Ashley Bell: A Novel by Dean Koontz


Reviewed by Allen Hott

Ashley BellThere is little doubt that Mr. Koontz can get into the head of the reader and he has done it again. This is quite a story but the reader must believe in many things and especially people being able to see into their future and also imagine themselves in that future.

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Bibi Blair is the heroine in this case and she does things that most of us wish we could do. Or maybe not? Because she seems to get into all sorts of trouble when she does her voyaging.

It starts sort of slowly as she is a ten year old living with her surfer parents off of Newport Beach in California. One day she finds and makes a home for a stray dog (whom she names Olaf). When she is bathing the dog in the garage below the apartment where her grandfather lived before passing away, Bibi hears strange noises coming from upstairs but she doesn’t check immediately.

The story then moves to when Bibi is twenty-two and has become quite an author. She has written many books and mostly they deal with the occult or science fiction type items.

Her mother is in the beauty salon discussing one of Bibi’s books with the stylist when Bibi calls and says something is wrong with her! Off they go to the hospital where early tests seem to point to some type of stroke. Bibi is admitted and seems to all of a sudden go into a worsening condition. The next day they do all sorts of tests and finally not only do they decide she has a very aggressive type of cancer but the doctor tells her parents she has less than a year to live!

However the next day when the doctor tells Bibi the news she kind of scoffs it off and makes a comment like, “one year to live, huh, we will see to that never happening”.

The rest of the story is about Bibi’s adventures. Not only has she supposedly whipped the cancer but as she continues her life she gets very involved into all types of adventure while she is hunting for a person named Ashley Bell. A woman with a bunch of lettered balls was sort of telling her fortune (at her parents’ request) when among other things that name is spelled out. The message (as do others that later appear in tattoos and places) all allude to the fact that this Ashley Bell is going to be murdered.

Bibi being of strong character and also because she loves writing mysteries and paranormal type stories decides that she must find Ashley Bell and save her from her destiny.

The story begins to not only deepen into this hunt but it also moves back and forth in time as Bibi tries to figure things out. She believes she is getting spiritual help from her dead grandfather and that there are things that she knew as a child but she, under his guidance, hid these strange memories in a deep place in her mind that she is unable to get to and retrieve.

Eventually as the story precedes Bibi’s current boyfriend/husband-to-be and a longtime friend of hers get involved into trying to figure out what is going on. As all of these things happen Koontz takes the reader in and out of the hospital where Bibi is physically though not mentally.

The story grows more and more complex as the search for Ashley Bell continues as well as the search for Bibi’s mind which somehow accompanied by a body travels in search of not only Bell but who is out to kill her.

A very deep story that takes a lot of concentration by the reader to try to stay in the current story line. However this is the way Koontz writes and he does it well. Very long tedious writing but always with a hint of fear of what is or isn’t going to happen next. I have read several of his novels but this is no doubt the deepest! Great read for true Koontz/paranormal fans.