Title: The Blood Binding: A Belladonna Johnson Story
Author: Helen Stringer
Genre: Middle grade fantasy
Publisher: Helen Stringer
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the author
First line: It was raining again.
Goodreads blurb: Belladonna Johnson is getting used to being the Spellbinder. Saving the world, seeing ghosts, and taking regular trips to the Land of the Dead have become positively humdrum. But when she and Steve discover a girl who has been waiting two thousand years for someone to rescue her, they find themselves involved with Old Magic and people and spirits unknown to even the mighty Queen of the Abyss. This time they are on their own, and to make things even more complicated, it’s Halloween, the one time of year when ghosts can go wherever they want, which means it’s even more difficult for Belladonna to work out exactly who is alive … and who is dead.
Spellbinder, The Midnight Gate, and now, The Blood Binding – the boys and I have spent many enjoyable read-aloud hours with Helen Stringer’s characters. The boys love the humor and fantasy; I love that the books don’t “write down” to kids.
Belladonna and her friend, Steve, are together again in this short story that takes place after the events of The Midnight Gate. My boys were a bit disappointed that it wasn’t a longer book, and that it didn’t continue on with the series’ over-arching storyline, and resolve the cliff-hanger at the end of book two, but quickly settled in for the story once I started reading.
There are many things to love about this series, and one of the biggest is that Helen gets kids, especially the squeamish age group known as the “tweens.” This is vividly demonstrated by the fact that Steve, while showing courage and bravery when fighting their otherworldly enemies, is still afraid to be seen too often with Belladonna, the weird girl, at school. The humorous relationship between these two kids who have been thrust together in an epic destiny is one of the boys’ favorite things about the series.
I was also pleased that this latest foray into Belladonna’s world prompted the boys and me to do some internet research on bog bodies. A book that peaks my boys’ interest in history? Bonus!