Saturday, February 27, 2010

Book Review: Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

*ARC provided by publisher*
Spellbinder is the story of a very unusual girl.  Belladonna lost her parents in a car crash about a year ago.  But, she's been coping with the loss very well - mostly because they are still around.  Mom and Dad still make her dinner and help with homework.  In fact, things are just like normal, except that they happen to be ghosts.  But, when all the ghosts start to disappear, Belladonna, with the help of her classmate Steve, has to travel to the Other Side to get them back.

Things I Liked:
It was a fun and quirky story, with unusual characters and a promising premise.  I liked the worlds the author created and the ghost lore, mixed in with a bit of Greek mythology.  At times, the story was exciting and I wanted to know what happened to the characters.  I think Belladonna is really the whole reason I wanted to finish the book.  I liked how she seemed very average (or at least thought she was), but really had so much potential she had to discover.  Pretty much, like a lot of us.  Despite the sometimes dark nature of the story, the humorous interactions between the characters tend to lighten the mood.

Things I Didn't Like:
For the most part, however, this book did not interest me.  I found the story lacking in a spark that could draw me in.  This might be because I put it down for a week or two and then picked it up again.  Sometimes the writing was beautiful, but other times it was repetitive or old-fashioned or just strange (the word suppurating was used twice and I could manage to figure out what it meant by context, but a MG kid might not).  While the plot was fun, I thought the fantasy details were often not clearly described or simply confusing.  The story showed a lot of promise and the ending indicated sequels were on the way, so I have hopes the next one will improve. 

Reminded me of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
a little bit scary

Overall rating: **

Do you enjoy middle grade books? Did you when you were in middle school?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. I debated this one; I didn't want to read it. I love middle grade books, and that was definitely what I read in middle school. (Conford and Danziger were big!)

  2. I think that I loved them when I was younger too - and the really well written ones I still enjoy. I guess I just don't enjoy ones now that I know I would have when I was a kid.


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