I would like to be up front about something before I go forth with this book review: I am not a book reviewer. There are reasons for this. One reason is that when I am editing others’ work, I am often a bit harsh. On occasion, writers of those works at those moments didn’t care much for how I went about explaining things. I used to be soft of folks so it took a while for me to be brutally honest about someone’s work. I’ve found sometimes you have to be a little rough on folks to get their attention, to make them listen. While I do tend to be hard on folks, I rarely ever end an editing job without something positive to say. For me, I try to balance the negatives with the positives in order that the writer can see that, even if he/she is struggling with a particular issue, there is hope and giving up should not be an option.
With that in mind, I don’t review many books simply because, though I know I can give fair and impartial thoughts, sometimes the writer simply can’t handle my opinion or the way I give it. The key word there is opinion. The other reason is I am a notoriously slow reader. It’s not that I can’t read fast–I can when I have to–but I don’t like to breeze through stories and not get the full effect the writer intended.
However, I got my keyboard calloused fingers on a book about six or so weeks ago and, after reading the first couple of pages, I was engrossed in the story. Ten minutes and twenty-five pages later I stopped reading. Did you catch that? Twenty-five pages in ten minutes (or maybe fifteen, but definitely no more than that). That’s a lot for me in such a small span of time.
I set the book down just long enough for my wife to pick it up and begin reading it. In my household that is all of about three seconds. She read it in a couple of hours and told me, “You really need to finish this book.” Finishing the book was my intention before the lovely lady picked it up.
I turned back to the first page and started over. I read through half the book that night and finished it the next day. For a person who takes six months to finish a three hundred page book, that’s quite an accomplishment.
Five paragraphs in to this, one would think I would have already offered up the title of the book and the author or even a little bit about this novel, but I havenn’t. On purpose. Remember, I’m not a book reviewer. So, I need you, the reader, to understand that though I am a writer, I am a reader (just like you) and I like to be engrossed in what I am reading. Understand? Good.
Dead Spell, by Belinda Frisch, is my type of book. It’s quick paced, but not all action all the time. There are enough descriptions to get the feel of the scenery and the people in it without overdoing it. And it has something that not many stories have (at least for me): a few really good cringe-worthy scenes. If you can make me squirm just a little, then you’ve done your job, and Belinda Frisch did her job.
A brief synopsis without giving too much away: Teen-aged Harmony struggles with living in a world where her mom has issues of her own and a ghostly figure named Tom haunts her on a regular basis. Her best friend, Brea, also has problems, but not nearly to the extent as Harmony. Brea has to help Harmony figure out who Tom is before it’s too late–for both of them.
I can’t really say too much more without spoilers, so I’ll try and talk around it a little.
As the story unfolds we find out how tight the bond is between the two girls and how Brea’s mother wants nothing more than for her to stay away from Harmony. There is a bit of mystery behind her reasons, which in the end, make complete sense. We also get to see more of Tom, the apparition tormenting Harmony, as well as Brea’s boyfriend and mother, who are somewhat over protective and, in the mother’s case, overbearing.
Again, I am not one to give away all the information, but in the end, the story takes an unexpected turn that gave me a satisfying smile. And that’s pretty hard to do these days.
This book could have easily taken that turn into young adult horror, but it stayed in the more adult arena. That is my opinion. Others may disagree and I’m fine with that. It does have the feel of a young adult title, but it also has things in there that definitely fit the more adult crowd. There are drugs, a bit of sex (and who doesn’t like them a bit of sex?), some paranormal activity, some violence, both inflicted upon and self-inflicted by the characters. There are lies and deceit and… gasps… a little bit of romance as well, but not too much and not enough to make me gag, thankfully. There is heartache and a bit of redemption as well. There are no glittery vampires or hunky werewolves and that made me a happy reader.
The real key to this book is not only the story, but the ease at which it was written. There is no flowery language to wade through, no purple prose. The characters come to life and, believe me, when certain events happen, you feel it. There is no extra padding of descriptions in order to make the story longer. It comes in at a relatively modest 198 pages, which is right around the forty to fifty thousand word mark. Belinda Frisch’s writing in Dead Spell is simple and easy to read.
If you like heavy descriptions and a lot of fluff, then this book is not for you. However, if you like a quick paced, easy to read story, you’ve found your book of choice in Dead Spell.
Will everyone like this book? Probably not. Nothing is ever liked by everyone. Will the majority enjoy Dead Spell? I am going to say they would. What I find refreshing about this novel is that it was written with the reader in mind, not the editor, not the publisher. It’s a story that the reader can understand without having to go back and reread portions of it just to ‘make sure.’ You don’t get lost when the plot takes an unexpected turn. I like that.
Everyone has a rating system of stars and what have you. What can my rating system be? Let me see… Stars? No. Skulls? No. Bones? No. Hair follicles? Yeah, right. How about blood drops? Sure, that works. I give Dead Spell five out of five richly red blood drops. Go pick up a copy. I think you’ll like it.
You can purchase Dead Spell at Amazon
Also, check out Belinda Frisch’s home page at:
Belinda Frisch, Writer With A Dark Side