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Book Cover Image: Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

Title:  Spellbinder

Author:  Helen Stringer

No. of Pages:  372

First Released:  October 2009

Synopsis (Courtesy of B&N):  “Belladonna Johnson can see ghosts. It’s a trait she’s inherited from her mother’s side of the family, like blue eyes or straight hair. And it’s a trait she could do without, because what twelve-year-old wants to be caught talking to someone invisible?

It is convenient, though, after Belladonna’s parents are killed in a car accident. They can live with her the same as always, watching the same old TV shows in their same old house. Nothing has changed . . . until everything changes.

One night, with no warning, they vanish into thin air—along with every other ghost in the world. It’s what some people think ghosts are supposed to do, but Belladonna knows it’s all wrong. They may not be living, but they’re not supposed to be gone.

With the help of her classmate Steve, a master of sneaking and spying, Belladonna is left to uncover what’s become of the spirits and to navigate a whole world her parents have kept well-hidden. If she can’t find her way, she’ll lose them again—this time for good.”

Comments and Critique:  I think I found another new series.  And it’s not even about vampires or werewolves!  It does have ghosts, but it is an unique take on the purpose behind ghosts that kept me turning the pages.  In fact, I love the purpose behind needing ghosts in our world.  Given my fascination with the supernatural, Ms. Stringer’s take on them has more than a hint of plausibility that makes it oh-so-appealing. 

Spellbinder is heavy with British slang.  Normally, that sort of thing does not bother me, and I can almost always figure out what is meant by the phrase just by the context.  I struggled with this book and found that because I was unfamiliar with certain words and phrases that were supposed to be quite commonplace I was taken right out of the story.  Considering this is a children’s series, I question the heavy use of slang because I am not certain how many 10-year-olds are going to understand what Ms. Stringer means.

Another caveat – this is a kid’s series, which means that the character development, plot development, syntax and phrasing is not as adult as I would prefer.  At times, it was downright clunky.  However, this did not prevent me from finishing the book in one day.  In fact, I couldn’t wait to finish it and give it to my son to read.  (If I can bribe him, I would really like him to write a review of it, so that everyone can see what a member of the target audience thinks about it.)

Even though it is meant to be followed by additional books, I found Spellbinder quite fascinating as a stand-alone book.  I do plan on continuing the series as the books are published, but I was very impressed with the detailed other world Ms. Stringer created.  Equal parts eerie, scary, and intriguing, I really could not stop myself from reading.  I highly recommend this to any fantasy lovers out there looking for a quick and easy read.

Thank you to Ksenia Winnick at Feiwel and Friends (via Shelf Awareness) for sending me a copy to review!

Has anyone else picked this up yet?  What did you think?

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