"The House with a Clock in its Walls": News | Reviews | Discussion

Scary, Tense, Funny, And Quirky

I was glad to see that my memory of the Johnny Dixon books was correct...scary, tense, funny and quirky.

Anyway, I think I'm done with the Bellairs books (for a little while). I have to keep some in my pocket for sick days or rewards. But, some thoughts occurred to me while reading all these books... clearly some are better than others. But why is that? Same author, same 'world', same age target... why were some SO much better than others?

[The House with a Clock in its Walls] was the best of the bunch that I've read. From the first page...you've got quirk, interest, unusual use of language, lots of things to think about. Purple trousers and the sound they make. What is Wildroot Cream? What prayer was he whispering? We know he was an altar boy, that he was the kind of boy who slicked down his hair. A boy who wears corduroy trousers... he's a good boy. The book only gets better from there, with deeply drawn characters and real tension, suspense, and good strong scares.

Contrasted with the second book [The Figure in the Shadows]...immediately the language is simpler, the images not as complex, very straight-forward. Nice touch about The Iliad, but still. Suddenly I feel like I'm reading an outline, a shell of a book. The first book was the real thing. The other two books I read fell somewhere in the middle... [The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb] book being a little worse, [The Eyes of the Killer Robot] being a little better.

I would like to read them all chronologically to find out if my theory -- that Bellairs got socked with criticisms of "too scary" and "too adult" with his first book, so he swung the other way with the second, and then found a good middle ground from there on out -- is correct. But, I have other books to read (and studying to do) so I won't do that. But I do wonder, because the change is so marked. I could geek out on this for a long time, but don't you wonder about that with other authors? Like, why was that one book so good, but then the next one so bad?
Daphne / Somewhere I Have Never Traveled

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Among the most unique and unnerving tales John Bellairs had created "The Eyes of the Killer Robot" has took it's place as most memorable for me. In 6th grade, I took a peek in the library one dismal afternoon and found, hidden discreetly, a YA cover book with the title "The Eyes of the Killer Robot". I had read John Bellairs' books before, but after seeing the front cover I sighed in dismay. This was not going to be as exciting or bloodthirsty as it could be.
I turned the pages reluctantly and immediately found Professor Childermass "Razzing and Bench-Jockeying" New York Yankee Cliff Bullard.
Quickly, the pages bristled with excitement and rapidly turned themselves over. Johnny's encounter with the eyeless man, Mrs. Tremblay's mauling, Professor Childermass realizing who Dr. Pimlico was, and Professor Childermass's rotten temper all make Bellairsia trademarks for this book.
When everything is done and the last page was turned I give this book a 9 out of 10 for
a. Originality,
b. Suspense, and
c. Pure wit