I don’t know why, but Ashley Bell
is the first Dean Koontz book I have ever read although I had heard of this author. I am in my early 60s and I don’t know why it has taken me so long. I enjoyed it very much.
The book is about Bibi, a young writer, who has been diagnosed with an incurable brain cancer and is told she has one year to live. While in hospital her condition deteriorates but something changes during the night and the next morning she feels her cancer has gone. Following tests her doctor then confirms that inexplicably she is free of cancer.
When she gets home she encounters a slightly strange, enigmatic woman named Calida Butterfly, whose visit has been arranged by Bibi’s parents to welcome her home. Calida reveals that she is there to help her find out why she was spared from brain cancer. It would appear, after some divination, that Bibi has been spared to save the life of someone called Ashley Bell.
The book is then essentially about Bibi’s search for Ashley Bell and the ordeals she has to face while she searches.
Bibi, is someone I felt I would like to have beside me in a crisis. She seemed very sensible and level headed but determined. Despite some horrifying incidents, and coming across forces that seem determined to harm her, she is completely focused on trying to find out about Ashley Bell and to locate him or her to save them.
I liked the writing style and found the short chapter format easy to read. The locations shift from the present, to events in the past when Bibi was a child, and to somewhere overseas where her fiancé Paxton, a Navy Seal, is on active operations. It is easy however to recognise the shifts in time and place.
Initially I wasn’t sure where the book was going. Was this psychological thriller drawing us into the realms of the paranormal, supernatural or something else? I stuck with it though and I’m glad I did. (It was never really a chore to read it!)
I liked the characters – the good ones and the ‘bad’ ones. They were all relevant and held my interest to the end. The pace of the writing was maintained throughout and the ending didn’t disappoint.
US Publication: 8 December 2015 (Bantam)
UK Publication: 14 January 2016 (HarperCollins)
I received a review copy of this book from the US publishers Bantam via NetGalley.