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The best of John Bellairs by John Bellairs

The best of John Bellairs (original 1998; edition 1998)

by John Bellairs

Series: Lewis Barnavelt (1-3)

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2216115,998 (4.02)8
A collection of three of John Bellairs' eerie tales.
Title:The best of John Bellairs
Authors:John Bellairs
Info:Barnes & Nobles Books (1998), Hardcover
Collections:Your library

Work Information

The Best of John Bellairs: The House with a Clock in Its Walls; The Figure in the Shadows; The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring by John Bellairs (1998)


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English (5)  Spanish (1)  All languages (6)
Showing 5 of 5
I was absolutely obsessed with everything by John Bellairs when I was in the 10-11 year old age range. Being that the movie “A House With a Clock in its Walls” is supposed to release soon, I thought I would go back and give this childhood favorite a re-read. Honestly this was a bit disappointing; this story and book just didn’t hold up very well over time fo rme. This is one of those childhood favorites I kind of wish I hadn’t gone back and re-read.

I was a bit disappointed on how much of the story focuses on Lewis and him struggling to keep his “friend” interested in him. There is lots of talk about baseball (which I had forgotten about) and a lot of discussion of history which was okay. In the end though the majority of this story is fairly...well...boring.

I did still enjoy the mystery behind the ticking in the old house Lewis moves in to. I was also impressed by the magic in this book and how dark and mysterious it is. I think if you took out all the weird catering of Lewis to a boy who obviously didn’t like him and all the strange baseball references; this could make a pretty good movie.

Overall this is one I wish I hadn't re-read. My childhood memories of it were much better than the actual book itself. I wouldn’t really recommend to modern middle grade aged readers. A lot of references and topics in here are fairly dated and the story wasn’t all that exciting. ( )
  krau0098 | Apr 11, 2018 |
I remember walking to the library so many times in my childhood and always being captivated by the Dell Yearling cover to The House With A Clock In Its Walls -- a ghastly superimposed face over a Gothic-looking mansion. I must have read that book over three dozen times. And yet, so many years later, I couldn't remember a thing about it, other than the spooky cover. And I wasn't sure if I had read any of the sequels. So I bought this omnibus, which contains three stories.

* The House With A Clock In Its Walls stars a young boy who feels very alone in a brand-new town, and where everything is mysterious, although his uncle rates pretty high on the peculiar scale. Along the way, there's a bit of witchcraft, and then the climax of the story hinges on the reader's knowledge of a pretty esoteric occult item. I must have been captivated by the world of things-I-didn't-ever-know-about, but I'm a bit startled that it made no long-term impression upon me.

* The Figure In The Shadows is another creepy tale, this time with a sidekick. Sadly, our main character has taken a turn for the worse: instead of being just a bumbling youth, he's now a whiny, crying brat. The adults seem to be mostly clueless during the story; I can't really tell if that's what kids always think their parents are, or if that is really how life works. The whiny character makes a lot of stupid decisions which almost leads to his downfall.

* The Letter, The Witch, and The Ring eliminates the whiny character (he goes to camp) and now the not-girlfriend takes a starring role. Interestingly, she hops in the car with an older adult (a non-relative) for several weeks of camping, because, well, that just moves the story along. Like in the second book, a lot of bad decisions are made -- let's break into this place because I have a hunch -- but being a children's book, all works out in the end.

What struck me most about these books is that the villains are truly evil, without any redeeming characteristics. The books still have charm, but there are some awkward spots -- I found the long listings of the flowers in the garden, or descriptions of the furniture in a room a bit distracting.

LT Haiku:

Sinister stories
that make the reader want to
sleep with the lights on. ( )
  legallypuzzled | Feb 16, 2015 |
Personally I prefer the character of Rose Rita over that of Lewis, so I'm not that crazy about the trilogy until Rose Rita appears in the second book (though she's referred to briefly at the end of The House with a Clock in Its Walls). And my own favorite in fact is the second book, The Figure in the Shadows, where Rose Rita is a bit stronger in her bossiness than in the third (though she does do some bossing in both books). And of the three illustrators, my own preference is for Mercer Mayer (The Figure in the Shadows), who gives Rose Rita a charmingly rumpled appearance that's missing from Richard Egielski's The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring.

Over all, an enjoyable enough trilogy which should appeal to younger readers, although it's not terribly original, for example, in the temptation to use a powerful ring. ( )
  CurrerBell | Jun 5, 2014 |
Only read the House with a Clock in its Walls -- Definitely a story for the really young adult crowd. I listened to it for Halloween because I've heard so much about it. Not that I have such sophisticated reading tastes, but this definitely was just an okay story. I think I would have enjoyed it as a kid though. ( )
  DanaJean | Oct 29, 2010 |
I loved these books as a kid. Better than Goosebumps. Still enjoyable as an adult. A bit dated, but not too bad. ( )
  readermom | Jan 24, 2009 |
Showing 5 of 5
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Bellairsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Egielski, RichardIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gorey, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mayer, MercerIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brierley, LouiseCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morris, GavinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sarfati, JamesCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Lewis Barnavelt fidgeted and wiped his sweaty palms on the seat of the bus that was roaring toward New Zebedee. (The house with a clock in its walls)
Lewis Barnavelt stood at the edge of the playground, watching the big boys fight. (The figure in the shadows)
"No, no, no, NO!" (The letter, the witch, and the ring)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Do not combine The Best of John Bellairs (0760711429 - Lewis Barnavelt - The House with a Clock in Its Walls; The Figure in the Shadows and The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring)withThe Best of John Bellairs 2 (0760775907 - Johnny Dixon - The Curse of the Blue Figurine; The Mummy, the Will, & the Crypt; The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull)
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A collection of three of John Bellairs' eerie tales.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
Sinister stories

that make the reader want to

sleep with the lights on.


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