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Ashley Bell

Ashley Bell - Dean Koontz BLUF: Good book for those who like to love their characters and for those who are able to remove their Dean Koontz expectations. (Good book, but not the Dean Koontz most of us adore.)

**I was provided a copy of this book from netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review**

My Background: I love Dean Koontz. He is all I read during high school and I kept reading him until Relentless, which I fully believe wasn’t written by the bestseller and turned me off enough that I have been fearful to read Dean Koontz since. (Then, after five years, I picked up By the Light of the Moon, which made me even more fearful to revisit the books I absolutely adore from him.) I’m trying to say that, while Koontz is my first love, or relationship has been distant for quite some time now. Yet, I couldn’t resist wanting to revisit our relationship.

Plot: Ashley Bell follows the story of Bibi Blair. Bibi (pronounced BeeBee) is a lover of life and an avid writer. Bibi suffers a stroke, which leads to a diagnosis of a very rare, very malicious strain of cancer. Two days and a visit from an unknown being later, and Bibi is inexplicably clear of cancer. As a gift, her parents present her a reading from a psychic, who soon shares that Bibi was spared in order to safe the life of another, Ashley Bell.

Review: Ashley Bell is a good book, but it doesn’t live up to the standards we hold for Dean Koontz. Although one could argue that there are too many run-on sentences, Ashley Bell is well written and keeps the reader entranced. The story itself is interesting, but it lacks the suspense, horror, and mystery that we love and have come to expect from Koontz.

Bibi should be a likeable character, but I wasn’t a big fan. That said, I can’t pinpoint what exactly bothered me. Honestly, it could even be the fact that every character was focused on her and her only. I realize this is stupid of me. Given that we are taken through this book on her thoughts, it’s not a surprise and is very realistic that everything is about her, and I understand that. Like I said, I can’t quite explain my feeling. I felt that she thought she was smarter than everyone else and that she expected information from other people without offering anything in return (even when they asked). My tweaks aren’t likely to be your tweaks though and, which it bothered me in certain portions of the book, it didn’t take away from my fondness of the story.

Like I mention above, the story doesn’t have the suspense, horror, or mystery that a reader would expect when picking up a book by Dean Koontz. This book isn’t a thriller and it won’t scare you. There are times were your heart is paused, hoping that the characters will soon know what we know, but overall, there is little suspense. There is mystery in Ashley Bell, but there is nothing for the reader to guess about – we can only continue through the story and be directed through the mystery.

For all these complaints against the “Dean Koontz Standard”, I found the story itself is intriguing. I dreaded the face that I only had an hour or two at a time to read this story – I wanted to finish it all in one sitting. I enjoyed the few twists in the book and, for the most part, I enjoyed the balance between realism and paranormal.

Overall, I think this is a compelling read and good for those who like to love their characters.