Week 24: The Face in the Frost
The Face in the Frost, by John Bellairs
I've always been a big fan of John Bellairs, who is mostly famous for writing spooky children's books. He just has a great style. The Face in the Frost was his first novel, and it was aimed more at adults, but really you could give it to a kid who already likes his books. It's not much scarier than the others, and it's only a little longer.
This is the story of Prospero ("and not the one you're thinking of either") and his friend Roger Bacon (yes, that one), wizards who realize that a mysterious evil force is attacking Prospero. Who is behind the attacks, and why is it all happening? The two friends go on a journey to find out and stop their enemy from throwing the whole country into war and destruction.
This is a great example of Bellairs' quirky, hodge-podgey style and it's fun to read, so any fan will enjoy it. Although it sounds like the usual sword-and-sorcery kind of thing, it isn't at all--but it is considered a classic of fantasy literature. This book isn't very easy to find any more, though. I was lucky to find my copy--which does not look like this cover--at Dark Carnival in Berkeley years ago.
If you have a kid who likes scary books, and you don't want him reading awful YA horror yet, John Bellairs would be an excellent choice (William Sleator too). My theory is that a kid who has already developed a taste for Bellairs' erudite silliness will be pretty immune to the lure of trashy horror. Bellairs wrote three character series: Lewis Barnavelt starts off with The House With A Clock in its Walls, Johnny Dixon begins with The Curse of the Blue Figurine, and Anthony Monday finds The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn.