I read [Face] yesterday afternoon. It’s very obviously an adult’s book; the death, and the killing, are more gruesome than I’d let even a teenager near. It shows the odd fascinations of Bellairs’ mind: the description of the wizard Prospero’s house bares an eerie resemblance to the house at 100 High Street, as do many of the unusual contents (oh, to live in such a shifting and intriguing place, never less than bursting with new things rushing to the fore).
The plot is typical of Bellairs’ work. I find his endings seem to skip a step, just before the very end, and this one left out more than I would have liked. Prospero and Roger Bacon are fun, interesting characters. It’s a book well worth reading, if you like Bellairs, and if you can find it. One I’d like to own, I think, though I doubt I’ll find it.
The allusions were what struck me the most; he borrows imagery flagrantly, but basically cites his source. The story of the Witch of Endor is incredibly important, but while obvious in the imagery and references to the story, the story itself is woven deftly into the plot. I was thrilled to read this book.
I promptly read The House with a Clock In Its Walls, and was surprised by how adult it seemed. Some of the events of that book still freak me out! I remembered it as a pleasantly unnerving superstitious suspense novel, but it is a spooky, spooky book. It was neat to read it after the other, and get some sense of how it was adapted from an adult novel into a children’s book. I’m going to have to read some more of Bellairs yet because of the ILO showing up after having been forgotten; I think I’m going to quite enjoy that. And, after all, how can one dislike reading books illustrated by the delightfully creepy pen and ink drawings of Edward Gorey?