20 Nov 2023



The only girl who can save her has no idea who she is ...

Bibi Blair is a fierce, funny, dauntless young woman-whose doctor says she has one year to live.

She replies, "We'll see."

Her sudden recovery is a medical miracle.

An enigmatic woman convinces Bibi that she escaped death so that she can save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell. But who is Ashley Bell? And what exactly does she need saving from?

Bibi's obsession with finding Ashley sends her on the run from threats both mystical and worldly, including a rich and charismatic cult leader with terrifying ambitions.

In a nutshell the story of Bibi Bella, a young woman who, told she has an incurable brain tumour one day, awakes the next day after a strange experience in her hospital bed to find she is cured; her life saved in order that she can save the life of someone else, the someone else being the Ashley Bell of the title. The only thing is bad people {and possibly something even more sinister} are after Bibi, their mission to stop her from finding Ashley no matter what the cost.

An author who I am of course aware of but up until now whose books I had never read. At 646 pages or if you prefer 130 chapters long, some of them only two or three pages long, this is one of the longest books I've read this year. 

Left scratching my head at times, wondering just what was going on. Whilst, for the main part, entranced by the plot I didn't think it flowed particularly well; something that certainly wasn't helped by the super short chapters that bounced between different characters perspectives OR the fact that the author kept wondering off on these odd diatribes {their personal politics/philosophies creeping in a bit?} that, unless I was missing something, seemed to have nothing to do with the story. Not that these odd diatribes were the only 'distractions', there were countless others that seemed to serve little or no purpose let alone advance the story ... but more of that later. 

Told from multiple points of view, the main action shared between the heroine of the story and her fiance, I thought the characters a bit meh!

Struggling to get Bibi, it was until the latter part of the book that I began to understand her motivation and I thought her fiance, Navy SEAL Paxton, a bit of a non entity really. As for the myriad of other characters, some I'd liked to have seen put to better use; others I thought of as surplus to the story; the baddie, well, I don't think he'd have been out of place in a Scooby Doo cartoon.

Why then did I rate the book as highly as I did?

Whilst the star system is something I choose not to use on Pen and Paper, it is a necessary evil on certain sites such as GoodReads on which I rated the book ⭐⭐⭐⭐.

Having finished the book I actually sat for several hours, mulling over what I'd read, trying to figure out whether or not I'd actually enjoyed it. The conclusion being ...

Thinking about all of those bits that seemed to have no bearing on the plot, I came to appreciate just how cleverly Ashley Bell was in fact written; that all of the aspects that at the time seemed unimportant, irrelevant even, were in fact anything but.  

A mythical journey of two worlds; 'the known world and the supernatural world that shadowed it' in which we get to see to see two Bibis, one in a coma, the other in pursuit of evildoers, definitely weird; M. Night Shyamalan weird.  

Despite any misgivings I may have had I actually enjoyed this story at the heart of which there is an exploration of the question 'how much are we actually able to write our own stories'.

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Karen said...

How interesting!!

I love books that kind of upend your own thoughts and stick with you in the end.

nightwingsraven said...

While keeping in mind what you
said about your reservations
about this book. This still
sounds like an interesting
story and thank you for your
excellent review.

Kelly said...

I use to read everything Dean Koontz wrote, but haven't picked up one in quite a few years now. Maybe I'll get to this one someday.

DMS said...

I haven't read one of his books in years- but I did go through a phase when I read a lot of his work. I am glad that after sitting and thinking about it- you enjoyed the book. Sometimes I find myself thinking a lot about a book and realize it was better than I actually thought. :) Thanks for the review.

Literary Feline said...

I read a lot of Dean Koontz when I was a teen and new (as I guess they call it now) adult. It's been ages since I last read one of his books though. This sounds like a good one.