From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8–After Zibby is mysteriously compelled to spend all of the money that she had been saving for inline skates on an old dollhouse, she discovers that it is inhabited by a malicious doll that seems bent on causing harm to the 12-year-old, her family, and her friends. This doll is the ghost of Miss Honeywell, a cruel and bitter woman who was once the governess of young Primrose, the original owner of the dollhouse in 1919. As the entity becomes more powerful, Zibby and her friends try to solve the mystery of the dollhouse before her family is destroyed. This theme has been explored in many books, including Betty Ren Wright's shorter but more chilling The Dollhouse Murders
(Holiday, 1983). The story begins strongly with an air of menace, but the suspense isn't maintained throughout the rather long narrative. Readers will probably stick with it, though, due to the easy flow of the writing and the likable characters; this is not just a ghost story but a tale of kids trying to adjust to new stepparents and stepsiblings. The plot gets cluttered as more ghosts pop out of the woodwork, but the stray ends are all tied together at the dramatic but contrived climax. A good choice for libraries with a high demand for thrillers.–Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
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Gr. 4-7. A dollhouse takes a dark turn in this novel that will please mystery fans as well as readers who like ghost stories. Zibby Thorne can't understand what possessed her to buy this antique dollhouse on her twelfth birthday, and why was it so cheap? Soon, Zibby hears strange voices, and horrible things start happening. The dollhouse is clearly haunted. A parallel tale, set in 1919, alternates with Zibby's story and explains the past events that are influencing the dangerous goings-on. This has such a glut of both plots and characters that readers may find it difficult, especially in the beginning, to keep all the relationships straight (e.g., two new friends, though of the same age, are aunt and niece, and Zibby's cousin and new stepsister are not dissimilar). What will keep kids going are the key elements of mystery: What will happen next, and how will the culprits be discovered? On these points, the book scores, keeping tension high and offering several ingenious twists on the road to the conclusion. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved