Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Review: Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

Move over Harry Potter!!  Belladonna Johnson is here!  This delightful book (an ARC) arrived earlier this week, and it looked so fascinating that I moved it to the top of the queue, and bumped a couple others I was reading to the side.  I finished this in a day.   It's billed for 9-12 yr olds, YA LIT, but this is going to be enjoyed by all ages from about 9 up (I'd be more inclined to say 10 or 11 but....)

Belladonna sees ghosts...she sees her parents, who died in an accident 2 years ago, but who still live at home with her and take care of her, although officially, she lives with her grandma who is still alive and who also sees ghosts. She sees the old man who used to run the launderette and various other friends no one else can see.  It can be embarassing though--all the kids at school think she's loony because she's always 'talking to herself.'

Things are going just fine, until her parents disappear to the Land of the Dead (THE OTHER SIDE) and she sets out to find them, and to prevent other dire and drastic occurences from happening.  She is accompanied in this adventure by another ghost Elsie, who 'died' tripping over a tennis net 100 years ago when she won her match, and by Steve--the school's bad boy who turns out to be very handy at breaking and entering and climbing and slaying hounds, and all those other things a spare manchild can be useful for.

This is a delightful book.  I don't read a lot of fantasy, but this one had me turning the pages as fast as I could gallop along to find out what happened next. There are beasties, and baddies, and wicked Queens, and spells, and elixirs, and magic rulers.  Everything one needs for a good old fashioned ghostie fantasy. It it due to be published this month, and I suspect it will become a runaway big seller.

Finally, I noticed--happily--that the ending left plenty of room for further adventures.  I hope so. Belladonna is a real winner.


  1. Oh, so glad to hear you enjoyed this one! I received a copy last week too (Shelf Awareness) and haven't gotten around to it yet. Thanks for the review.


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