Friday, July 8, 2011

Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

I was going to give up this blog and stick with the two sites I mentioned in my last post. As I was transferring reviews around, I realized how limited those sites were. There are things I can share here that I can't really share on Goodreads or LibraryThing. There are some great features to those sites but I can only review books that they have in their databases. Sometimes I come across books sold by the author or, as the case is now, be given an ARC that isn't available. So here I am. I'll share the same reviews here as I do on those sites (or vice versa) but will add things here that don't apply on the other sites. It's a little more work for me but reading is my passion and sharing what I read brings me joy.

Spellbinder by Helen Stringer
Spellbinder was an amazing book. Helen Stringer did a great job of creating a story that is frightening, funny and wonderful. It's a touching story of a young girl who can see ghosts. She feels like an outcast and works to separate herself from her classmates. Her ability works in her favor when her parents are killed. They pretend they are a normal family until all the ghosts disappear. Belladonna wants to save her parents but no one will tell her what is happening. She and her friend Steve opt to do it on their own.
The journey mixes in some old mythology with some new ideas. It's a quick lesson in learning to trust and learning to be cautious. The two have unusual chemistry. They are such good friends and on this great adventure but they are challenged in ways they didn't expect.
At one point Belladonna cries "But I'm only twelve years old." It was so easy to forget how young they were. The book follows a sort of prophecy-like format but the kids involved have no idea who the Spellbinder and it's Paladin is or how they are involved. Right up to the end, they question and wonder.
There's a great realism with these two children. They are willing to try anything to help save the ghosts and the world but they don't think of themselves as heroes or warriors.
The story is not full of that many twists and turns but it does keep you reading. There's a number of struggles which kind of reminds me of Wizard of Oz. Not that the stories are similar but that you have an idea of where the journey is going - it's what happens on the way that makes the story great.
I will say that there were some weak spots in the writing but I can't say for certain that they are obvious. I've been doing a fair amount of editing lately and researching how to edit better so those particular parts may have just triggered my internal editor. They weren't enough to turn me away from the book or to prevent me from recommending this book.
The main character is female but I believe that this story will appeal to boys and girls. There's lots of action and age appropriate interactions.

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