The House With a Clock in Its Walls is a safe introduction to fantasy for children who’ve yet to explore the genre; emphasis is placed on building a macabre atmosphere bolstered by magic rather than a new world filled with inventive if intimidating language and creatures of imagination. What children will encounter in this book is a real boy with real problems and insecurities, someone they can relate to, who happens to be able to see an illusionary scene straight out of the Battle of Waterloo.
A fantastic addition to the story is Edward Gorey’s illustrations; even without the aid of Bellairs’s words, Gorey’s illustrations would have conveyed the story. Suitably somber and dark, Gorey’s pictures also help children realize a little bit of the magic, showing them what is happening if they can’t make the leap and conjure it on their own.
Michelle Deschene / Reviews for LS 5613