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Reviewing the Best of John Bellairs

The House with a Clock in its Walls
I’ve read this book years ago but couldn’t remember what it’s about, not even when I’ve finished with the book. Which probably tells you, the book is forgettable. Apparently, this was Bellairs’ first book for children, although it’s the not the first of his works that I read. That’s the one up for tomorrow. I guess we can forgive Bellairs for this one because I remember having thoroughly enjoyed The Figure in the Shadows, not knowing that it’s a sequel. But that’s a discussion meant for tomorrow.

In any case, the book is about magic, an orphan boy, his weird uncle and a witch who has a D.Mag.A, a sort-of doctorate degree for wizards and witches. I remember thinking, wow, Bellairs was there way ahead of J.K. Rowling!
 The Figure in the Shadows
I enjoyed reading it years ago; I still do; however, time has moved and it’s inevitable for me to enjoy it differently. I shall discuss the most important differences.

First, it’s always unique to be reading a book for the first time. My reading of this book suffers from the debilitation of expectations that are brought about by the fact that, well, this is my second reading of it.

Second, I have grown considerably older. Years older, perhaps fifteen years older. And like it or not, it makes for a huge difference. Fifteen years ago, I was the kid; these days, I take care of kids. I notice in this book the simplicity that children’s books need to have and know that I am not its intended reader. Don’t get me wrong; the fact that the book is uncomplicated is its strength, not its weakness. It’s just that it used to fly by me unnoticed and now, it’s all over the place.
The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring
This book, out of the three books in this trilogy (I found out that I was reading a trilogy after I finished with this book), is the one that has the most exciting adventure. By exciting, I mean that the protagonists seemed to be most in danger of getting beaten by the antagonists permanently. With the two previous books, their troubles felt like threats we make to little kids, not truly dangerous but just scary enough to get them to bed. In this book, we encounter the word “die” and we consider that one or all of the protagonists may not make it past the last page of the book. And why not? One of them, Rose-Rita, starts out as an eleven-year-old and in this book, she’s thirteen. Only two years have passed but when you consider that she’s entering puberty, you know those two years may as well be two decades. An adolescent deserves stronger challenges, after all, so that she doesn’t have to get focused on those zits that may come along the way.

Mylene / A Box for Books

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