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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

Published September 29, 2009 by Feiwel & Friends
ISBN 9780312387631
384 pages
Series? Yes
Rating: PG
BUY / Nook / Kindle

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.

I bought this book a few months after I received the second book of the series. I found the second book interesting but I could not bring myself to read the two books out of order.

I did not really understand that the book was set in England when I was first reading the book. There is nothing beside some odd wording to give it away. The point that I realized that they were not in America was when it only took three hours to drive to her house from London. Impossible otherwise. At this point I seemed to magically notice that Belladonna was calling her mother mum. I wish it had been a little more obvious.

The only reason the plot goes anywhere is because Belladonna knows nothing. Absolutely nothing. Her parents don't even tell her why her family can see ghosts and what bugged me the most is that Belladonna just accepts it. She has no desire to find out the truth. In fact if it was up to her she would tell everything that she knew to the adults and then take a nice vacation underneath her bed so that no one would be able to make her do anything interesting. Too bad that the adults are doing a worse job than her at fixing the problem.

They do such a bad job that whenever Belladonna has information that would be vital to their investigation they ignore her. In fact I don't think that a single adult, including the ones related to her, felt anything with out a dash of annoyance. What kind of aunt can't even stop to listen to their niece? A very bad one. Aunts are supposed to be the ones who listen to you when other adults write you off but in the Spellbinder Aunt Deirdre is the most contemptuous of Belladonna.

Not even the people her age listen to her. There are ghosts for crying out loud and yet both Elsie and Steve think that everything she suggests is absolutely ridiculous. Yet when they have off the wall ideas and Belladonna says that it is impossible she must be stupid.

Another thing that bugged me was that Belladonna was the main character and yet she did not really have a main character kind of roll. I felt that Steve dominated the entire book. He got to do all of the cool things, hold all of the awesome magic artifacts, and he got to figure out everything. Which begs the question of what was the point of Belladonna?

I loved the idea of the book. It was interesting, something that I have never read before, and I was obviously sucked into the world. I felt for every character at one point or another and wanted to pound them twice as many times. I could not stop reading even when I was bugged by what was happening and I could not wait to find out everything that was going on. I just got very annoyed by the characters.  However I still think that this book is worth the read because the plot more than makes up for the frustrating characters.

Spellbinder was obviously a series because many questions were not answered and I hope to find them out in the sequel. The book is neatly tied up at the end with the typical happy ending but I can't wait to see what problems are in the sequel.

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