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John Bellairs

John Bellairs(1938-1991)
John Bellairs is most famous for his novel The Face on the Frost. All of these novels are mystery/horror/fantasies suitable for children. Later books (after 1990) were coauthored with Brad Strickland who continued the series after John Bellairs’ death. There are excerpts and plenty of other information at the John Bellairs / Brad Strickland website.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls: Lewis is an appealing hero

The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs

Lewis Barnavelt is a chubby middle schooler whose parents recently died in a car accident. He has just arrived in a new town at the house (mansion, actually) of an uncle he hardly knows. Uncle Jonathan is eccentric, as is his neighbor and best friend, Mrs. Zimmerman, a middle-aged widow who loves the color purple.

As Lewis begins to adjust to a new living situation, new school, and new neighborhood kids, he gradually becomes aware that there’s something weird about Uncle Jonathan and his house. It turns out that Uncle Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman aren’t just eccentric – they are magicians. Uncle Jonathan’s main skill is to create benign entertaining illusions. Mrs. Zimmerman might be more powerful, but it’s not yet clear what exactly these powers might be.

The mansion used to be inhabited by an evil magician. That guy’s now dead, but he left a clock tic... Read More

The Figure In The Shadows: Exciting, scary, and sweet

The Figure In The Shadows by John Bellairs

Lewis Barnavelt, 11 years old and recently orphaned, has been settling in at his uncle’s house. It's 1949, about a year since we saw him last (in The House With a Clock in Its Walls) and he has made a new friend – a tomboy named Rose Rita.

When Uncle Jonathan opens a trunk owned by his father (Lewis’s grandfather), Lewis, a lover of history, is bequeathed with his grandfather’s lucky coin. When he begins wearing the coin around his neck, weird things start happening to Lewis. He gets strange postcards in the middle of the night. He suddenly overcomes his cowardice and punches a bully. He fights with Rose Rita and becomes suspicious of her. He gets the feeling that someone is following him.

Lewis is coming undone but, thankfully, he has a few people w... Read More

The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring: Rose Rita in the spotlight

The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring by John Bellairs

The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring (1976) is the third novel in John BellairsLEWIS BARNAVELT series for kids. Each is a stand-alone horror mystery. It’s not necessary to read them in order but it’d be ideal, if you can, to start with the first book, The House with a Clock in Its Walls, because that’s the one in which we watch Lewis, recently orphaned, come to live in the house of his uncle, a jovial man who’s a bit of a magician. In the second book, The Figure in the Shadows, you’ll meet Rose Rita, a tomboy who’s Lewis’... Read More

The Ghost in the Mirror: Gothic creepiness for all ages

The Ghost in the Mirror by John Bellairs & Brad Strickland

I may not be the best person to review John Bellairs' The Ghost in the Mirror (1993), since it is clearly one book of many in a series, and I've only just arrived. When I picked up my copy from the library, I had no idea that it was part of a larger set, when in fact, Bellairs has written sixteen books that contain the characters found within this book.

I should say at this point that Bellairs' passed away in 1991, leaving behind several unfinished manuscripts. Brad Strickland has completed many of his stories, including this one. But I certainly couldn't see a drop in quality, or any obvious change in style. But then again, I'm a newcomer and this review can only judge the merits of this one particular book. It may therefore be inadequate in assessing its worth as ... Read More

The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder: Strickland respectfully continues this series

The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder by John Bellairs & Brad Strickland

Thanks to author Brad Strickland, who picked up John Bellairs’ children’s series after Bellairs’ death, the LEWIS BARNAVELT adventures continue with the fifth installment, The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder (1993). Surprisingly, I can detect no difference between the writing styles of the two authors. Strickland continues this series with the utmost respect for Bellairs’ vision and characters.

In The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder we learn what Lewis and his uncle Jonathan were doing while Lewis’s best friend Rose Rita and Mrs. Zimmerman were having their own adventure in Read More

The Doom of the Haunted Opera: The kids encounter a necromancer

The Doom of the Haunted Opera by John Bellairs & Brad Strickland

The Doom of the Haunted Opera (1995), the sixth book in John Bellairs’ and Brad Strickland’s LEWIS BARNAVELT series for middle grade readers, has best friends Lewis and Rose Rita back together again after having separate adventures in the previous two novels, The Ghost in the Mirror (Rose Rita) and The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder (Lewis).

The adults are away — Uncle Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman have gone to Florida to execute the will of a frien... Read More

The Specter from the Magician’s Museum: Might be the scariest story yet

The Specter from the Magician's Museum by John Bellairs & Brad Strickland

The Specter from the Magician's Museum (1998) is the seventh novel in the LEWIS BARNAVELT horror series for middle graders. The first novel, The House with a Clock in its Walls, was written by John Bellairs and published in 1973. There was a 17-year hiatus after the third book, The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring, was published in 1976 while Bellairs was focused on his JOHNNY DIXON series. Bellairs died in 1991, leaving both series to be finished by author Brad Strickland. I haven’t read the JO... Read More

The Beast Under the Wizard’s Bridge: Lewis learns about H.P. Lovecraft

The Beast Under the Wizard's Bridge by John Bellairs & Brad Strickland

The Beast Under the Wizard's Bridge (2000) is the eighth novel in the LEWIS BARNAVELT series for middle graders which was started by John Bellairs in 1973 and finished up by Brad Strickland after Bellairs’ death in 1991. I’m listening, with my daughter, to the excellent audio editions by Recorded Books which are narrated by George Guidall.

Remember that scary car chase scene, I think it was in the first book The House with a Clock in its Walls, where Lewis, Rose Rita, Uncle Jonathan, and Mrs. Zimmerman, were saved when they crossed a bridge tha... Read More

The Tower at the End of the World: A weak sequel

The Tower at the End of the World by John Bellairs & Brad Strickland

In The Tower at the End of the World (2001), the ninth novel in  John Bellairs & Brad Strickland’s LEWIS BARNAVELT series, Strickland once again pays tribute to the late Bellairs by returning to, and expanding the plot of the first novel in the series, The House with a Clock in its Walls.

At this point, Lewis is 13 years old and has just finished reading Sax Rohmer’s FU MANCHU series. (I ... Read More

The Face in the Frost: A short, charming, classic fantasy

The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs

Thanks to Tantor Media for giving us a wonderful audio edition of The Face in the Frost, John Bellairs’ short classic fantasy novel which was first published in 1969. It’s performed by Eric Michael Summerer and is 5 hours long.

Prospero is a small-time wizard who lives in a small kingdom. Lately he’s been noticing some odd occurrences around his house and starts to suspect that something sinister is going on.

When his studious and adventurous friend Roger Bacon (also a wizard) arrives for a visit, the two friends decide to investigate. They suspect that an evil wizard may be stalking them. To get off Prospero’s property without being seen by the evil wizard’s minions, they shrink themselves and escape down the stream on a toy boat.

Read More

More children’s fantasy novels by John Bellairs and Brad Strickland

Johnny Dixon — (1983-1994) Ages 9-12. Publisher: A mysterious stranger gives Johnny Dixon a magical ring that plunges him into a terrifying adventure during which he must outwit the ghost of the mad Father Baart.

John Bellairs Johnny Dixon novels for children 1. The Curse of the Blue Figurine 2. The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt 3. The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull 4. The Eyes of the Killer Robot 5. The Revenge of the Wizard's GhostJohn Bellairs Johnny Dixon novels for children 1. The Curse of the Blue Figurine 2. The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt 3. The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull 4. The Eyes of the Killer Robot 5. The Revenge of the Wizard's GhostJohn Bellairs Johnny Dixon novels for children 1. The Curse of the Blue Figurine 2. The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt 3. The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull 4. The Eyes of the Killer Robot 5. The Revenge of the Wizard's GhostJohn Bellairs Johnny Dixon novels for children 1. The Curse of the Blue Figurine 2. The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt 3. The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull 4. The Eyes of the Killer Robot 5. The Revenge of the Wizard's GhostJohn Bellairs Johnny Dixon novels for children 1. The Curse of the Blue Figurine 2. The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt 3. The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull 4. The Eyes of the Killer Robot 5. The Revenge of the Wizard's GhostJohn Bellairs Johnny Dixon mystery novels for children 6. The Trolley to Yesterday 7. The Secret of the Underground Room 8. The Chessmen of Doom 9. The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie John Bellairs Johnny Dixon mystery novels for children 6. The Trolley to Yesterday 7. The Secret of the Underground Room 8. The Chessmen of Doom 9. The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie John Bellairs Johnny Dixon mystery novels for children 6. The Trolley to Yesterday 7. The Secret of the Underground Room 8. The Chessmen of Doom 9. The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie John Bellairs Johnny Dixon mystery novels for children 6. The Trolley to Yesterday 7. The Secret of the Underground Room 8. The Chessmen of Doom 9. The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie Brad Strickland John Bellairs Johnny Dixon 9. The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie 10. The Hand of the Necromancer 11. The Bell, the Book, and the Spellbinder 12. The Wrath of the Grinning GhostBrad Strickland John Bellairs Johnny Dixon 9. The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie 10. The Hand of the Necromancer 11. The Bell, the Book, and the Spellbinder 12. The Wrath of the Grinning GhostBrad Strickland John Bellairs Johnny Dixon 9. The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie 10. The Hand of the Necromancer 11. The Bell, the Book, and the Spellbinder 12. The Wrath of the Grinning Ghost

This series was started by John Bellairs and finished by Brad Strickland.


More fantasy novels for children by John Bellairs

Anthony Monday — (1978-1992) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Fourteen-year-old Anthony Monday of Hoosac, Minnesota, and his friend Miss Eells, the Hoosac librarian, try to stop an evil wizard from turning the world into an icy wasteland.

John Bellairs novels review Anthony Monday 1. The Dark Secret of Weatherend 2. The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn 3. The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb 4. The Mansion in the MistJohn Bellairs novels review Anthony Monday 1. The Dark Secret of Weatherend 2. The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn 3. The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb 4. The Mansion in the MistJohn Bellairs novels review Anthony Monday 1. The Dark Secret of Weatherend 2. The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn 3. The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb 4. The Mansion in the MistJohn Bellairs novels review Anthony Monday 1. The Dark Secret of Weatherend 2. The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn 3. The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb 4. The Mansion in the Mist


book review John Bellairs The Pedant and the Shuffly The Pedant and the Shuffly — (1968) Ages 9-12. Publisher: The evil magician Snodrog ensnares his victims with his inescapable logic and transforms them into Flimsies (stained handkerchiefs)…until the kindly sorcerer, Sir Bertram Crabtree-Gore (Esq.) enlists the help of a magical Shuffly (Latin name: Scuffulans Hirsutus)… and Snodrog meets his match!voices in young adult fiction.