I was in Barnes & Noble today, just browsing, and I walked by one of those display tables they set out to ensnare those who are just browsing. The theme of this particular display table was something Halloweeny, and included was a book of John Bellairs stories (it's one volume out of a "best of" series). I loved his books when I was a kid, so I bought the collection (B&N trapped me; what could I do?). It contains three stories, all featuring Johnny Dixon: The Curse of the Blue Figurine; The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt; and The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull. I read the last one this afternoon and it was just as creepy as it was when I was eleven years old. I couldn't remember the details of the plot, so the ending was still a surprise.SaraLynn / MySpace blog
Sorcerer's Skull begins as Johnny Dixon and his friend Professor Childermass discover an old grandfather clock that used to belong to Childermass's family until it was stolen. Childermass's father built the clock and he included a miniature replica of the room where his father died under very mysterious circumstances. The only difference between the miniature and the real room is a tiny skull sitting on a shelf in the miniature. Johnny ends up taking the skull and, naturally, it's cursed (duh, duh, duh!). Spoooooky.
When I was in junior high, John Bellairs was one of my favorite scary-stories-for-kids authors, along with Lois Duncan. I found R. L. Stine incredibly boring and non-subtle after them... I don't know why he was so popular.