If Gorey’s philosophy of art was defined by ambiguity and contradiction, it certainly makes sense when seen in the context of his work. Not only is he frequently working in the in-between genre of the illustrated book (what is more important here? Words? Images?), the content of his books always hovered somewhere between sinister and humorous, at times deeply macabre while remaining childishly delightful. His style it is at once extremely minimalist and spare but also fastidiously detailed and specific.There are also some kind words about the bond between Bellairs's text and Gorey's art...and who else has wanted to step into the cross-hatched, cozy-chaos that Gorey creates for us?
My first introduction to Edward Gorey was as the illustrator for the John Bellairs book, “The House with a Clock in its Walls,” which the elementary school librarian read aloud to us over a period of weeks. It was a deliciously spooky book, but I was disappointed by subsequent Bellairs novels. They were never quite as exciting to me as the first one I’d encountered. However, I continued to check them out of the library almost obsessively because I was so drawn to the artwork on the covers. It seemed that the stories inside the books could never live up to the mesmerizing, horrifying images on the cover.
Certain books specifically bring back the memory of the crackle of a laminated library book jacket opening, and no books bring this memory so sharply to mind as the John Bellairs mysteries illustrated by Edward Gorey.