By: Dean Koontz
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 12/8/2015
My Rating: 5 Stars
From #1 bestselling author Dean Koontz—the must-read thriller of the year, for readers of dark psychological suspense and modern classics of mystery and adventure. The girl who said no to death. 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 astonishes medical science. An enigmatic woman convinces Bibi that she escaped death so that she can save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell. But save her from what, from whom? And who is Ashley Bell? Where is she? 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. Here is an eloquent, riveting, brilliantly paced story with an exhilarating heroine and a twisting, ingenious plot filled with staggering surprises. Ashley Bell is a new milestone in literary suspense from the long-acclaimed master.
A special thank you to Random House, LibraryThing Early Reviewers, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. A huge Dean Koontz fan, he returns following The City, landing on my Top 30 Books of 2014, with ASHLEY BELL --once again, crossing several genres--from psychological suspense, mystery, adventure, fantasy, literary, and thriller; with a multi-layered story of engaging lyrical prose, only Koontz can tell. The year Bibi Blair turned ten, twelve years before Death came calling—a writer of short stories, with detailed diary descriptions. She was a happy child, a stranger to melancholy. She did not fully come to understand her thoughts until after her twenty-second birthday. Much time would pass before she recognized some truths she had hidden away in her magpie heart. People hide truths about themselves from themselves. A coping mechanism, even when they are children at a young age. From Newport Beach, CA growing up in a picturesque neighborhood in a bungalow, her mind always stayed busy, spinning. She always carried a yellow lined tablet and a collection of pencils to compose, with her beloved golden, retriever. She writes stories about an abandoned dog named Jasper. Then one shows up. (she will call Olaf). She hides his collar. Olaf had died six years after her grandfather’s passing. Flash forward twelve years later, with Bibi Blair now twenty-two. She begins to feel bewildered. Paralysis. A tingling in her hand, arm, elbow. She sensed her was in mortal peril. A stroke? She felt she was going to a dark place. Every life was a story, after all---a collection of stories and not all of them tapered gracefully, to a happy ending. She had always assumed her life would be a tale of happiness. Would her assumption be naïve? Brain cancer. Survival time averages one year, with chemo and radiation. Advanced cancer. She used to believe in magic. She recalls before and after incidents in the apartment above the garage that had seemed supernatural. Parents Murph and Nancy felt helpless. If Nancy reverted to childhood in her grief, Murphy fell back into the angry rebellion of adolescence. He wanted someone to suffer for the unfairness of Bibi’s cancer. Who could be held responsible? Next a coma. A strange encounter. Her mission in life. She had needed to break the hold of the memory trick, discover again the extraordinary power of her imagination, and use it to restore herself to health. The one medicine that had always helped her pain and healed her sorrow had been stories--reading them and writing them. She knew no other effective therapy. She needed a miracle. She receives one. Her parents are mystified and electrified by the discovery. She will live to save Ashley Bell! She is impelled to find the imprisoned girl, pressed forward by an urgent inner prompting, not by mere desire, but by need as though she had been born- and had lived twenty-two years for one purpose. To spare Ashley Bell from whatever outrage her captors intended to perpetrate upon her. Who is Ashley Bell? A fictional character based on fact? “Stories were good. They made life better, happier. But stories should remain between the covers of a book." WOW! What a complex, multi-layered journey. An adventure. Mysterious. Intriguing. Imaginative. Mystical. Intense. Mesmerizing. Psychological. Riveting. Masterful. Exceptional. Readers will love Bibi Blair. Koontz knows how to dazzle and leave you captivated, with his words. Fans will not be disappointed!
“Home is where you struggle, in a world of endless struggle, to become the best you can be, and it becomes home in your heart only if one day you can look back and say that, in spite of all your faults and failures, it was in this special place where you began to see, however dimly, the shape of your soul.”
Loved Koontz's POST-NOVEL CONFUSION: ASHLEY BELL. On a personal note: Any person who loves and adores Golden Retrievers--a friend for life (for my Golden "Duke" of Farmington) 15 glorious and eventful years. There will never be another, as special as Duke.
Highly recommend the two novellas and prequel to Ashley Bell.
Last Light and The Final Hour.
About the Author
When he was a senior in college, Dean Koontz won an Atlantic Monthly fiction competition and has been writing ever since. His books are published in 38 languages and he has sold over 450 million copies to date.
Fourteen of his novels have risen to number one on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list (One Door Away From Heaven, From the Corner of His Eye, Midnight, Cold Fire, The Bad Place, Hideaway, Dragon Tears, Intensity, Sole Survivor, The Husband, Odd Hours, Relentless, What the Night Knows, and 77 Shadow Street), making him one of only a dozen writers ever to have achieved that milestone. Sixteen of his books have risen to the number one position in paperback. His books have also been major bestsellers in countries as diverse as Japan and Sweden.
The New York Times has called his writing “psychologically complex, masterly and satisfying.” The New Orleans Times-Picayune said Koontz is, “at times lyrical without ever being naive or romantic. [He creates] a grotesque world, much like that of Flannery O’Conner or Walker Percy … scary, worthwhile reading.” Rolling Stone has hailed him as “America’s most popular suspense novelist.”
Dean Koontz was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Shippensburg State College (now Shippensburg University), and his first job after graduation was with the Appalachian Poverty Program, where he was expected to counsel and tutor underprivileged children on a one-to-one basis. His first day on the job, he discovered that the previous occupier of his position had been beaten up by the very kids he had been trying to help and had landed in the hospital for several weeks.
The following year was filled with challenge but also tension, and Koontz was more highly motivated than ever to build a career as a writer. He wrote nights and weekends, which he continued to do after leaving the poverty program and going to work as an English teacher in a suburban school district outside Harrisburg. After a year and a half in that position, his wife, Gerda, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: “I’ll support you for five years,” she said, “and if you can’t make it as a writer in that time, you’ll never make it.” By the end of those five years, Gerda had quit her job to run the business end of her husband’s writing career.
Dean Koontz lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Anna, and the enduring spirit of their golden, Trixie. Website