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Ashley Bell: A Novel Hardcover – December 8, 2015

3.8 out of 5 stars 1,365 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Expertly blending the mystical and the everyday, [Dean] Koontz creates alternate universes for his characters while playing hide-and-seek with the truth. . . . A mind-bender filled with satisfying surprises.”People (book of the week)
 
“Dean Koontz outdoes himself with his latest journey, which solidifies his reputation as one of the best storytellers in the book business. . . . [With] lyrical writing and compelling characters . . . Koontz stands alone, and this novel is a prime example of literary suspense. . . . [He] knows what he’s doing, and the baffling story with the stellar character of Bibi Blair makes this thriller one of his best.”—Associated Press
 
“Grabs you on page one and keeps you enthralled with ever widening loops of intrigue, spine-tingling plot twists, absorbing characters and emotional involvement . . . extraordinary.”Bookreporter

“A fascinating exploration of destiny that is heart-pounding and mind-boggling . . . Koontz is a masterful plotter, capable of juggling the many threads of this story without losing sight of the whole. . . . [He] knows how to captivate and surprise; readers will be handsomely rewarded by this well-paced thriller that blurs the line between what is real and what is imagined, between past and present, present and future. Ashley Bell is a rarity of a thriller—one that asks big questions about life and destiny while succeeding in creating such an eerie sense of reality that sleeping with the lights on might seem like a sane idea.”Shelf Awareness
 
“Strap in and hold on. . . . The most stunning, flat-out crazy reading experience yet from a writer who specializes in surprises. If you’ve ever wondered how much fun it would be to feel a book unfold in real time along with its characters, you need to read Ashley Bell right now. . . . Along the way, Koontz salts [the] journey with a sweeping assortment of characters, some of whom threaten to shoplift the narrative and take it home. . . . When a writer has managed to catch this kind of lightning in a bottle, every reader should experience the full jolt.”BookPage
 
“In every industry there exist ‘artists’ that are not only unforgettable, but know their craft better than the rest. Dean Koontz, yet again, proves that he is among these craftsmen. . . . There is so much to say about this treasure. The mystical plays a part, the reality of life on the edge plays a part and . . . nothing can be given away. What can be stated is that Koontz was born with that unbelievable gift to, in one paragraph, write a line that makes readers want to hide under their beds, followed by a joke that makes them laugh, and end with a line so beautiful they are stunned. If there was ever an author that deserved praise, it is, was, and remains, Dean Koontz. Do not miss this!”Suspense Magazine
 
“[The] opening is gorgeous and crushing, and will shake awake anyone who thinks Koontz is just grinding out genre tomes. . . . It’s gripping stuff, but Koontz doesn’t stop there, adding a series of flashbacks regarding the alchemy of creativity and the fuel of trauma, and that’s before the Say what? twist that upends everything. . . . Fans will adore it. Koontz hits the canny nexus of horror, mystery, and fantasy here.”Booklist
 
“Koontz crafts a story shifting between reality and imagination, highlighted by distinct descriptions. . . . Bibi’s a believable protagonist surrounded by interesting bit players. . . . Koontz’s setting, with California coastal fog a metaphor for illness and for knowledge beyond understanding, makes real the often surrealistic narrative. . . . [Ashley Bell] cuts between the fantastical and the believable to dissect evil, explore the power of imagination, and probe the parameters of consciousness.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“Throughout his long and outstanding career, Koontz has made a habit of melding and crossing genres to create his own brand of unforgettable fiction. Just when you think he can’t top himself, Koontz proves us wrong by creating his most mind-blowing and amazing book to date. Ashley Bell is an astonishing novel that sucks you in from the first page and delivers so many twists, you are bound to get whiplash.”RT Book Reviews
 
“Dean Koontz has become an essential part of my library and my creative life, influencing me at the keyboard, an invisible mentor. Ashley Bell might be his finest and most personal novel yet. It is everything you’d expect from Koontz—multilayered and richly told and fueled by page-turning suspense—but it is also as tender as it is terrifying, a story about love, mortality, and the redemptive power of imagination.”—Benjamin Percy, author of The Dead Lands, Red Moon, and The Wilding
 
“A mighty fan of Koontz’s story-making, I found his newest, Ashley Bell, to possess that rare hypnotic pull that I can’t get away from. It unfolds like a tricky Oriental fan, with layers and more layers of intrigue seeping through porous pages. But what makes my heart throb is not just the beauty of Koontz’s masterful prose, but the depth of his heart and the dizzying height of his wicked imagination, enchanted by his artless playfulness, easily making this novel about novel-making the best book of literary genre fiction on the landscape.”—Da Chen, New York Times bestselling author of Colors of the Mountain, Brothers, and My Last Empress
 
Ashley Bell is a lyrical, surprising, and sensitive novel, with the narrative propulsion that is Koontz’s signature. You won’t want to put it down except to contemplate its thought-provoking twists. Koontz manages to recruit a terrifically suspenseful story as part of a fascinating meditation on the hidden interactions of literature, health, and inner strength.”—Matthew Pearl, author of The Last Bookaneer
 
“Readers will fall hard for Bibi Blair, the fierce and dangerously smart heroine of Dean Koontz’s mind-bending thrill ride, Ashley Bell. Koontz delivers a sharp, unsettling, philosophically stimulating examination of consciousness, memory, and the intense power of story. He doesn’t just ask the big questions, he turns them inside out. A philosophically stimulating nightmare you won’t want to wake up from.”—Michelle Richmond, author of The Year of Fog and Golden State

About the Author

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

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; First Edition / First Printing edition (December 8, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345545966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345545961
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.7 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,365 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love Dean Koontz. I have every book of his (other than those long out of print). His writing never failed to be entertaining at the least and completely enthralling at best. I pre-ordered Ashley Bell as soon as it was available. I was looking forward to the release. I was disappointed beyond adequate description.

I see that most people have given Ashley Bell good reviews. And because a reader may still choose to read the book, I won't give away storyline. What I will say is that some suspension of disbelief is always necessary, more so in a book with some supernatural themes. However, for me, this book almost required suspension of thinking. The plot got ever more ridiculous, and the final reveal was even more of a letdown than I thought possible.

I am truly unhappy at posting such a negative review for one of my favorite authors, but with so many positive reviews for this book, I thought readers who were looking for guidance about purchasing should have both opinions presented. If you are looking for Dean Koonz, read any/all of the Odd Thomas books. Or The City. Or Innocence. Or the first Frankenstein book. Or Strangers....
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Format: Hardcover
My first encounter with Dean R. Koontz (as he was published then) was when I read Night Chills in 1984, the year I graduated from high school. Since then, I have read everything I could find by him, even collecting a few signed copies of his works. I am truly a fan, and when Random House (through Netgalley) offered me a free advanced copy in exchange for a review, I jumped at the chance!

Ashley Bell, his latest novel, is classic Koontz, building on the themes of evil and innocence that populate many of his novels, most recently the Odd Thomas series. I found Ashley Bell to be a profound study of what moves us as human beings to act in the best interests of others when doing so puts our own lives at risk. Bibi has learned a trick to forgetting bad experiences, and part of her (and our) journey is rediscovering some of the things she has chosen to forget. Events in her past become important to her future and to helping her in quest to find Ashley Bell.

The action moves at a lightning pace, as Bibi tries to rescue Ashley Bell (whom she has never met) from a terrifying fate at the hands of Birkenau Terezin (what a name!). Bibi's determination to follow this course of action despite the danger to her places her in the pantheon of many great Koontz characters, including the aforementioned Odd Thomas. Dean Koontz has the gift of creating memorable characters we really care for, but also villains beyond anything we encounter in other works. Bibi encounters each of these in her quest, and each has his or her part to play in Bibi's story and its outcome.

The pages seem to turn themselves. The chapters are unusually short for a Dean Koontz work, feeling more like those in a James Patterson novel.
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Format: Paperback
Ashley Bell is my twenty-second Dean Koontz novel, which made me jump at the opportunity to review the Advance Reader's Edition, and I’d easily place it in the top quartile of his work. I admire Dean’s inventiveness as a storyteller, unafraid to employ different narrative structures in his search for meaning and beauty in a world that's too often nihilistic and dark. This talent is on full display here, as he takes an irresistible hook (vivacious young author, Bibi Bell, is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer) and leads the reader down a path so disorienting and suspenseful that the line between reality and the imagination becomes impossible to distinguish.

Soon after her doctor tells Bibi she will succumb to cancer in no more than a year, and she responds with a defiant “we’ll see,” Bibi receives supernatural messages that send her on a quest to save the life of a beautiful teenage girl named Ashley Bell. Along the way, Bibi encounters various authority figures from her life, who inexplicably appear to belong to a Nazi-inspired cult that’s determined to stop Bibi from saving Ashley and hell-bent on taking over where Hitler left off. As her quest becomes increasingly perilous and fantastical, Bibi uncovers clues that help her begin to recover disturbing memories from her childhood, memories so dark and terrible that she had had to banish them from her memory to remain sane. As the reader learns that Bibi’s life and ability to save Ashley depend on her ability to recover those lost memories and use them to her advantage, the suspense mounts to an unbearable level. Indeed, I can’t recall another novel that has made me so eager to unlock its mystery before the big revelation.

Some will fault this novel for an ending that leaves too much unresolved. I, for one, am hoping this lack of closure portends a sequel, or perhaps another series in the vein of Odd Thomas.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I’m going to step away from my usual style of reviewing for this story. Mainly because there are so many twists and turns, reality, fantasy and pure imagination wrapped up in a Deen Koontz novel that it would be very easy to give away spoilers. So instead, let me give you my thoughts without a tease of the story of my own – we’ll let the Cover Description provide that part.

Ashley Bell is a big book, told in small chapters. Many readers won’t like that style as the different parts of the story are spoon fed to us in brief snatches of what is happening.

There are times when the reader will have to totally suspend belief, far more than the average needed for any suspense, mystery or thriller novel. This is Koontz’s style. The unbelievable wrapped up in everyday life.

Bibi is a compelling character on a mission. I enjoyed the characters in this story. They were well rounded and believable, even in the times when the reader must suspend belief in order to continue.

There will be readers who will love Ashley Bell. And those who won’t. I’m falling somewhere in the middle. I enjoyed the story, felt it went on a bit too long in some areas. But for the time I was reading it I was caught up in the story and really, that is all any story is supposed to do. Entertain us for a while.

As a bit of disclosure, I’ve read every single novel that Dean Koontz has put out there. And if I’m honest I am looking to be totally captivated and in love with a story like I was with Watchers, the first Koontz I encountered. I don’t know if that will ever happen again. But I have based my reactions to Dean Koontz’s work now based on how I felt about that first one I read.
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