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Ashley Bell

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At twenty-two, Bibi Blair’s doctors tell her that she’s dying. Two days later, she’s impossibly cured. Fierce, funny, dauntless, she becomes obsessed with the idea that she was spared because she is meant to save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell. This proves to be a dangerous idea. Searching for Ashley Bell, ricocheting through a southern California landscape that proves strange and malevolent in the extreme, Bibi is plunged into a world of crime and conspiracy, following a trail of mysteries that become more sinister and tangled with every twisting turn.

Unprecedented in scope, infinite in heart, Ashley Bell is a magnificent achievement that will capture lovers of dark psychological suspense, literary thrillers, and modern classics of mystery and adventure. Beautifully written, at once lyrical and as fast as a bullet, here is the most irresistible novel of the decade.

560 pages, Hardcover

First published December 8, 2015

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About the author

Dean Koontz

902 books34.3k followers
Acknowledged as "America's most popular suspense novelist" (Rolling Stone) and as one of today's most celebrated and successful writers, Dean Ray Koontz has earned the devotion of millions of readers around the world and the praise of critics everywhere for tales of character, mystery, and adventure that strike to the core of what it means to be human.

Dean, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirit of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

Facebook: Facebook.com/DeanKoontzOfficial
Twitter: @DeanKoontz
Website: DeanKoontz.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,482 reviews
Profile Image for Julie .
4,027 reviews58.9k followers
November 13, 2015

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz is a 2015 Bantam publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I've read my fair share of novels by Dean Koontz over the years, some of which were absolutely brilliant, while others were just awful. While at one point, many years ago, I would have effusively recommended anything by this author, over the past couple of years, I've begun to approach his work with a bit more caution.

This book is almost a tome, with nearly six hundred pages, which peaked my interest a little, since I figured this book must be epic. Sadly, it's not.

The book starts off by dropping a big emotional bomb on the reader, by having Bibi, a young woman with a promising career as a writer, diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. But, quickly pulls us out of that emotional pit when Bibi makes a miraculous recovery. Needing answers to why she was spared, Bibi chooses to meet with a medium, and is told that her survival has a purpose… to save a girl named Ashley Bell.

This sets Bibi off on a quest that will merge her past in with the present and send her on an incredible journey, through a dark and murky maze of conspiracies, the occult, and multiple layers of mystery and suspense.

I have to say, first of all, when I have to write a review for a book like this one, written by a well established and much loved author, I struggle mightily. I don't know where to start, how to finish, or what to write in between. Part of me wants to dive in and go for a good hearty rip, but the other professional part knows I have to keep it in perspective. So, this is about the best I can do for this one.

This story was so slow moving I kept putting it down and reading other books, then sighing heavily when I forced myself to keep reading it. It was so dense, with so many threads and side stories, and flashbacks, and so on, I couldn't make much sense of it. By the time I got to the half way mark, I was seriously thinking of dropping it entirely. But, lo and behold, a plot twist takes place, not one that was all that surprising, but it kept me reading a little while longer wondering what would eventually happen in the end. But, after getting through another quarter of the book, I felt like I was running in place again, and lost all interest. I did finish the book, though, and when I finally got to the end, I was ticked off beyond words. I hated the ending which made struggling for nearly two weeks with this book feel like a complete waste of time.

Koontz once more took to his pulpit and kept going on long diatribes that had nothing much to do with the story, and I kept thinking, wow, this book really needs editing, not to mention the annoying two or three page chapters. Seriously, this book has 130 chapters!

It was not cohesive, it didn't flow well, the concept, while imaginative on one hand, was ridiculous on the other. It just didn't gel like it should have and left me scratching my head and with a feeling of dissatisfaction. Maybe it was over my head or something, I don't know, but whatever the case, it didn't work for me this time around.

I am not one of those people who will swear off reading an author entirely, even if they've released more tepid books than outstanding ones in recent years. I know this author can write, can tell amazing and imaginative stories, often evoking deep emotions, which makes this type of effort all the more puzzling and disconcerting. Still, by the time a new book is released by Dean Koontz, I will most likely be at the front of the line waiting to read it… just in case..

1.5 stars
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,966 followers
December 20, 2015
What a trip this was.

I've already been pretty much a lifelong fan of Koontz, but I haven't read all of his novels. Lately, I was into the Odd books, all of which I really enjoyed until the last one, so I had a bit of trepidation with picking up an opener for a new series.

I shouldn't have worried. It might have been just a case of getting bored with an old character. No biggie.

He got his mojo back with Bibi. She was delightful and full of literary life. I mean, come on. I LOVE reading stories about writers who write about writing. None of this was fourth-wall stuff, but the novel came awfully close. Good thing Koontz is a wonderful writer with prose that is like peanut butter.

Smooth peanut butter: rich with that ability to make my lower cheeks glow and put the tingles in my fingertips. Of course, he serves up this prose with a nutty bread and brain cancer, so it's not all happiness and light. The results are, though.

For most of the book, it was on par with most of his solid novels, a strong four stars, made with simple and fluid storytelling designed with keeping all the denominators low, always familiar, always comfortable. I don't think that's a bad thing. He reaches the greatest number of fans this way. What makes the novel great is the deep-seated insistence that Imagination is King. It's charming as fuck. I couldn't agree more.

I'll try not to give away any spoilers, but I will mention that if you, dear reader, are looking for a non-paranormal thriller, then just go away. Don't look back. This book isn't for you. If you like the premise that imagination can and will save your ass, then by all means, pick up this book and revel in it.

I did.

Here's a winner, folks!

Me-->Not a hater of successful writers if they can pull this kind of novel off without being sophomoric. Kudos!
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,222 reviews2,052 followers
May 11, 2023
The reviews for this book are all over the place, but I am on the side of the lovers not the haters. It was fun, it was engaging, occasionally it was really spooky, and it was a really good story. Full marks Mr Koontz for originality. You kept me guessing until just before you exposed the twist to the story. I jumped up and down saying "It's ....... ". (Sorry, you will have to read it to find out.) And you have to admit the cover is beautiful. If you are a fan of the earlier books then read this. It is good.
Profile Image for "Avonna.
1,150 reviews313 followers
January 3, 2016
Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz is not in my opinion “The must read thriller of the year”. I loved Intensity with its strong female lead and fast paced plot and was hoping for another thrilling read that I could recommend. This wasn’t it. Mr. Koontz’s writing is interesting and easy to read, but this book dragged and was not able to carry me through the unbelievable like he usually can, as in the Odd Thomas books. The ending was terrible and not worth the trouble it took to slog through this book. Mr. Koontz used to be a must read for me, but that is no longer true and I am very sorry to say that.

I received this uncorrected ebook for free in exchange for an honest review so I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine, Bantam and Net Galley for the consideration.
Profile Image for Alex is The Romance Fox.
1,461 reviews1,087 followers
December 31, 2015
I have been reading Dean Koontz’s books for years – and whilst there were some absolutely incredible ones…some of my favorites being Intensity, Watchers, Strangers, there have also been some really so not even good ones for me….like Odd Thomas, which I just could not get into. I must be honest and state that I have not read some of his latest novels.

But Ashley Bell’s synopsis was so interesting and intriguing that I decided to read it.

This book didn’t do it for me.

After the first couple of chapters, I began to lose interest. I kept skipping page after page hoping for something exciting to happen.

I struggled with the writing style…..tedious minutes and more minutes.

I really tried to finish this very long book…but I just could not get past page 390.

This is the one book by this author that I did not like.
Profile Image for Erin .
1,231 reviews1,141 followers
March 1, 2016
Ashley Bell is overly long and very boring. It also made no sense the plot was too confusing & unbelievable to even get invested in. I usually love Dean Koontz books but Dean gets a thumbs down this time.
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :).
991 reviews2,766 followers
November 27, 2015
I have never read a book by Dean Koontz and if this book is any indication of what his writing style is like I don’t think I’ll be reading another.

The premise for this book sounded extraordinary. I eagerly dove into the book. I already knew that the lead character, Bibi, is found to have brain cancer at a very early age. She is a writer who is just now enjoying the fruits of her labor, a well received novel. Celebrating with her parents at a restaurant she returns home happy and exhausted.

What awaits her is a “gift” from her parents. A masseuse who is also a psychic and even as Bebi is really uncertain and not interested in having a “reading” the masseuse talks her into it. It is then revealed to her, supposedly, why she was spared from cancer. She also finds that she and all those she loves are in grave danger. Some horrible things occur during the reading and this was a very intense time in the book, I loved it.

So everything at this point was still exciting, moving along quickly and held my interest. Mr. Koontz then spends a lot of time on Bibi’s childhood which I also found interesting even though I felt that the writing could have been more concise and less rambling. We learn some pretty strange facts about her parents and start to question all that Bibi thought she knew about her life.

When Bibi starts to research and try to find Ashley Bell, instead of the story continuing to be tense and exciting, it seemed to drag for me. I put the book aside for a while a came back to it feeling refreshed and ready to really get into it. I just couldn’t. I can’t believe that they are marketing this as “the thriller of the year”, I mean I honestly started dozing during parts of it. I would call this a mystery more than a thriller. A thriller is supposed to be spine tingling, edge of your seat, quick turning of the pages tense. Or at least that is the type of thriller that I like.

I made it half way through and then (shame faced here), I just went to the end of the novel to finish it. Oh my gosh, I think the ending is terrible. I’m glad that I didn’t force myself to read the entire book.

The actual writing and language in the book is very good, obviously Koontz is a very skilled writer. This is why I gave it 3 stars and also for the imaginative story line. Maybe he just needs a new editor? This book was incredibly long

Sadly I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone unless they are such fans that they want to read everything by Dean Koontz.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish.
1,166 reviews1,598 followers
December 7, 2015

Dean Koontz has been a favorite author of mine since reading Watchers in 1987, and then following Odd Thomas's adventures from his ‘birth’ in 2003. To say Mr. Koontz knows how to tell is story isn’t doing him justice because his stories are so much more than just words on a page, and Ashley Bell is further testament of that.

At twenty-two, Bibi Blair’s doctors tell her that she’s dying. Two days later, she’s impossibly cured. Fierce, funny, dauntless, she becomes obsessed with the idea that she was spared because she is meant to save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell. This proves to be a dangerous idea. Searching for Ashley Bell, ricocheting through a southern California landscape that proves strange and malevolent in the extreme, Bibi is plunged into a world of crime and conspiracy, following a trail of mysteries that become more sinister and tangled with every twisting turn.
As I’m sitting here writing this review I’m both shaking and grinning. I feel like I’ve just stepped off Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, literary edition. Ashley Bell is the Mystery/Thriller genre at its best. It’s an ‘edge of your seat, nail biting, heart-pounding, who dunnit’ that will have your mind reeling and, in the end, leave you breathless and desperate for more!

An ARC was provided by Random House Publishing Group via Netgalley. In appreciation I’m giving them an honest review.
Profile Image for Terri Robinette.
163 reviews16 followers
September 25, 2015
I love Dean Koontz, and I was very excited about this book. However, this book didnt really do anything for me. It was long and a little tedious. I found myself wishing for the end instead of being fraught with suspense and fear. Huge fan so I will continue to anticipate the next book but this one was, well, lackluster.
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,735 reviews938 followers
January 11, 2017
Oh man. This is going to be a doozy. I am still mad and I finished this up last night. I mean I woke up at one point last night and maybe screeched yelled at the final reveal to this book. I have loved older Koontz books, but his most recent stuff besides the Odd Thomas books hasn't really resonated with me. The only book I recall that I even "liked" was "The City" and even that got on my nerves at times.

I think this book highlights many of the ways that his recent works have not worked for me anymore. There's a dog in this one (a golden retriever...of course), there's an exceptional woman that appears to know everything about everything. She has a man that loves her and of course he is an expert at weaponry (he's a Navy SEAL) though usually in this latest works the woman is also great at weaponry. Koontz gets too lyrical at times instead of just telling the story. He took the unreliable narrator story and cranked it to 100. There is also not much horror in this one really. I miss old school Koontz who actually had horror novels like "Watchers," "Phantoms," and "The Bad Place." This was a not that great thriller/mystery with a let down of an ending.

There are multiple POVs in this one, so just prepare yourself. The main character we follow through most of Ashley Bell though is Bibi Blair. Bibi is an up and coming writer who lives in California. She is happy in her life, engaged to her fiancee Paxton who is off in Afghanistan on a black out mission (I hope you like reading about that by the way) she is waiting until he comes home and they can go off and start their life together. However, Bibi wakes up one day and feels awful. Her hands and legs go numb and she has a nasty taste in her mouth. Willing herself not to panic, she calls her mother who takes her to the hospital and there is eventually delivered life changing news. Apparently Bibi has a cancer so insidious that it will kill her within a year and there's no cure. Bib refuses to allow herself to believe in her doctor's words and says she will beat the cancer. And miraculously she does, however, her recovery leads her down a dark path to some people who have drawn her into a deadly game of trying to protect a young teenage girl named Ashley Bell.

Without getting too spoilery about things, Koontz draws things out way too long. Once part of the plot was revealed to me I was so irritated I didn't know what to do. Koontz also doesn't go back and explain some things that would have been better served after the fact I thought. We get facts about people in the story after the fact that Koontz doesn't set up initially. There was a lot of back and forth about how Paxton doesn't really deserve Bibi (because she is the best thing that has ever walked the Earth) but they all hope he can try to be good enough for her. That Bibi apparently could be a huge best selling author, but chooses not to be, cause reasons. I don't know. Don't look at me for explanation of this stuff.

Most of the characters were not very well thought out at all I thought. The book splits up the action between Bibi and her fiancee Paxton. I have never in my life cared so little about a character in my life. He was dull (hey I read romance books, at least talk about his hot body/abs or something) and reading about his missions, how much he cared about his friends, etc. got old real quick. I thought Koontz was channeling Lee Child for a bit there with a Reacher type character and just started skimming when he showed up in the story.

Bibi's parents were barely in this story which was just odd. I wanted more information about them. We start off with there POVs, and then they fade out of the story, only to appear again. Also they are both surfers so be happy reading as they talk "surfer" and people keep saying things like "she's walking the board."

There was so much hippie type speech/dialogue that I wanted to find a puppy and yell in it's face to tell it that it's not cute to get all of the frustration out of my system.

There's another character named Pogo (and no I refuse to get into him much) and he was dismissed earlier in the book, but the reveal about how close he was to Bibi and her family didn't work based on what came before.

We find out about another character named Captain and I said bah to the whole story-line (which drove the plot) from beginning to end. Nothing made sense at all. I had a hard time imagining a scenario where he would be able to do what he did.

The bad people (I am just going to collectively call them that) didn't really work at all. They were way too Scooby-Doo villain for me.

Some of the writing was just awful. A couple of times i just cringed at the try hard.

“Between two of the joists, backlit by a bare dust-coated bulb in a white ceramic socket, a fat spider danced from string to string, plucking from its silken harp a music beyond human hearing."

“The vintage dinette chairs featured chrome-plated steel legs and seats upholstered in black vinyl. Very 1950s. She liked the ’50s. The world hadn’t gone crazy yet."

“But there’s no room at all for free spirits in modern academia, with its speech codes and humorless moralizing. So she makes two lives for herself, or three for all we know, or four, and in the end there’s no satisfaction in being multiple Solange St. Croixs instead of one.”

Can we please stop with the 1950s being the best of times in America? I am so freaking over it. You can like the clothes, the writing, the American dream and all of that, and you still must acknowledge it was terrible for a good portion of us out there who were not white.

The flow was bad in this one. I think each chapter was about 5-6 pages long. And after a certain point, we follow Bibi on her adventures, and Paxton on his. It was too much to focus on while reading. And since things were being revealed more in Paxton's story, I found myself irritated going back to Bibi's and realizing that she was behind so to speak what was being revealed to readers and other characters in this story.

The ending was a hot joke. I seriously thought the bad guy and the thing that went bump in the night was just a bad joke come to life. I don't think I ever read a Koontz book that thunked the landing so hard since Saint Odd.

There are other books in this series, apparently two novellas. But I am going to pass on them and go about my day. I just don't want to revisit these characters anytime soon. I did read the reviews though, and the novellas were better received than this novel based on what I can tell. I have said for years that Koontz's short stories are pretty great, look at "Strange Highways" if you want to see some of them. I also loved the novella for "The City" it gave me hope old school Koontz was back.
Profile Image for Elaine.
360 reviews
February 26, 2016
I realised that I haven't read any Dean Koontz since my 20's and I'd forgotten how wickedly good he is. I never realised before either how similar he and Stephen King are. Both are incredible story tellers, taking you into worlds where nothing is ever what it seems. I really enjoyed my foray into Bibi's world and the twist and turns that kept me on my feet and guessing the whole time. It was so cleverly written with all the elements I remember from a really good Koontz novel. It was suspenseful, thrilling, a little creepy, terrifying in parts but mostly just an incredibly good story.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,601 reviews24.8k followers
January 10, 2016
This is the first Dean Koontz story that I have read. Ashley Bell is a beautifully written and beguiling novel. I found myself immediately immersed and captivated by the finely drawn characters. Bibi Blair is magically cured of brain cancer and comes to believe that there is a reason for this. Her mission is to save Ashley Bell’s life. She goes on the trail. There are numerous mysteries and twists on a dangerous odyssey which had me gripped and engaged. A fabulous novel which is superbly plotted with a suspenseful narrative. Its fantastical side is bewitching. I will read other books from this prolific and gifted author. Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of the book via the goodreads giveaways.
Profile Image for Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews.
1,914 reviews271 followers
June 1, 2017
Apologies in advance if you are a Dean Koontz fan...

I will make it known upfront that I have never read a Dean Koontz book before, mostly due to the fact that I don’t generally enjoy books from the genres he tends to focus his writing on. However, an opportunity to participate in a challenge with a dear reading friend of mine set me on the path of reading my first Dean Koontz novel - Ashley Bell.

I went into reading Ashley Bell with open mind, as well as with a sense of hope, as this author is very popular and has an expansive backlist. The opening did spark my interest. I was intrigued as to why Bibi, the main protagonist of Ashley Bell, is miraculously cured of her inoperable brain cancer. I also wanted to find out more about the significance of the mysterious ‘Ashley Bell’ who seemed to hold the key to understanding Bibi’s freak recovery.

Unfortunately, these factors did not surmount enough to hold my interest for the entire length of this over 500 page novel. In the end, it became too lengthy and confusing. I couldn’t make any sense of what was happening at all. This is a shame, a real shame. It was close a number of times to being a DNF, but I persisted for the challenge.

I’m not sure if I will pick up another Dean Koontz novel in the future as frankly this one was not great at all.

Profile Image for Josh.
1,636 reviews148 followers
February 14, 2018
Ashley Bell was a major let down for me; tedious, drawn out, too much introspective thought and over descriptive narrative. It's one of the few (ok, so far, only) occasions where I wish I had listened to the abridged version (is there an abridged version?). The audiobook clocked at well over 17hrs and would've benefited greatly from a fair amount of editing. The narrator, Suzy Jackson was good though.

There are fleeting glimpses of good writing which drew in my attention only to loose it again when, for example, describing each breath Bibi took whilst walking through a street shrouded in mist. There were hours (literally hours of listening time in the audiobook) in which all BiBi did was leave one location in the fictitious setting, only to arrive at another in which nothing essential to the story happened. This coupled with repetitive character descriptions and an innate focus on one characters surgically enhanced bosom, made it a difficult slog to get through.

Adding to my overall discontentment, is the fact that I guessed early on what was happening in the story, which is not the authors fault and I wouldn't have minded if Ashley Bell was a good book - but it wasn't.

My rating: 2/5. There is a decent story somewhere in Ashley Bell, unfortunately for me, it got lost in all the white noise of page filler. I like Dean Koontz books but not this one.
Profile Image for Betsy Hetzel.
114 reviews1 follower
December 14, 2015
How I looked forward to the release of this book. How I couldn't wait to read it. And how disappointed I was in what, IMO, is the worst Koontz book that I have read, and I've read or listened to at least 3/4 of his work, which I've always enjoyed.
We have a heroine, Bibi Blair, whose motivation I didn't even begin to understand until the closing chapters. We have a heroine who is dying of brain cancer and will die if she doesn't go in search and save Ashley Bell who turns out to be . We have a heroine who even as a small child would write hundreds of stories yet never understand what her imagination could do and how wonderfully powerful it was. We have a heroine who at 5 years old experiences a hideous, traumatic event involving a character in a favorite book, plus 2 other deeply disturbing incidents later on, and whose grandfather, whom she loves unconditionally, then gives her a technique, the memory trick, for erasing/ repressing these frightening memories which leads her to a lifetime (well, she's only 22) of not understanding what she is afraid of.
This COULD have been such a great story because that's what the whole thing was, a story, a dream, simply an encounter w/ herself, that while she's in a coma in two alternating states of consciousness, she is discovering these half-remembered occurrences in her past which have shaped events in the present, finally realizing that what happened then, these 3 forgotten childhood events, are the root of her current troubles in the present.
How neat it COULD have been, her search for self-discovery, knitting the past to the present, remembering the truth with an emphasis on her writing and her marvelous imagination WITHOUT ALL the meaningless "distractions" (as they were called in the book) which, to me, served no purpose: 1. a hospital security guard spouting quotations re. imagination that went nowhere 2. a college writing professor who forced Bibi to quit the prestigious writing program b/c Bibi's "imagined" assignment divulged a secret part of the professor's well-guarded life 3. a menacing man obsessed w/ Nazis and death camps and working for another final Solution of the Jews, for what reason ? 4. the story of Helina Berg, an Auschwitz survivor and author and 5. hearing that Ashley Bell, "the little Jewess's role is historic" but we find no role for her at all = just a heap and jumble of nothing that doesn't advance the plot nor help Bibi w/ her self-discovery.
I know that those much smarter than I will see things that I did not and will "get" how each of these secondary distractions help Bibi discover the truth; I did not. I found them confusing, irritating and with no significant purpose. The end felt trite and clichéd to me, and I was relieved to be done with it. I gave it 2 stars, a gift; I did not like it and a "thriller' it was not !
Profile Image for Judy Collins.
2,576 reviews361 followers
October 13, 2017
Top 50 Books of 2015

A huge Dean Koontz fan, he returns following The City, landing on my Top 30 Books of 2014, with ASHLEY BELL --once again, crossing several genres--from psychological suspense, mystery, adventure, fantasy, literary, and thriller; with a multi-layered story of engaging lyrical prose, only Koontz can tell.

The year Bibi Blair turned ten, twelve years before Death came calling—a writer of short stories, with detailed diary descriptions--she was a happy child, a stranger to melancholy.

She did not fully come to understand her thoughts until after her twenty-second birthday. Much time would pass before she recognized some truths she had hidden away in her magpie heart. People hide truths about themselves from themselves. A coping mechanism, even when they are children at a young age.

From Newport Beach, CA growing up in a picturesque neighborhood in a bungalow, her mind always stayed busy, spinning. She always carried a yellow lined tablet and a collection of pencils to compose, with her beloved golden, retriever. She writes stories about an abandoned dog named Jasper. Then one shows up. (she will call Olaf). She hides his collar. Olaf had died six years after her grandfather’s passing.

Flash forward twelve years later, with Bibi Blair now twenty-two. She begins to feel bewildered. Paralysis. A tingling in her hand, arm, elbow. She sensed she was in mortal peril. A stroke? She feels she is going to a dark place.

Every life was a story, after all---a collection of stories and not all of them tapered gracefully, to a happy ending. She had always assumed her life would be a tale of happiness. Would her assumption be naïve?

Brain cancer. Survival time averages one year, with chemo and radiation. Advanced cancer.

She used to believe in magic. She recalls before and after incidents in the apartment above the garage that had seemed supernatural.

Parents Murph and Nancy felt helpless. If Nancy reverted to childhood in her grief, Murphy fell back into the angry rebellion of adolescence. He wanted someone to suffer for the unfairness of Bibi’s cancer. Who could be held responsible? Next a coma. A strange encounter. Her mission in life.

She had needed to break the hold of the memory trick, discover again the extraordinary power of her imagination, and use it to restore herself to health. The one medicine that had always helped her pain and healed her sorrow had been stories--reading them and writing them. She knew no other effective therapy. She needed a miracle. She receives one. Her parents are mystified and electrified by the discovery.

She will live to save Ashley Bell!

She is impelled to find the imprisoned girl, pressed forward by an urgent inner prompting, not by mere desire, but by need as though she had been born- and had lived twenty-two years for one purpose. To spare Ashley Bell from whatever outrage her captors intended to perpetrate upon her.

Who is Ashley Bell? A fictional character based on fact?

“Stories were good. They made life better, happier. But stories should remain between the covers of a book."

WOW, what a complex, multi-layered journey. An adventure. Mysterious. Intriguing. Imaginative. Mystical. Intense. Mesmerizing. Psychological. Riveting. Masterful. Exceptional. Readers will love Bibi Blair.

Koontz knows how to dazzle and leave you captivated, with his words.

“Home is where you struggle, in a world of endless struggle, to become the best you can be, and it becomes home in your heart only if one day you can look back and say that, in spite of all your faults and failures, it was in this special place where you began to see, however dimly, the shape of your soul.”


Highly recommend the two novellas and prequel to Ashley Bell. Last Light and The Final Hour. Review to follow.

On a personal note: Any person who loves and adores Golden Retrievers--a friend for life (for my Golden "Duke" of Farmington) 15 glorious and eventful years. There will never be another, as special as Duke.

A special thank you to Random House, NetGalley, and LibraryThing Early Reviewers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Sarah.
731 reviews73 followers
March 22, 2016
Koontz may be my favorite author but it doesn't actually mean that I love all of his books. Lucky for me, this was one of the ones that I passionately loved :)

Bibi Blair is diagnosed with a form of brain cancer that leaves her with only a year to live. Shortly after her diagnosis, she's healed. I won't say exactly how, I'll just say that it is a Koontz book after all. After this happens, she ends up talking to a Scrabblemancer (yes, I'm perfectly serious) and finds out that the reason she was spared was to save the life of Ashley Bell. She wonders, who is Ashley Bell? She sets out to find her and ends up encountering a Neo-Nazi, a psychotic former professor, a psychotic high school teacher, two Hermiones, and many other fun and crazy people. But then you start to wonder... Why is it that everybody she runs into is tied to both her past and Ashley Bell? Has her whole life been leading her in the direction of saving this one special girl?

There are more than a few shocking moments in this and each one ramped up the suspense more and more. In short, it is everything I love about Koontz and it's Koontz at his finest. What a treat!
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,757 reviews754 followers
November 21, 2016
I was completely enthralled by this story right from page one. And I only became more enthralled as it went on. This story was truly mind blowing and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. There were so many twists and turns and I was completely thrown for a loop by each one. Then there's Bibi that you can't help but fall in love with her and root for her because she is such an amazing and complex character. I really can't say enough good things about this book, it kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish and I loved every second of it!
Profile Image for Lee.
615 reviews99 followers
December 8, 2016
Sorry I don't like giving bad reviews but unfortunately for me I found this quite hard to get through, although I did finish it. It just did not hold my attention, have loved many of his other books but not this one.
Profile Image for Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl.
1,078 reviews143 followers
February 11, 2023
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
- Henry David Thoreau

A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything) . . .

- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding

Quick now, here, now . . . At the still point . . .
Neither from nor towards . . . Where past and future are gathered . . .

- T.S. Eliot

8 Parts and 130 Chapters! In the beginning, I was not excited about this novel. I kept putting off starting the book for two reasons - Ashley Bell is lengthier than the average Dean Koontz novel, and I had been disappointed in one way or another with recent Dean Koontz releases including: The City, Innocence, Saint Odd, and Deeply Odd. While reading Part One, I was expecting to give this book another average 3 star rating, but as I entered Part Two, interesting things started happening.

I was impressed with the ideas of imagination, creativity, mystery and personal discovery which were explored so well in Ashley Bell. My mind kept thinking of a book I read one year previously and highly recommend: The Magicians. In the dreamscape surrealism of Ashley Bell, I entered a place of wonder that I had not experienced in Dean Koontz literature since By the Light of the Moon. Create your life & live it. The creative power of our own thoughts should not be taken lightly.
Read for the second time in January 2023.

Favorite Passages:

"The cop was a real smog monster, a mean-eyed kak who wouldn't know glassout conditions from mushburgers."

"Endeavor to live the life . . . "
Bibi had heard those words before, although in her current condition she could not quite remember when.

She realized then that madness and sanity were two worlds separated from each other by no more than a single step.

People hide truths about themselves from themselves. Such self-deception is a coping mechanism, and to one extent or another, most people begin deceiving themselves when they're children.

Every life was a story, after all, or a collection of stories, and not all of them tapered gracefully to a happy ending. She had always assumed her life would be a tale of happiness, that she would craft it as such.....

Bibi was wired. Not on chardonnay. Wired on the weirdness of it all. Cranked up by a feeling of impending violence. Like the air pressure before the first lightning flash of a storm so strong that it might spawn the mother of all tornadoes.

But dreams have no respect for the proper order of past, present, and future.

"Has your novel made enemies for you? Why are you packing heat?"

In times as turbulent as these, but also in the seeming humdrum of daily life, which always proved to be more meaningful and consequential in retrospect, each of us needed to rely on people of constant character and truths that were immutable.

Doors in her mind, long closed, began to ease open, and once-forbidden rooms of memory welcomed her.

Paranoia of a reasonable potency was an essential survival tool. But intense and universal paranoia of the everyone-I-know-is-an-evil-space-alien variety was the mantra of a loser. The landscape promoted disorientation.

Ordinary daily life, which so many people thought had no flash or filigree, was to Bibi at all times extraordinary; so much magic and wonder were at work in the world, so much mystery in its depths, that she didn't want - and couldn't cope with - any more than what it offered to anyone who was willing to see.

"She is exactly what she says she is. That's part of her beauty. No deception. No masks. But I know what you mean. She's at the same time a mystery."

She had desperately needed a dog, a dog suitably mysterious. To her, nature wasn't merely a beautiful engine that powered fate. She didn't believe in coincidence. Neither did Captain. Neither did dogs. In their constant joy and bottomless capacity for love, dogs were in tune with a more complex truth.

Home is where the heart is. No, nothing quite as simple as that. Home is where you struggle, in a world of endless struggle, to become the best you can be, and it becomes home in your heart only if one day you can look back and say that, in spite of all your faults and failures, it was in this special place where you began to see, however dimly, the shape of your soul.

Surrealism had been woven through the past two days, but now its thread count seemed to be increasing rapidly.

"You should have more faith in fiction. It lets you come sideways at the truth, which is the only way anyone ever gets near it."

Quotes by famous people, used in the story of Ashley Bell:

"This world is but canvas to our imaginations." - Henry David Thoreau

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours." - Henry David Thoreau

"To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything." - Anatole France

"Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. - Joseph Conrad

"As a rule, indeed, grown-up people are fairly correct on matters of fact; it is the higher gift of imagination that they are so sadly to seek." -Kenneth Grahame

"In the world of words, the imagination is one of the forces of nature." - Wallace Stevens

"And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown , the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name."
-William Shakespeare
Profile Image for Ginger .
663 reviews29 followers
July 18, 2016
Aaaaaw NetGalley!

You really love me?!

This is my second Koontz book (the first being The City). While I can not say I am a fan, I enjoyed my second trip a bit more than the first.
This took me a long time to get into, as you can see by my reading 'progress'.
I had highlights in the book but my kindle app appears to have 'eaten them' so here goes.....

How do you review a book like this without spoilers?
I am sure some of my super star friends here could do it but my only reviewing friend was turned off by the appearance of the golden retriever and had to put the book down.

Once the story started rolling I got the feeling that something about BiBi's experiences were a little.....off.

There was a little mystery but I was more thrown off by the odd behavior of everyone around Bibi. I was under the impression that Koontz wrote some very odd characters.
As the story progressed and more information was revealed it all started to fall into place.

I am a reader of Fantacy/paranormal/science fiction etc. but I felt like this was a little 'out there'. Something just did not click with me and this story. It had nothing to do with the 'believability' of the story just the way that it was told. I was set on a four star rating but in the end it dropped to a respectable three star experience. It is hard to put my finger on it but I think it was everyone's reaction, or in this case lack of reaction, to the events that unfolded. It all felt anti climactic.

I may give him another go but I feel like this is strike two for Koontz. Maybe I will take some other reader's advise and try out some of his earlier work.
Profile Image for Antigone.
500 reviews741 followers
July 17, 2020
Twenty-two year old Bibi Blair, a wild child of surfer parents and writer extraordinaire, is diagnosed with an incurable form of brain cancer. She greets this news much as she would the arrival of a plate of rancid clams, by shaking her head and directing the disease back to the kitchen. Which works. The cancer departs. Life begins again. Only certain alterations have been made.

While it does not seem so, this is a very complicated premise. Every step young Bibi will take from this point forward, every obstacle she meets, every change made to the fabric of her re-initialized existence, must click into place as smartly as the die-cut laminates of a jigsaw puzzle. Such is the cost of logic abandoned; it must be solidly and steadily acquired again. This calls for a great deal of organized thought, a keen sense of the symbolic, and a compass rivaling that of, say, Captain Jack Sparrow. None of which Dean Koontz bothered with.

What we've got here is a five hundred and sixty page fictional doodle. The scrap of an idea a profoundly prolific author found himself fiddling with. Which someone published. And charged me for.

And I hate it when that happens.
Profile Image for Tracy.
295 reviews2 followers
October 10, 2015
I loved Koontz when I was younger. I would read any book that he wrote - so, I was excited when, thanks to Netgalley, I was able to read this book prior to the release date in exchange for an honest review.
The excitement did not last. I just wanted the words to fly by so I could get to the good stuff. I kept wanting to skip - which, obviously is not a good sign. The story had an interesting premise and could have been great but it lacked the energy to keep my attention.
It honestly made me really sad because I use to love Koontz books so much. Just not this one.
Profile Image for Ken.
2,164 reviews1,322 followers
November 29, 2018
My first Koontz read, I probably jumped in at the deep end!

This novel has a strong premise as young Bibi Blair is told she is dying, but two days later she is cured.
She believes she’s meant to save someone, that person is Ashley Bell.

I really liked the story but found it overlong at times, there was plenty of sections that were very wordy.
I’ve heard that Koontz can be very hit or miss, so I’m willing to give him another try...
Profile Image for CL.
646 reviews29 followers
November 2, 2015
I have been reading Dean Koontz books since I discovered him in the early 70s. His stories have just enough truth in them to make it enjoyable. In this book the main character "Bibi Blair" is an author and she has just beaten incurable brain cancer. As a gift for this miracle her parents give her a reading from a physic masseuse that goes horribly wrong, so wrong that the physic tells her the "Wrong People" will now be after her and her life is in danger. During the reading she discovers that she has beat brain cancer because she is meant to save a young girl named Ashley Bell. As she tries to save Ashley Bell she discovers that her past ties into this mystery and she must now remember that past she has tried to forget thru the memory loss trick taught to her by her grandfather "Captain". As she draws closer and closer to the truth nothing is as it seems. In true Dean Koontz fashion this was a great read. I would like to thank the publisher and Net Galley for the chance to read this ARC.
Profile Image for Kim Kaso.
298 reviews60 followers
June 3, 2017
I have truly loved some of Dean Koontz's books, and have enjoyed many others. My top 3 would be Strangers, Watchers, and Lightning. I also liked Odd Thomas and some others. This book, while fast-moving and slick--a little too slick for me--feels like the de riguear book examining the creative process that many writers come to at some point. It almost always feels egocentric, writer as god/God, and I wish they could write them without necessarily publishing them. I found all of that discussion in the later King Dark Tower series annoying, and it is no less so here.

The characters needed to be deeper for me, these--even valiant Bibi--felt too paper-dollish, too slight to carry all those pages.

I wanted to like this book more than I did. For the moment it is a 3.5 rounded to 4, but if I keep thinking about it, it may lose that 1/2 star which is full of good will from past books. Recommended if you are a heavy duty Koontz fan who loves anything he writes and will not find fault.
Profile Image for Candace.
879 reviews
October 6, 2017
Bibi Blair is a writer who is just starting to enjoy the fruits of her labor. When she begins to feel the symptoms of a heart attack, she admits herself to the hospital. What they find is that she has brain cancer--gliomatosis cerebri. Bibi is given one year to live.

When Bibi is miraculously cured, she comes to believe she has been cured to save a life. Through scrabblemancy she discovers that life is Ashley Bell. Somehow Bibi's past is tied into her future. As a writer she has a vivid imagination. How is Bibi's life tied to Ashley Bell's survival? With all the obstacles Bibi encounters, will her imagination be a blessing or a curse?

This suspense novel is well written. The main character tells most of the story. The plot and subplots keep the suspense alive with twists and turns. At one point I actually gasps because I was so surprised. The element of paranormal produces paranoia, which spreads into the suspense. This is my first Dean Koontz novel. I must say I was thoroughly captivated.
Profile Image for Lisa.
751 reviews
June 18, 2016
I am sorry to say Mr Koontz this is NOT one of your best books could not get into the plot & it wasn't a thrilling read at all for me maybe its because i have read your earlier works which kept me transfixed to every page stick to your own style you can do better in my opinion
Profile Image for Monnie.
1,401 reviews762 followers
December 28, 2015
A mind is a terrible thing to waste, or so it's been said. And for sure, prolific writer Bibi Blair - grown daughter of perpetual Hippie parents Nancy and Mitch - is making the most of hers. Bibi's amazing story begins when she's diagnosed with a rare, incurable cancer - told by her doctors that she has no more than a year to live.

Not gonna happen, Bibi insists - and proceeds to make a remarkable full recovery unheard of in the medical community. But then, her life takes a different turn: From a soothsayer recommended by her surfer-dude father, Bibi learns that escaping death comes with a catch; she was spared only so she can save the life of someone named Ashley Bell.

From that point on, the story gets crazy - with chapters weaving in and out from the present to events of Bibi's somewhat offbeat childhood. Each chapter peels back clues as to what's going on, most of which fall into the realm of fantasy (well, maybe, but then again, maybe not). A big reveal somewhere around the 60% mark hits like a ton of bricks, and from then on, the story takes a turn toward the even more bizarre. The ending, which in many ways is unsatisfying, brings up a whole new dimension in and of itself that kept me wondering for several days after I finished the book.

The drawbacks? Maybe too many words; no matter how well crafted they are, some of the chapters seemed to drag on a bit. And if you don't like fantasy mixed in with reality - and perhaps not being able to discern which is which - this probably isn't the book for you.
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