Apparently, one time, Poppy had woken in the middle of the night and found her sister—with whom she shared a room—sitting upright in bed. "If she gets out of the case, she'll come for us," her sister had said, blank-faced, before slumping back down on her pillow. (1.37)
The incident with Poppy's sister occurred in the past, before the book even begins, which means the Queen has loomed creepily in their imaginations for some time.
While he stared at her, trying to figure out if he was imagining things, her lashes fluttered once, as if stirred by an impossible breeze.
Or as if she was a sleeper on the verge of awakening. (1.64-1.65)
Maybe there is a slight shift in the air that makes the Queen's eyelashes flutter. Except she is in a closed case… Excuse us while we turn on all the lights.
"When you drive past a cemetery, you have to hold your breath. If you don't, the spirits of the newly dead can get in your body through your mouth and then they can possess you." (3.46)
Poppy clearly enjoys freaking Zach out with superstitions and scary stories. Is her tale about the Queen just a creepy prank to get him back for being mean to her? How can you tell?
He glanced over at Alice. She was leaning against one wall of the shed. "Poppy saw a ghost," she said. (5.35)
Zach always thought the Queen seemed pretty creepy, so he finds Poppy's ghost story pretty convincing. Do you?
"Her hair was blond, like the doll's, but it was tangled and dirty. She was wearing a nightdress smeared with mud. She told me I had to bury her. She said she couldn't rest until her bones were in her own grave, and if I didn't help her, she would make me sorry." (5.45)
Poppy saw the ghost of Eleanor in a dream. Was a ghost really trying to communicate with her as she slept? Or was it just a nightmare? And what about the fact that Zach dreams about her, too?
"Well, I'm not going to talk to the blonde, so you better forget that idea. I don't like the way she's looking at me. She's going to tell you that she'd never hurt anybody, but don't you listen. She'd hurt you all right. She'd hurt you and she'd like it." (6.59)
Tinshoe Jones, a man the trio meets on the bus, is probably drunk, mentally ill, or both. Still, it seems odd that he talks about the Queen like she's a real person.
Had a ghost really trashed their campsite? Was Eleanor watching him out of the Queen's glass eyes? A chill shivered up his spine. (8.55)
Did the Queen trash the kids' campsite? Or was it just a raccoon or another animal? It was probably just an animal. Right. Right?
"Do you believe in ghosts?" he asked, keeping his voice low. "Because I think I do now. For real and for sure." (9.7)
Of the three friends, Zach is the most suggestible. It doesn't take much to convince him that ghosts are real.
He knelt down with a shudder at the thought of her lying directly underneath where he'd slept, as though she might reach up her tiny porcelain hands and drag him down through the couch cushions. (15.6)
Zach seems to think the Queen means his harm, which seems unfair. What if she were just reaching up to give him a hug?
Instead of his regular skin, he saw a face made from cracked white china and black holes where the eyes should have been. (15.73)
Zach has a bit of a moment when he finds the Queen in the girls' bathroom. Is he hallucinating because he feels tired and stressed? Or is his scary reflection in the mirror real? Either way, we're officially creeped out.