Like Eva Ibbotson’s kids books, John Bellairs books harken back to a time when you could comfortably terrify kids and not get too worked up about it. In my review notes I said that JB is the “gothic Diana Wynne Jones,” and I stand by that. His books are atmospherically scary– maybe nothing PHYSICALLY scary happens, but they’re full of tension, gothic horror, and other fun stuff. (I think they’d make kick-ass movies, too!)
The Lewis Barnavelt series is my favorite of John Bellairs’ books, mostly because of the characters. Lewis, his uncle, and their friends are such kind people that they keep the book(s) from getting overly gloomy, which is great because I don’t like too much gloom in my gothic literature. JB can also pack a ton of character depth into a small amount of space– his sentences tend to be short and stark, too, but still very layered and interesting.
Anastasia / BirdBrain(ed)