yet somehow taunting expression.

The window creaks open.

The figure raises an arm, and tosses out the severed head of an old, deaf West Highland terrier. Bouncing once, her head lands at my feet, her dry pink tongue lolling out of her open jaws. I find myself noticing how, even with her head detached from her body, her old eyes don’t really look much deader.

And then I fall back in disgust. I feel the vomit rise from my gut and then I watch it splatter out of me, onto the puppy who is scratching at my chest, begging me to do something.

When I look back up at the window, the figure has disappeared. But he’s let me know one thing:


That story is partly true. You can decide when it starts being fictional (although I will tell you that the dogs survived). But that realisation – that severed head, those two-and-a-half words, the moment that suspense gives way to terror – are the key to horror for me.

In the aftermath of my “ordeal” I realised just how deeply home-invasion horror had registered with me, how its rhythms and clichés – however hokey – dictated my behaviour and accelerated my grim imagination in a real-life situation. It’s been a durable genre, and one that has attracted a lot of pop psychology attention as to why, when it comes down to it, we feel so paranoid about our own homes.

In the next post, I’ll revisit some of the most unsettling home invasion movies, movies that keep us double checking our front doors. 

Sometimes, Graeme Reid likes his movies to be as cheap as his wine. When I asked him what I should write in this bio he described himself as ‘an erstwhile blogger and full time nurse person who would like to see what your insides look like’. At the very least, two of those things are true.

WWW Wednesday 29.10.14


To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m quite sad that this is the last WWW Wednesday of Horror October.

I hope you’ve been enjoying some creepy reads this month as much as I have!



Currently Reading:
I’m reading Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory, which is a gothic tale about a family who open a horror bookshop in a church after being given a box with Edgar Allan Poe’s tooth in it. So far, I’ve found this odd in the very best way, and it’s getting more and more disturbing as it goes on.

Recently Finished:
The last one I finished was Killer Spiders by Lex Sinclair. EEK. Review should be up by the end of the week.

Up Next:
The possibilities are endless. But, I’ll probably take a break from the horror reads for a while and go with Back to Blackbrick by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald.


What about you guys? Leave a link to your answers and I’ll come take a look!

Introducing… Morganville – The Series (Buffy fans rejoice!)

I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t know anything about this until the press release landed in my inbox. And man, I was pretty excited!

Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign and Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry, Rachel Caine has adapted the first book in her Morganville Vampires series, Glass Houses, into a web series comprising of 8-12 minute long episodes, which began airing yesterday.


Web series have been hailed as the new big thing for a while now, with the ability to reach a worldwide audience faster than any other format. You only have to look at the success of I Kissed a Vampire, Dr. Horrible’s  Sing-a-long Blog or the endless Netflix and Amazon Prime series to see that the way we watch TV is changing.

This Halloween, Morganville: The Series hopes to make a splash in the world of Webisodes…

The entire show was filmed on location in Dallas, Texas, in four separate venues, including a coffee shop, a turn-of-last-century Victorian home, a hospital,and a university, and I’m assured that nearly every episode ends with Rachel Caine’s infamous cliffhanger endings. But at least this time we won’t have to wait too long to found out what happens next. Hurrah!

But, how do you cram a whole book into such a small series?

“The first thing I tried to do, since I wrote the book in 2006,” said Caine, “was to write down everything I remembered from it without re-reading it. That was fascinating, because what I wrote down was really the core story, and that turned out to be what needed to be told in the show.”

It’s also pretty hard to believe that the whole thing was filmed in just 10 days.

Glass Houses was our first introduction to Morganville – a town riddled with vampires. The book centers around Claire Danvers who doesn’t quite fancy slumming it in the college dorms, and is looking for a room. She finds one, and a lot more in the Glass House. We meet a whole host of fun, and some not-so-fun characters, who are intent on helping or hindering Claire in her quest to survive in Vamp town.

So, is the web series going to tell the whole story?

“For practical purposes, you can only have so many characters in a show with this running time, so some characters from the novel, while really interesting, ended up not being central to the plot (like Miranda). However, I did think it was important to introduce Myrnin, a fan favorite, into the mix early, so he makes a short appearance this season,” explains Caine.

Hold the phone, is that Amber Benson?

Yep. The awesome Amber Benson, who you should all know as Tara from Buffy TVS landed the role of Amelie – the sort-of vampire queen. PERFECT!

I really enjoyed these books and I can’t wait to check out the series. I plan on marathoning it on All Hallow’s Eve. Who’s with me?

In the mean time, here are the first two episodes to whet your whistle…





Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Reads

toptentuesday Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the image to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

For obvious reasons, this week the topic is: Top Ten Books/Movies To Read Or Watch To Get In The Halloween Spirit OR Top Ten Characters Who I Would Totally Want To Be For Halloween

I decided to go for Top Ten Halloween Reads, and I’ve split it between books I want to read, and books I have read and want to read again or recommend.

Books I Want to Read

1. An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman

A dysfunctional British nuclear family seek a new life away from the big city in the sleepy Somerset countryside.

At first their new home, The Hollow, seems to embrace them, creating a rare peace and harmony within the family. But when the house turns on them, it seems to know just how to hurt them the most—threatening to destroy them from the inside out.

2. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods – until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night.

Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.

3. The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

A fast-moving, eerie…tale set on Halloween night.

Eight costumed boys running to meet their friend Pipkin at the haunted house outside town encounter instead the huge and cadaverous Mr. Moundshroud. As Pipkin scrambles to join them, he is swept away by a dark Something, and Moundshroud leads the boys on the tail of a kite through time and space to search the past for their friend and the meaning of Halloween.

After witnessing a funeral procession in ancient Egypt, cavemen discovering fire, Druid rites, the persecution of witches in the Dark Ages, and the gargoyles of Notre Dame, they catch up with the elusive Pipkin in the catacombs of Mexico, where each boy gives one year from the end of his life to save Pipkin’s.

4. Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories by Roald Dahl

Who better to investigate the literary spirit world than that supreme connoisseur of the unexpected, Roald Dahl?

Of the many permutations of the macabre, Dahl was always especially fascinated by the classic ghost story. For this superbly disquieting collection, he selected fourteen of his favorite tales by such authors as E.F. Benson, Rosemary Timperley, and Edith Wharton.

5. Eating Sarah by Jaret Martens

Ever since childhood, all Sarah wanted was to participate in the Hunt—a monthly ritual in which her people sneak into a nearby city to gather food. Only in Sarah’s world, that food is human.

After her first Hunt ends in catastrophe, Sarah is forced to prepare their captives for slaughter. While this once would have been an easy task, recent events have caused Sarah to question whether or not she’s still capable of murder. Worse, she finds herself caring for Troy: a captive she knows she will be forced to kill.

But she can’t leave. Doing so would mean the deaths of both Troy and her family. With cannibals turning up dead—and suspicions of mutiny rising—Sarah and her family must be more careful than ever.

Yet there’s something not quite right about her family . . . Something that might just get her killed.

Books I Want to Reread/Recommend

1. Zombies Vs Unicorns

It’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories.

Half of the stories portray the strengths–for good and evil–of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies.

Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan.

2. The Crow: The Lazarus Heart by Poppy Z. Brite

At our human limits, when we’ve gone as far as flesh and imagination can take us, we meet the Eternal One. The Crow.

Immemorially old, and inconsolable, he is there only for those who seek both revenge “and” love, and are willing to go all the way–and beyond.

The Lazarus Heart.

Five, four, three, two … Jared Poe counts the days on Louisiana’s Death Row. The controversial S&M photographer has been condemned to die for killing his lover. He doesn’t know who did it. Only that he didn’t.

Can he clear his name and find the real killer in time?

3. The Gates by John Connolly

Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Halloween which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Road.

The Abernathys don’t mean any harm by their flirtation with the underworld, but when they unknowingly call forth Satan himself, they create a gap in the universe. A gap in which a pair of enormous gates is visible. The gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just itching to get out…

Can one small boy defeat evil? Can he harness the power of science, faith, and love to save the world as we know it?

4. The Pool by T.S Rue

Dying for help…

A moment later Eric surfaced in the middle of the pool. “Ta da!” he said, treading water. “I touched the bottom. Have I made my point? There’s nothing to be scared of.”

The words had hardly left his lips when his eyes widened in alarm. He thrashed wildly towards the side of the pool.

Then he began to scream…

5. Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick


From the author of The Lifeguard comes the exciting suspense novel about Martha.

Not long after Martha moved into the Bedford house, the phone calls began: Trick or treat, Martha. You’re dead. Elizabeth Bedford had been murdered one year earlier, on Halloween night, in the very same room. The murderer was never found, and now the killer is back–for Martha.

Spotlight: The Goth Girl Series by Chris Riddell

Being unemployed – which I newly am – is good in the sense that I can wander around bookshops during the week as much as I wish, but bad in sense that I can’t actually justify spending any money right now. 😦


My will power was really put to test when I saw the beautiful Goth Girl hardbacks on display in my local Waterstones this week. WANT!

The second book in the series, Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death was released on September 25th, and is Waterstones’ Children’s Book of the Month.

How perfect are these for younger readers this Halloween!?

I mean, look how pretty…


Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death

GG2Preparations for the Ghastly-Gorm Garden Party and bake-off are under way. Celebrity cooks are arriving at the hall for the big event and, true to form, Maltravers, the indoor gamekeeper, is acting suspiciously. Elsewhere at Ghastly-Gorm Ada’s wardrobe-dwelling lady’s maid Marylebone has received a marriage proposal. Ada vows to aid the course of true love and find out what Maltravers is up to, but amidst all this activity, everyone, including her father, appears to have forgotten her birthday!

About the Author

Chris Riddell was born in Cape Town, South Africa, where his father was an Anglican priest and a member of the ANC. The family moved to England in 1963, when Riddell was one year old, and he spent his childhood in a number of different locations, as his father moved between parishes. Both of Riddell’s parents continued to be active in the anti-apartheid movement.

Chris Riddell is an internationally acclaimed writer and illustrator whose many awards include the Nestlé Gold Award and two Kate Greenaway Medals—the most prestigious prize for illustration in the UK. He is the creator of more than one hundred books for all ages, including the immensely popular series the Edge Chronicles and his latest chapter book series, starring the irrepressible Ottoline Brown, which School Library Journal called “exceptional.” Chris lives in Brighton, England, with his wife and three children where he invents his amazing characters in a very tidy shed in his yard. (Goodreads)

What Are People Saying About Goth Girl?

“Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is one of the best children’s books I’ve read this year. Possibly *the* best. Aside from its truly beautiful presentation, it’s a fantastic gothic story with unusual characters, clever writing and amazing illustrations. The whole package really is a work of art.” – Wondrous Reads

Both illuminated and illuminating this is a magnum opus from the singular talent of Chris Riddell and is certain to be the jewel in the crown of every book case it adorns.”

– Droplets of Ink

“Love. Everything.” – Sarah Churchill, Goodreads

Click on the banner to read the first chapter for free!

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Lazy Saturday Review: Dark Satanic Mills by Marcus & Julian Sedgwick

Title: Dark Satanic Mills
Authors: Marcus Sedgwick & Julian Sedgwick
Illustrators: John Higgins & Marc Olivent
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 176 pages
Publication Details: November 2013 by Walker Books
Genre(s): Graphic Novel; Dystopia
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it.


Set in a near-future Britain, Dark Satanic Mills tracks a young girl’s journey from the flooded landmarks of London to the vast, scorched and abandoned hills of the north. Framed for a murder she did not commit, the innocent and beautiful Christie has no other choice but to run for her life. Both a cautionary tale and a rip-roaring road trip, Dark Satanic Mills is altogether an intelligent, captivating and thrilling ride – The Wizard of Oz for a new generation, told in exhilarating shades of light and dark.

I’m not a regular graphic novel reader, but I’m a huge fan of Marcus Sedgwick so I was intrigued to see his work in this format.

Dark Satanic Mills is set in future Britain and whilst on the run, protagonist Christie happens upon a document that could unravel the hold the True Church – a kind of religious fascist dictatorship – has over the entire nation.

With the help of do-gooder Thomas, Christie heads to the north, through dark, desolate streets and violent gangs, to spread the truth about the True Church.

I loved almost everything about Dark Satanic Mills. The story was dark and full of action, and I loved that I knew all of the locations in the book, being a northerner myself. The artwork was gloriously grim, and I loved the William Blake references (it’s based on his poem Jerusalem).

The only thing that I didn’t like was that I was left wanting more. Much more! It didn’t feel like a complete ending, which is fine if they continue with the story but I don’t know if that’s on the cards.

This graphic novel will take you on a journey through a scary, broken Britain. A journey to discover the truth. Don’t forget your helmet!

unicorn rating

Dark Satanic Mills is available from Waterstones now.

Vampires to Die For

You should all know by now that I’m a fan of the cold (but hot) fangy ones, so it should come as no surprise that I’ve lined up a vampire post this Horror October. What might come as a surprise, however, is that you may have missed some of these vampire films. Silly you!

They have the three S’s in common; sexy, seductive, and stylish to boot.


1. The Hunger (1983)



Miriam, a centuries-old vampire, preys on urban clubgoers with her vampire lover John. When John suddenly ages and wastes away, Miriam casts her spell upon Sarah, a doctor who researches premature ageing. This neo-Gothic exercise in style and atmosphere is perhaps most widely known for a lesbian sex scene involving Miriam and Sarah, played by Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. (IMDB)

I’m genuinely shocked every time someone looks at me blankly when I mention this film, considering the strength of the cast. I mean, Bowie..hello! Tony Scott’s The Hunger is more 80’s than the 80’s, and a bit of mind-fuck, but what it lacks in plot, it makes up for in smoke machines and mood lighting. It’s worth it for the leather alone. 


2. Kiss of the Damned (2012)


The vampire Djuna resists the advances of Paolo, but soon gives in to their passion. When her trouble-making sister unexpectedly comes to visit, Djuna’s love is threatened, and the whole vampire community becomes endangered.

You can be forgiven for thinking that date is wrong and this film is actually a Hammer Horror offering from the seventies. Clearly that’s what they were going for, and they do it successfully. Like the classic Hammer Horror’s of old, Kiss of the Damned has a dubious, thin plot. But, who needs a good plot when you have leads who are vampires in the shape of French models and Peter Petrelli. Unlike the classics however, Kiss of the Damned has some pretty kinky, graphic sex. Fit!


3. The Addiction (1995)

vamp3A New York philosophy grad student (Lili Taylor) turns into a vampire after getting bitten by one, and then tries to come to terms with her new lifestyle and frequent craving for human blood.

I remember watching this allegorical little vampire story in my bedroom at my parents house when I was definitely supposed to be sleeping, not watching films inappropriate for my age. I remember thinking how awful it was, but I was transfixed none-the-less. Even then, I knew this was pretentiousness at its best, but now I can at least appreciate the philosophical elements of it a little more. Plus, I will always appreciate Christopher Walken’s haircut. For the LOLZ.










4. Frostbiten (2006)




The extensive IMDB synopsis for this Swedish film is Vampires terrorize a city in Norrbotten. Thanks IMDB.


When you think Swedish vampire film, you probably think Let The Right One In, but this effort came two years prior to that and is much more enjoyable in my opinion. I mean, I liked LTROI but it was a bit artsy fartsy for my liking. Frostbite, has it all. It’s funny, stylish, gorey, and the effects aint too shabby either. Seriously, give it a whirl, it’s a riot. 


5. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)


A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance – which has already endured several centuries – is disrupted by the arrival of uncontrollable younger sister.

I can’t really be angry at those of you who haven’t seen this one because I haven’t either. But I fully intend to remedy that ASAP! It sounds like it has all the elements of a vampy cult classic. And that’s just because of the amazing Tilda Swinton.


Do you have any favourite underrated Vampire movies to add to the list?

Horror October Weeks 2-3

I kind of forgot to post the week 2 round-up, so here is a double whammy in case you missed anything. We wouldn’t want that now, would we!

Horror October Week 2-3 round-up: 8th – 21st (Click on the images to view the post

Revisiting The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (Review)




Guest Post: When the 90s Come Back to Haunt You




Top Ten Tuesday: To Visit or Not to Visit (10 creepy book locations)?




Friday Feature: Must See TV




Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner (Review)


Friendship is a Haunted Doll


Doll Bones by Holly Black


Title: Doll Bones
Author: Holly Black
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 256 pages
Publication Details: February 27th 2014 by Corgi Childrens
Genre(s): Children’s; Supernatural
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed a copy.


My name is Eleanor Kerchner.

You can call me the Queen.

I died in 1895.

Now it’s time to play.

A chilling ghost story by the bestselling author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black.

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, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s 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 – who claims that it is 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 . . .

I loved everything about this book in theory. Unfortunately in reality, it didn’t quite deliver.

Doll Bones is very much a book with a message, or rather multiple messages.

Zach’s often absent father is back in his life and decides that it’s time for Zach to grow up. He believes he’s too old to play with action figures and dolls, and should be playing basketball instead of hanging around with his two female best friends.

So, in a moment of madness, and without warning, Zach’s father throws away all his toys, ending Poppy, Alice and his ongoing game of make-believe. Whilst Zach is trying to come to terms with this Poppy believes an old china doll they call The Queen is possessed with the spirit of a girl who was murdered, sending them on a real life spooky adventure.

I’ve heard Holly Black talk about this book and the messages within it, so I should have known what to expect. But I was a little disappointed. I didn’t expect these messages to be so blatant and overbearing. I realise that Doll Bones is aimed at a sightly younger audience than the books I usually read, which could explain it, but I really wished the story had a bit more of an edge.

I feel like the cover art and the synopsis suggests that this book is a lot more spooky than it actually was. I mean, I’m terrified of china dolls, so the idea of a doll made out of the ground-up bones of a little girl, and possessed by her should have at least resulted in a slight shudder, but it just didn’t.

It was too nice.

I’m sure if I’d read this when I was nine I would have liked it a lot more, but I still think I would have wanted more of the creep-factor.

That being said, it was a really adorable story about the pressures of growing-up and how it can affect even the closest of friendships. I also thought it was written really beautifully, so all is not lost.

I definitely want to read Holly Black’s YA books. I’m certain they’d more to my taste.

unicorn rating 3

Doll Bones is available in hardback and paperback at Waterstones now.