Book Review: Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

spellbinderTitle: Spellbinder
Author: Helen Stringer
Genre: Middle grade fantasy
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC through Shelf Awareness
First line: It was Wednesday.

Belladonna Johnson, the main character in Spellbinder, can see ghosts. And it’s not creepy, only inconvenient, because she often can’t tell the difference between a dead person and an alive one – and it doesn’t exactly make you fit in with your peers if you often appear to be talking to someone who’s not there. Her gift, which is hereditary, is particularly handy because her parents are dead. And although she still grieves the loss of being able to hug them, they are still waiting for her every day when she comes home from school. The school authorities believe she lives with her grandmother, who also has the sight.

Belladonna’s world is turned upside-down when suddenly the ghosts start to disappear – including her parents. Her father’s last words are, “The doors are closing.” Belladonna, with the help of Steve, a boy from school, and Elsie, one of the only remaining ghosts, goes on a quest to the Land of the Dead to discover why the ghosts are gone – and how to get them back.

I read Spellbinder aloud to my four kids, and although it took a little bit for us to get into it, once the story grabbed us, we were hooked. Belladonna, Steve, and Elsie make an odd team – and their interactions made for some humorous situations. The author has created an unique world with its own history and myths and symbols, and the last few chapters had my kids hanging on my every word, wanting to know how things were going to turn out.

When I said, “the end,” Noah’s first words were, “Is there going to be a sequel?” He was very happy when I checked the author’s web site and discovered that book two has been sent to the publisher and she is currently working on book three.

(I received an ARC of Spellbinder from the publisher for the purpose of review. The above link is an Amazon affiliate link. If you click on it and subsequently purchase anything, I will receive a small percentage in commission.)

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21 Responses to Book Review: Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    Oh, how sad that her parents are disappearing! If your kids are asking for sequels, that is a good sign. It sounds like a fun book!
    .-= Sandy´s last blog ..Monday Movie Meme – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly =-.

  2. Kathy says:

    I love that your son wanted a sequel right away! I’m glad the book lives up to its fabulous cover.
    .-= Kathy´s last blog ..Our Life in France – banking, money and numbers =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Kathy – the cover is great. Mine’s an ARC, so it’s just a plain cover. 🙁

  3. Jo-Jo says:

    This sounds like one that I would have enjoyed as a kid. One that I remember reading in grade school that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately was Seven Spells to Sunday.
    .-= Jo-Jo´s last blog ..Review: My Antonia by Willa Cather =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Jo-Jo – I would have loved it as a kid, too. That’s one of the things I love most about reading aloud to my kids – I get to still experience some great children’s lit.

  4. Belle
    Twitter: msbookish

    This sounds like a good read. I was at the local bookstore recently, and saw a book in which the main character could see ghosts, but it didn’t have a storyline that was appealing. This book definitely does have a good storyline!

  5. Charlotte says:

    I liked this one too!
    .-= Charlotte´s last blog ..The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schiltz =-.

  6. heidenkind says:

    I read a MG book where the main character saw ghosts but couldn’t really tell if they were alive or not once, too. But I can’t remember the title. 🙁
    .-= heidenkind´s last blog ..Urban/e Vampires =-.

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  8. Aine says:

    i have this book only its called the last ghost its the exact same book and im reading it at the minit im half way through. Its a good book i cant wait to find out what happens at the end but all this travelling from world to world it a bit annoyin lol!

  9. Helen
    Twitter: hcstringer

    I’m so glad you all liked it! I just finished the page proof for the second book, “The Midnight Gate.” Reading the first book aloud for the audio version made me realize how many bloopers I had missed, so this time I have been veeeery careful. (Famous last words.)

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Helen – the kids will be excited to hear that book two is closer to coming out!

  10. Helen
    Twitter: hcstringer

    The ARCs of Midnight Gate will be out this month. Just saw the first draft of the artwork for the cover, too. It looks great. Lots happening at the moment – I just did my first school visit this week as well. Loved it!

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