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Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

Spellbinder (edition 2009)

by Helen Stringer

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15422115,233 (3.66)18
Authors:Helen Stringer
Info:Feiwel & Friends (2009), Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:hardcover, summer 2013

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Spellbinder by Helen Stringer


Ghosts (120)

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» See also 18 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
My copy of Spellbinder has the original cover, which gave an impression of a book quite different than this one. The newer, blue cover is far more accurate in illustrating the novel. (That's what I get for judging a book by its cover.)
It is a book of strengths and weaknesses. Stringer is a good writer, and keeps the story moving swiftly, describing events and settings clearly, so one never feels lost, even in the strange worlds she evokes. Belladonna is a likable protagonist, and her cohorts, Steve (living school friend) and Elsie (ghost) provide a nice contrast.
The story is essentially a quest saga. As the novel opens, we learn that Belladonna sees ghosts. Lots of them. Including her dead parents, with whom she still lives. The saga starts pretty quickly as the ghosts begin to rapidly disappear. Belladonna feels she must find out what is going on and stop it. With the help of the almost delinquent Steve and one mysteriously remaining ghost, Elsie.
The problem for me was that the quest sent the characters all over the place, and every time they seemed to be in a really tight bind, rather than a clever plot twist to save them, in most cases something inexplicably magical would occur. Too much magical or supernatural goings on with no explanations - or explanations that felt thrown together after the fact.
Also, with few exceptions, I am not a fan of series books. I like a book to have a beginning and an ending. This story does wrap up most things, but there are a number of smaller loose ends that are clearly left to be resolved in the next book. ( )
  fingerpost | Jul 6, 2016 |
Not tremendously well written or well edited, but the ideas, like a girl living with the ghosts of her dead parents, are so interesting that they are keeping me wanting to know more. I'm more than half-way through now, and I'm still really interested. Odd things keep happening, and I can't see where the story is going, and I like that! ( )
  Inky_Fingers | Mar 1, 2014 |
Everyone at school feels sorry for weird Belladonna Johnson. Her parents were killed in a tragic car accident last year and she lives with her grandmother. At least, that's what they think. Actually, Belladonna's inherited power to see ghosts kicked in right after the funeral - and she lives with her parents, same as always....except for the drifting through walls thing. Belladonna is terrified that someday she'll start talking to someone, realize they're a ghost and no one else can see them, and be forever branded as the ultimate school weirdo.

But suddenly that's no longer a problem: all the ghosts are disappearing. With the help of Steve, an incipient juvenile delinquent, Elsie, an old school ghost, and her own mysterious and unexpected powers, Belladonna must try to save the ghosts - and the worlds of the Living and the Dead.

This was a fast-paced, enjoyable adventure fantasy with plenty of humor. It has lots of little British "bits" slang and little cultural things for anglophiles to enjoy. While in some ways it's fairly predictable; female outcast becomes powerful sorceress heroine, amiable but apparently useless boy becomes warrior hero, etc. etc., the writing is seamless and Stringer easily blends two separate and familiar plots, the classic fantasy quest journey and the newer paranormal abilities theme, into a fun adventure. The ending felt a little hurried, with the sudden introduction of various powerful goddess-type characters like the Nomials, but it fit in with Belladonna's relatives never telling her anything. There were a lot of loose ends, like Aunt Dierdre's involvement with the Hunt, Steve's mother - what's going on there? but presumably they'll be addressed in the next book.

Verdict: Recommended for fans of Harry Potter and the many new ghost books coming out.

Some favorite funny bits, mostly about Steve.

"Steve took it all in stride with a 'this-too-shall-pass" attitude that made it all but impossible for anyone to motivate him to do anything at all."

"'Considering how often you're in trouble, I would've expected you to put up a better show,' said Belladonna, walking away. 'There's not usually any point,' explained Steve. 'I reckon it's better to just fess up, take whatever they're dishing out, and get on with things. Explanations usually just extend the agony.' 'Oh, well,' said Belladonna sarcastically, 'at least you've thought about it.'"

"Just....you know, minor infractions."
There was silence for a moment, then the braziers flared up, the orange flame turning red.
"Such as the explosives on Mr. Morris's shoes?" boomed the voice.
"Or the spiders in Philip Jones's desk? Or the treacle in Sophie Warren's shoes? Or the mass release of the lab mice?"
Steve began to smile in happy recollection as his greatest hits were recited.

ISBN: 0312387636; Published September 2009 by Feiwel and Friends; ARC provided by publisher at ALA; Purchased for the library; Added to my personal wishlist
  JeanLittleLibrary | Dec 30, 2011 |
This book is about a girl named Belladonna and she could see ghosts. She did not care for this power. Be until she finds out all ghosts have vanised plus her parents. She and her new friend steve and her ghost friend Eli go on an eventer to go find the ghosts. But on the way the nice friendly man who helped them Ach was up to it all. Now with the amulit and Belladonnas friends they go to defet Ach. with all Belladonna's power she said the words of power and stoped Ach. Belladonna reilized that her power isvery importent to her life and most of all ghosts.

I gave this book a five star because it kept me on my toes. Thinking what will happen nexted. And when it something great happens my heart stars beating fast and I read faster. And when it's over I feel like I had just ran. This was so intertaning. I was heart brocken when it ended. I wish it could go on with the story. I wish the book could never end. ( )
  Alexis.Goodro | Oct 12, 2011 |
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. ( )
  WarBetweentheBooks | Sep 26, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Jennifer McConnel (VOYA, February 2010 (Vol. 32, No. 6))
Belladonna Johnson is a quiet, reserved girl who holds herself apart from her classmates--not because she is snobbish or rude but because she is terrified that she would reveal her deepest secret if she had friends. The secret she guards so carefully is that she can see and speak with ghosts. Not just the ghosts of her parents, who died tragically in an accident, but all ghosts. Long-dead ghosts, forgotten ghosts, and modern ghosts fill Belladonna’s world until one day, when the ghosts mysteriously vanish, and Belladonna is forced to confide in a classmate in order to solve whatever is wrong on the “other side.” With the help of a varied cast of characters, including a Greek oracle, her dead grandfather, and her rather imposing aunt, Belladonna embarks on a magical quest that could either save or destroy the world of the living, not to mention other realms, as well. This charming debut novel blends classic British fantasy with figures usually reserved for horror stories to create a compelling fantasy adventure romp which will appeal to middle grades readers. Although the characters and the quest are strangely reminiscent of the early Harry Potter novels, this book is sure to hook readers and leave them waiting for what must certainly be a sequel, if not a whole series. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2009
added by kthomp25 | editVOYA, Jennifer McConnel (Feb 1, 2010)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Helen Stringerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fortune, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Etha  whose adventures are just beginning.
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It was Wednesday.
The thing about going to school is that it doesn't give you enough time to think about the important stuff. (p. 26)
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Book description
Twelve-year-old Belladonna Johnson, who lives with the ghosts of her parents in the north of England, teams up with an always-in-trouble classmate to investigate why all of the ghosts in the world have suddenly disappeared.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312387636, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:02 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Twelve-year-old Belladonna Johnson, who lives with the ghosts of her parents in the north of England, teams up with an always-in-trouble classmate to investigate why all of the ghosts in the world have suddenly disappeared.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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