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The Last Ghost: A Belladonna Johnson Adventure (Spellbinder #1)

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  930 ratings  ·  154 reviews
In Belladonna Johnson's world, talking to ghosts seems perfectly normal. She even lives with two - her recently deceased parents, who are still very much involved with their daughter's life. But then the ghosts start disappearing. Before her father slips away, he warns her that the doors are closing, but Belladonna doesn't understand what he means. She realises, though, th ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published by MacMillan Children's Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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I so wanted to like this book. When reading the overview I thought "this could definitely be the next Harry Potter/Twilight". The premise certainly seemed interesting enough, but sadly it just wasn't all that well written. The whole book read like a concept for a film, like the author knew they were writing a book for want of having it become a phenomenon. So much of what was going on could have been made much more interesting by fleshing out the story itself. It seemed that the whole story was ...more
This book was awful!
First off, Belladonna's parents are already dead, and she already has the seeing-ghosts power. What would have been better would be if they had JUST died, she had been sad, and then she developed the awesome power WHILE YOU WERE READING IT. The way it is, it's boring. The book was creepy, too. Here's some things I thought went into that category: vacuum-sized beetles, leaves that drank blood, and a black hound that she saw out her window. Also, there wasn't any interweaving o
Update -

Second time around, it read even better so I upped the star count. Helen, the author, came and talked with the my book club in the library. She was clever, informative and insightful and she brought Parma Violets! (Read the book to find the connection.) She also read an excerpt from her recently completed second book in the series.

Definitely worth the time re-reading and I look forward to what may be a series of 5, according to the author. This one will circulate in the library and will
The Last Ghost is the story of Belladonna Johnson - a girl who can see ghosts - and what happens when the ghosts start to disappear. Since two of the ghosts in question are her dead parents, she's rather keen to get them back.

It's a children's / young adult novel, and as such it has a breezy pace, lots of energy, and a fair bit of spirit. Lots of things to like about it, really: it never gets boring.

As an adult reader, the main thing that gets on one's nerves is the portrayal of adults in the s
Belladonna Johnson can see ghosts, but until recently, it’s been more trouble than useful, since it wouldn’t be good for Belladonna to be caught talking to someone invisible. But when her parents are killed in a car accident, she realizes how great her skill is. Even though no one else can see her parents, for Belladonna, it’s like nothing has changed. And for a while, everything is great—until one day, the stars blink out and her parents disappear without warning. Something is seriously wrong. ...more
Belladonna Johnson is a tad unusual. She can see (and communicate) with ghosts and family dinners at her house include her two recently deceased parents. That is, until the ghosts in town start disappearing as if they were being wrenched right out of the world. With her abilities to commune with the other side, Belladonna might be able to get to the bottom of the mystery if she can only figure out whom to trust.

Although there are interesting ideas the story here isn't really conveyed in a satisf
It's really not that glamorous to be a ghost. They are just the cowardly souls of those who chose not to go on. Better to be brave and face what's ahead than to live a half-life of fear and sorrow as an empty shell of what you once were. Unless you just have unfinished business, or a movie you want to see first, I suppose it's understandable.
With this book, I think I was mostly just bored. I felt like there was a lot of potential, but the story never really figured out the pacing. It was either too slow or so fast that I coukdnt connect to the action or characters. Also, I was way too conscious that the author was holding a lot of things back, and for far too long. As a reader, it got annoying and a bit tedious. That said, the idea was fantastic and the plot elements themselves were exciting. The book just didn't live up to the pote ...more
When I first started reading Spellbinder, I thought it was very interesting since the author seemed to be going for a sort of snarky, parody-ish style of writing. I mean, the girl’s name is Belladonna, her aunt’s last name is Nightshade, and their school is named Dullworth’s. I think it was also supposed to give a sort of gothic atmosphere to the whole book. I did get that feeling strongly, in the beginning.

I thought this was actually quite a unique supernatural story, worldbuilding-wise. It was
This book was awesome! I only picked it up because the name intrigued me...but I'm very glad I did. It seemed...odd at places but it was always fun to read. I really enjoyed it. I can't wait to read the next book.
EDIT: I have now read this book probably twenty times and have loved it more and more with each re-reading. It is one of my all-time favorite books now, and is quickly picking up popularity in the Underground Book Trade. C=
Fatiah Madina
Yang paling saya suka dari buku ini adalah Belladonna yang frustasi. Rasanya, saya merasakan sakitnya ketika semua manusia menutupi banyak hal darinya karna menganggap Belladonna kecil sementara para hantu bergantung padanya dan menuntut ia dalam segala hal. Itu kejam! Saya juga suka interaksi antara Steve dan Elsie, saya selalu suka orang yang bertengkar hohoho.

Sementara itu, saya rasa deskripsi setting tempat dibuku ini agak berlebihan, terlalu mendetail dan bikin saya males bacanya apalagi ng
Sarah Sullivan
There's nothing terrible about this book. But there's also nothing exceptional. Standard middle grade modern fantasy, with some bonus points for Britishness and the character of Elsie. But not much else.
Four stars because I absolutely loved the way the author described everything; sometimes, her writing reminded me of J.K. Rowling's. I love sophisticated writing in children's literature.

Belladonna Johnson sees ghosts. It's a gift that she wished she didn't have and sees it as more of a curse. The plus side is that she can still see her parents, who still live with her in their home. They go about their everyday lives--Dad watches TV, Mum cooks dinner, until one night, they suddenly disappear. I
Teguh Affandi
Sepertinya aku terlalu berekspektasi tinggi terhadap buku ini. Lelah yang kurasakan ini lebih karena alurnya yang lambat. Lalu aku kembali bertanya, apa alur lambat ini disebabkan karena novel ini terjemahan, hingga aura yang seharusnya ada gagal dibawa oleh penerjemah.

Belladona mampu melihat hantu. Ayah ibunya yang sudah mati, tetap bisa memasakkan Belladona. Tetapi tiba-tiba hantu-hantu yang biasa Belladona lihat menghilang secara misterius.

Di sinilah petualangannya dimulai. Mereka mencari pi
Astrid Lim
This book is a mess. The premise is quite good actually, a girl named Belladonna can see ghosts and talk to them. But one day, all ghosts are gone. She investigates about the missing ghosts and crossing over to the Other Side, the land of the dead.

Sadly, the execution of the story is really poor. Repetitions, too much unnecessary descriptions, and unmemorable characters, made this book very bland and unimpressive. I don't like the translation version either, it feels very amateurish for a big pu
Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books)

Spellbinder is complex, interesting, and way beyond the average middle grade read. Helen Stringer incorporates a great deal of mythology to make her story work, but it’s never overwhelming or confusing. She flawlessly mixes mythology into Belladonna’s journey to save her parents and return the ghosts to the world, while giving the reader a great deal to ponder, in regards to life, death, and everything that comes after.

Belladonna is everything a normal 12 year old girl should be, aside from t
La Coccinelle
I honestly didn't think that any book could be worse than The Explosionist... but I was so very, very wrong. I must have a knack for picking utter crap.

Spellbinder is about a girl named Belladonna Johnson. Her parents died in a car accident, but it's not so bad because Belladonna has a talent: she can see ghosts. So her family life is pretty much as it was before... except that now her parents can do things like poke their heads through the living room wall. But then one day all the ghosts in th
This book starts out slow, really slow. According to the press information, Spellbinder was written for the 9-12 age group. I believe a large number from that demographic will become bored and put down the book before the story picks up. That is a shame, because the story is actually quite good once it starts rolling along.

While the subject matter is certainly nothing new, the author does provide a unique spin. The idea of there being a world for the living and a world for the dead is intriguing
This book started out all right but got weaker as it went on. I liked the premise, but the action never really got exciting and I didn't feel like the characters meshed as well as they were supposed to.

From School Library Journal
Grade 5–7—Belladonna Johnson, 12, who has the family trait of seeing ghosts, appreciates the gift after her parents' car accident. They happily haunt the house, her mother still prepares meals, Belladonna still spends evenings watching Staunchly Springs with them, and he
Kelly Hager
I really loved this book, and I'm guessing (hoping) that it'll be the first in a series. (They definitely set it up for a sequel.)

According to the press release, it's sort of like Violet from The Incredibles living in a Beetlejuice world. I haven't seen The Incredibles in ages, but it's definitely like Beetlejuice--very dark and very funny.

Belladonna sees ghosts, but it's not like in The Sixth Sense. And it's actually a really good thing, because her parents died in a car accident, but she can s
Belladonna Johnson can see ghosts. This ability comes in handy after her parents die in a car accident; Belladonna is able to live with them at home as if nothing ever happened. However, when all the ghosts in the world disappear, Belladonna and her friend Steve must journey into the Land of the Dead to find out why, or she may risk losing her parents forever.

Spellbinder by Helen Stringer is a children's fantasy novel very reminiscent of the Harry Potter series, in a good way. As in JK Rowling's
This was a cute book that I read in a few hours, as I didn't want to set it down. Belladonna makes a good heroine, and I enjoyed her growing friendship with Steve and how they learned to work together. They were joined in their adventure by Elsie, one of the few remaining ghosts left.

One minor thing that annoyed me is how almost every child in YA fiction would rather jump into the deep end rather than ask adults for help. Granted, Belladonna's grandmother and aunt kept blowing her off when she t
Benedict Jones

There was a somewhat interesting story hiding in Spellbinder by Helen Stringer, but it was overshadowed by the author's inability to dole out information properly (the main method seemed to be that instead of saying something useful/expositiony, the people talking would get incredibly irritated, I am pretty sure the word 'irritated' appears in this book around five hundred times, and refuse to speak more) and near the end it all got a little frayed. There was a set up for a sequel but I couldn't
3.5 stars

This review is also posted at Pages Unbound Book Reviews.

Spellbinder is a fun and slightly quirky novel that brings readers on a romp through the world of the dead in order to save the land of the living. Some of the elements and the characters are standard fantasy fare, but the writing is solid and the overall premise imaginative. It is not a surprising read, but it is an enjoyable one perfect for anyone who likes middle grade fantasy adventures.

The two protagonists are a loner girl (B
This is a cute story involving a girl, her friend, and a bunch of ghosts including her parents who had died in a car accident the previous year. The ghosts start disappearing and she's finds out the doors to other dimensions are closing and it's up to her and a few zany characters to stop it. See in her world ghosts give you your dreams at night and without the ghosts you don't dream and if you don't dream you eventually die. So her job is to figure out how to get the ghosts back and set the wor ...more
I found this to be a very unusual fantasy story, a ghost story that was not in any way horror...the scary bits were from something else entirely.
I have already recommended this book to a couple of kids who are voracious readers of fantasy, and they were hooked just from the cover and the description.
A girl with the delightful name of Belladonna [her family seems to have a tradition of names like that] can see ghosts, and lives at home with the ghosts of her deceased parents. Her grandmother can
When I first read the description of this, I thought 'So...Lydia got her wish?' (Lydia, from Beetlejuice, I sincerely hope you knew that), which was ridiculous of course. Spellbinder is an adventure as well as a magical story with a character who I thought was charming, but it didn't creep me out thankfully. Actually this is more like The Ghost Whisperer (which I love to death-haha).

Belladonna knows something is off lately, the stars are blinking out, there's less ghosts around and the ghosts wh
The book 'Spellbinder' is an interesting book. I personally liked it, but some people might think it was too typical for a fantasy story.
The story is about a young teenaged girl named Belladonna. Her parents died in a car accident, but it's as if they aren't really dead. She can still see them, or at least their ghosts. But her ghost parents can't leave the house. So they couldn't take her to the store or school. She buys the food, she goes to school on her own, but her parents talk to her, make
Sara Thompson
Spellbinder was an amazing book. Helen Stringer did a great job of creating a story that is frightening, funny and wonderful. It's a touching story of a young girl who can see ghosts. She feels like an outcast and works to separate herself from her classmates. Her ability works in her favor when her parents are killed. They pretend they are a normal family until all the ghosts disappear. Belladonna wants to save her parents but no one will tell her what is happening. She and her friend Steve opt ...more
Amanda Kimball
I really enjoyed this book. There were so many new spins on fantasy and the ghost story genre, that this was a truly unique read. I felt it incorporated many adult themes at just the right level. It was thought-provoking and incredible the way the author handled the purpose of ghosts. I'm sure everyone has dreamed of a deceased loved one at one time or another, and Stringer's rationale for this was nothing short of comforting and fantastical.

This was a ghost story that will not give you nightma
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Helen Stringer is the author of the middle grade fantasy novels Spellbinder (UK title: The Last Ghost) and The Midnight Gate, as well as the novelette The Blood Binding. Her most recent novel, Paradigm, is a fast moving scifi adventure set in the not too distant future. Helen was born in Liverpool, England, and now lives in a barn in Northern California, where she reads, writes, and looks after an ...more
More about Helen Stringer...

Other Books in the Series

Spellbinder (3 books)
  • The Midnight Gate (Spellbinder #2)
  • The Blood Binding (Spellbinder #3)
The Midnight Gate (Spellbinder #2) Paradigm The Blood Binding (Spellbinder #3) The Lost Lands: A Belladonna Johnson Adventure (Spellbinder Book 3) No Better Thing Under The Sun: Making The First Thanksgiving

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“Graveyards were the one place Belladonna never saw ghosts.” 6 likes
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