Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Face in the Frost, by John Bellairs (author), Eric Michael Summerer (narrator)

Tantor Audio, March 2019 (original publication 1969)

Bellairs is best known for his children's books, with an added boost recently from The House With a Clock in Its Walls being  released as a movie.

This isn't a kids' book. Not that it contains any inappropriate content, and there are undoubtedly kids who would enjoy it.

This book, though, is aimed at adults who will enjoy the wordplay, the humor that rests on familiarity with things kids the age of Bellairs' usual readers haven't read yet, being aware of who the "other" Prospero is and recognizing the name of Roger Bacon, and...but no. Wait. Kids would enjoy the transition from the comic beginnings to the terrifying opponent.

The basic story isn't remarkable. Two good wizards discover evidence of an evil wizard at work with dark intentions, and set out to stop him. What is remarkable is graceful, elegant, and extremely funny use of language and familiar literary imagery to create a delightfully original and absorbing story for adult readers.

I have a deep and abiding love for this story, and its author, and, weirdly, for the discovery that the women's Catholic college he taught English at for a year, and was deeply unhappy at, was in fact my own alma mater--and that he was fondly remembered there as a good, likable, interesting guy--not by the English department, but by the history department. And specifically, the chair of the history department, who was my adviser.

It's the sort of whimsy that's entirely appropriate for John Bellairs. Who, yes, really was a good, likable, interesting guy.

This story is highly recommended and a lot of fun.

I bought this audiobook.

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