ashley bell book coverReviewed by Neriza Billi

Back in 1999, after numerous attempts, I gave up reading any Dean Koontz book. I could never seem to follow and appreciate his style, especially the way he mixes mystery, fantasy and science fiction set in today’s time. Still, I decided to give Ashley Bell a try; me being more mature now and all. So glad I did; I never regretted a single minute of that decision.

Ashley Bell is not the protagonist in this book, Bibi Blair is. Bibi is a 22-year old author who was told that she would only have one year to live. But to everyone’s astonishment, Bibi woke up one morning completely cured. As a way to celebrate her recovery, her parents arranged for her to meet Calida, a masseuse-diviner. With Calida’s help, Bibi found out that she was cured because she needed to save another life – Ashley Bell’s. Fully intent on doing what she was asked, Bibi raced against time to find and save Ashley; while trying to outwit dangerous men hell-bent on stopping her.

This is a story with so many layers, and they are all seamlessly connected. Even if I know that the author mixes a lot of genres, I was still blown away by how he has managed to do it with this story-line. Couple of times, I had to put the book down, pause and shake my head in wonder. Everything and everyone centers on smart, courageous and willful Bibi; including myself as a reader. I never wanted to take my eyes off her in fear that she is not the character that I’ve believed her to be.

There is one part of the book that I cannot seem to understand though. I felt there was too much background information given about Bibi’s Navy-Seal boyfriend, Paxton. When the book started, he was away on a mission, without any contact with Bibi. I understand that it helped in showing their deep connection and Bibi’s resilience. However, these chapters with Paxton seemed like intermissions, disrupting the reader’s concentration on Bibi.

Nevertheless, the intermissions did not stop me from loving this book. So glad to add Bibi Blair to my list of heroines, albeit she is the only one from Kafka Land.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Neriza Billi works a regular 9-to-5 job in Stockholm where she resides with her husband. In addition to reading, she enjoys travelling and curling up with a glass of good wine.

Review copy was provided by Bantam Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.