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

There's A Feeling Of Actual Menace And Scenes That Are Beautifully Uncanny

Yesterday, I checked The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb by John Bellairs out of the library because I couldn't remember if I had read that one. (Anyway, I love Emerson Eels.) Mr Bellairs' books = still totally awesome. I'm a tiny bit evangelical about them at the library, because they're fantastic books (in both meanings of the word) and I have, as yet, only met one other person [in real life] who's ever read them. And she's the Bainbridge children's library, who has apparently read every book in our collection.

I love them because they're what I think of as "proper horror". There's no gore and very few things jumping out at you but there's plenty of stuff that's genuinely upsetting. The one I'm reading now, for example, has a walking corpse whose mouth is sealed shut with black cobwebs. That's such a wonderfully unsettling image, isn't it? And they're full of stuff like that. I mean, one knows that everything will eventually be all right and that there'll be that chapter at the end where everyone's happy and everything gets explained (with jokes and probably cookies) but in the mean time, there's a feeling of actual menace and scenes that are beautifully uncanny. Proper horror.

And there are random throwaway Lovecraft references! Emerson talking about "the lamp of Alhazred" - gosh, but that makes me happy. There all kinds of random occult stuff in these books - I learned what a Hand of Glory was from The House with a Clock in its Walls. Educational and entertaining. 8)

Also, the older editions have covers done by Edward Gorey. You could ask for more than that, I suppose, but you couldn't legitimately expect it.

Thus, if you like horror and kidlit at all, you should consider taking a look at John Bellairs. The House with a Clock in its Walls is probably my favorite but you can't go wrong with, say, The Mansion in the Mist. Or The Secret of the Underground Room. Or, if you like a bit more fantasy with your horror, The Face in the Frost. Or...I'll stop now. Go read.

darchildre /the Aviary

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