Tuesday, February 24, 1998

Testimony: Bellairs vs. Stine: No Contest

by David Bass (Feb. 24, 1998)
(Originally published at the compleatbellairs.com)

It was about 1993 when I first started to read John Bellairs' books. My brother had a job at the local library so he did a lot of shelving of books, and that is how he came across this edition that was named The House With a Clock in Its Walls. He took it home and read it all the way through. He said later, "I thought it was the best book I had ever read!" Then the book came into my hands. I read it and (like my brother) thought it was great. The weird thing was that I was actually enjoying reading his books. Most of the time when I read books they were for school. But this one was truly interesting and fun to read. I went back to the library and got another: The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb. I loved the way Bellairs used everyday teens and kids that got wound up in these kinds of mysteries. After that I checked out more of them: The Mansion in the Mist and The Eyes of the Killer Robot. I really was enjoying them. My parents were glad to see that I was reading and (because of John) how I was using most of my time studying John's books. I really enjoy reading his books. Of course, I was sad to learn that John had passed away in 1991, but then I learned that Brad Strickland was taking over the books. At that time it was only about 1994 and Brad was only completing Bellairs' books, but I hoped that he would continue the Bellairs tradition and keep on writing them and he did.

I had read almost every John Bellairs book that he ever wrote (except for the adult ones) and I loved them all. Then I got tired of checking them out of the library because I wanted a collection that I could pass down through my family, so I took it upon myself to collect all the John Bellairs books. When I went to the bookstore I saw that almost all of the books were by (gag) R.L. Stine. But then my eye caught the scary and spooky drawings of Edward Gorey. I pulled the book down and looked at it. It was The Hand of the Necromancer. I had never heard of it before, but then I saw that it was by Brad Strickland. I was so happy that I bought the book then and there. I also saw that the bookstore carried The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie. I read The Hand of the Necromancer and I loved it almost as much as the true Bellairs books. It was great. Brad did a magnificent job with it. I went back to the book store and searched for all the John Bellairs books I could find. Unfortunately, they were almost all out of print (all the hardbacks, that is). But that didn't stop me. I ordered the ones I could. By this time I had The Hand of the Necromancer, The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie and The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder. I loved all of these books, but I really wanted to get my hands on the rare editions (I am happy to say that today I have almost every one of the fine John Bellairs books). Then it struck me to try searching for books on the Internet . . . I found them all.

By 1996 I was a true Bellairs fan. I loved his works and Brad Strickland's . . . R.L. Stine is no match for the brains and the writings of Bellairs. I am glad to say that I have never opened an R.L Stine book. The covers are enough for me. I truly like the Edward Gorey drawings on almost all the Dial hardbacks. Then my brother and I learned HTML and we went full force with a new idea . . . a John Bellairs web site. We sat down and started to work on a small, but interesting site called First Edition Bellairs. We scanned in all the book fronts and graphics. I am glad to say that the site has come along way. However, the real inspiration for the site was . . . guess what . . . The Compleat Bellairs which is also a GREAT Internet destination. As I learned more about John and his works the site came along. At this point in time the site looks great, but I owe it all to the real master, and I cannot wait until the next Bellairs book comes out. The Specter from the Magician's Museum sounds great. Even though I am only 12 years old, I would like to call myself a very loyal fan.

I also enjoy reading J.R.R Tolkien's books because he is a genius just like John and Brad. You know, with all this expertise I am thinking about majoring in literature and becoming a writer just like John. He was the real inspiration in my life. His books made me read. The Bellairs editions are now in an honored place on the bookshelf of my bedroom and I love reading them over and over. Well, I know all this is a lot of stuff to put into your head, but if there is one thing that I want to make clear it is that (like Jonathan Abucejo said) if you have not read one of the Bellairs books, try it sometime. I think if you're like me (and all the Bellairs fans) you'll love them . . . more then R.L. Stine, anyway.

So, that's my testimony. How'd I do, John? :-)

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