This book was written in 1973 and was directed towards children. I remember reading it growing up and recently ordered it online to reread and see if it was as good as I remember it. I think it was as good. Although it's a "children's book" it's really sort of not. There are some adult themes lurking about that only become apparent upon re-reading with insight gained over time.
It's set in mid 20th century Michigan in the fictional town of New Zebedee. This town is very closely modeled after Bellairs' hometown of Marshall, Michigan. Marshall has one of the state's largest historic districts. Reading the thinly veiled descriptions in the book makes you want to go visit. I've only been through the town once but I would like to go back for a proper visit one day.
When Lewis foolishly dabbles in magic to try to impress one of the "cool kids", he inadvertently resurrects Selenna Izzard, who starts to finish the work that she and her husband started. His uncle and Mrs. Zimmerman must test their strength against Selenna's and try to stave off the end of the world. This book was illustrated by Edward Gorey and is almost worth reading for the art alone. Fun stuff. I love the descriptions of the stained glass windows, staircases and hidden rooms. This is great gothic writing and brings back fun memories.
Shady_Grady at Urban Politico