Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Time Capsule: The Face...at 40

We would do all Bellairsdom a great disservice if we did not acknowledge that this year is the fortieth anniversary of The Face in the Frost. It is still the first (and the only compleat) book to feature the wizards Prospero and Roger Bacon who live in a strange land known only as the Southern Kingdom. And what a book it is.  Bellairs actually composed a lot of the book in another kingdom – the United Kingdom...England – in his years after teaching at Shimer College. How far along in Prospero's tale Bellairs was before he arrived in England is uncertain but the ambiance there surely inspired him – note the similarities of local flavor found in the Gorgon's head in Bath and Somerset's Five Dials Inn to some of the encounters in Face.

And just in time for the big Four-Oh is the release of a sequel (okay, part of a sequel) called The Dolphin Cross.

That said, in celebration of this fantastic fortieth anniversary we ask you what’s your favorite moment from the book? What passage kept you up at all hours of the night? Are there any memories that still stand out long after the book has returned to the shelf?

For example: those very odd-looking flowers (p. 145). I suppose it was around 1988-90 when I first read the book, and more so this page particularly close to midnight on a rainy autumn night. The book had finally been found through inner-library loan and I thought I would read a chapter or two before bed. John however wrote a book that is incredibly hard to put down. I still remember the mind-waking shock I had when I thought it would be funny if these flowers were similar to the flowers mentioned back in chapter one. Seconds later I realized I had guessed correctly and then something outside made a noise: a dog barked or a tree limb grazed the window. I don’t know. I cannot duplicate the experience but it’s one passage I vividly remember. So much so I used to swear up and down Marilyn Fitschen had an illustration of the carved panels on the fountain and I was upset when, years later, the copy I bought for my own didn’t have the image. Suffice to say the image only appears in mind...as probably did that strange noise oh-so many years ago.

Share your remembrances here or at the John Bellairs Experience.

1 comment:

Elkins said...

I read this book over fifteen years ago, and the village of Five Dials still occasionally haunts my dreams.

#JohnBellairs