Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group


Spellbinder (Volume 1)

Helen Stringer

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Belladonna Johnson can see ghosts. It's a trait she's inherited from her mother's side of the family, like blue eyes or straight hair. And it's a trait she could do without, because what twelve-year-old wants to be caught talking to someone invisible?

It is convenient, though, after Belladonna's parents are killed in a car accident. They can live with her the same as always, watching the same old TV shows in their same old house. Nothing has changed . . . until everything changes.

One night, with no warning, they vanish into thin air—along with every other ghost in the world. It's what some people think ghosts are supposed to do, but Belladonna knows it's all wrong. They may not be living, but they're not supposed to be gone.

With the help of her classmate Steve, a master of sneaking and spying, Belladonna is left to uncover what's become of the spirits and to navigate a whole world her parents have kept well-hidden. If she can't find her way, she'll lose them again—this time for good.


"She's home!" Belladonna's father poked his head out of the sitting room. And that was the problem right there, really. Where most fathers would have poked their heads out of the sitting room door, Mr. Johnson poked his right through the middle...


Praise for Spellbinder

“Wry wit and derring-do add up to a great read.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Stringer debuts with an adventurous, darkly humorous ghost story. …Stringer's ability to build a strong sense of mystery, entwined with Western mythology, will pull readers through to the end. Those who like unusual ghost stories without the usual horror will enjoy this book.” —Publishers Weekly

“Stringer maintains the humor and logic of preteens who are awkwardly coming into their magical destinies, which makes for an amusing first novel.” —School Library Journal

“Readers will fear for and cheer for Belladonna Johnson, the hero of this brilliant has-it-all novel, as she tries to solve the mystery behind the disappearance of the world's ghosts. One of the year's best.” —Cookie magazine

“Stringer's charming ghost story defies classification. …A fast-paced plot and intricate world pull the reader along, but it's Bella's love for her parents and her need to keep them with her that linger.” —Booklist

“This charming debut novel blends classic British fantasy with figures usually reserved for horror stories to create a compelling fantasy adventure romp which will appeal to middle grades readers. …this book is sure to hook readers and leave them waiting for what must certainly be a sequel, if not a whole series.” —VOYA

“Stringer's narrative voice is engagingly witty… This debut novel establishes Stringer as a fresh and promising voice in middle-grade fantasy.” —Claudia Mills, Ph.D., Children's Literature

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Helen Stringer

HELEN STRINGER grew up in Liverpool, England, and currently lives in Northern California. Here in the U.S., she studied film, winning several student film awards, and was a Directing Fellow at the American Film Institute Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies. Spellbinder is her first novel.

Helen Stringer

Diana Brown

From the Publisher

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