SPINNER: The Healer Chronicles Book One
Michael J. Bowler
Independently Published (2017)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views Kids (06/2022)
“Spinner,” is the first book in Michael J. Bowler’s sensational new series for young adults, The Healer Chronicles. On the surface, it’s a paranormal horror story that will leave readers of all ages peeking out from under the covers at every little bump in the night. It’s also a coming-of-age story of sorts, featuring an amazing group of kids navigating the special education world and learning to celebrate just what exactly makes them special. Coming of age horror? Sounds good to me!
Alex, the protagonist, is a fifteen-year-old special education student stuck in the foster system and bound to a wheelchair since birth because of an odd variation of spina bifida. He’s also a spinner. At least that’s what he and his friends call it. When Alex spins someone, he takes whatever they are experiencing and heals them, or draws it out of them, be it a mental state such as loneliness or a physical ailment, such as a disease or a wound. Though it seems like Alex’s ability to spin people would be a good thing, it’s had the opposite effect, making him a societal outcast and being labeled a freak. There are different factions interested in his gift—some claim he is the prophesied healer, others want to profit from his gift, and still others want to use him to destroy the world.
These characters captured me from the start. Their authenticity provoked a deep desire for them to succeed in their mission, not only so they could come to accept their greatness and belief in themselves. I absolutely love Alex as the story’s hero. His complexity makes him seem simultaneously too wise for his years and an innocent despite everything he’s going through. Bowler includes a variety of villains and heroes, all of which induce deep opinions in the reader. The paranormal characters add elements of genuine horror and are the stuff of nightmares. Indeed, even our hero is not exempt from these nightmares. The author is also unafraid of “killing his darlings” so don’t get too attached! Great job with character creation and development.
“Spinner” is an exceptionally well-written story. The plot moves at an intense pace with twists you won’t see coming, and surprising turns plunging readers deeper into the horror. A warning for sensitive readers: the story contains abuse, graphic gory details, violence directed toward young characters, and there is use of profanity throughout, making this read best for teens aged 16+.
Michael J. Bowler adds a refreshing spin to the young adult world, no pun intended, but hey…it works. He fills a void in YA lit with a unique, enchanting, and entertaining story. Make no mistake—this book is special. Bowler gives voice to a group of kids all but silenced by society, and elevates them to hero status—which, of course, they were all along. It’s a not-so-subtle reminder that everyone contributes uniquely to humankind. Though “Spinner” is classified as a young adult book, I highly recommend it to all ages and I look forward to reading book two in The Healer Chronicles, “Shifter.”