Saturday, June 5, 2010

Review: Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

Belladonna Johson didn't think that the family gift for seeing ghosts was much of a gift until after her parents died in a car accident. Then it gave her the ability to continue to see and speak to them, living her life just like she had before the accident. But all of a sudden, Belladonna's world, heretofore peopled with ghosts and the living starts to thin out. The ghosts are all disappearing, including her parents, and only the living are left. Her grandmother and aunt are keeping something from her, something she knows is incredibly scary and terribly important. So Belladonna and her mischievous, always in trouble science partner Steve set out to figure out what is going on and how to not only make it stop but to reverse it. Moving between our world and the land of the dead, aided by the ghost of a girl haunting the school, Belladonna and Steve encounter good ghosts, bad ghosts, and supernatural creatures intent on destroying the world. They also discover a hidden, magical world that exists alongside our own.

There is a quest, heroism and all the makings of a modern middle grade myth here. Belladonna is a delightful heroine. Steve is annoying and funny. It is only his delinquency paired with Belladonna's dutiful studiousness that allows them access to the Land of the Dead to try to save the world. The adult characters are thinner than Belladonna and Steve in characterization and their knowledge and motivations are left frustratingly vague. The target age range won't find this terribly scary but they will be taken in by the charm and entertainment herein. While there were a few slow patches and some stereotypical bits including obstructionist adults unwilling to share knowledge with Belladonna, over all this was a fun read and one that would do well as the first in a series.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.


  1. I really enjoyed this one, too. I'm taking it to a friend's little girl in a week or so, actually - little girl heroines rule!

  2. I too really enjoyed this one - have it set aside for my granddaughter's annual visit later this summer.

    I hope we see more of her.

  3. This sounds like a good series! Thanks for the terrific review.


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