Wednesday, April 3, 1996

CompleatBellairs: Brad Strickland Commentary

by Brad Strickland (April 3, 1996)
(Originally published at the
The Hand of the Necromancer is on track for a fall publication by Dial Books for Young Readers. The editors sent me a color photocopy of Edward Gorey's cover painting, and I am VERY impressed. It's a "different" cover from the others in a way, with a scene from the book on the back of the jacket and some sinister magical implements on the front. It reminds me of the jacket for The House with the Clock in Its Walls in a way--and it's very good and very Gorey. Mr. Gorey is now working on the frontispiece and a spot illustration for the interior.

The story concerns some magical items that Professor Childermass inherited from his late brother Peregrine (see The Chessmen of Doom). It is summer, and because Fergie is away from Duston Heights, Johnny is lonely. The ever-helpful professor recommends that he take a summer job at the Gudge Museum--and to make sure the museum will hire Johnny, the professor lends his collection of magical items to the curator. However, neither Johnny nor the professor counted on a visit from a sinister descendant of the original creator of those magical items. When he comes to town, with a burning desire to acquire his ancestor's possessions by any means, fair or foul, the fun really starts. Fortunately, Johnny also meets a new friend, the spunky and resourceful Sarah Channing. Together with the professor, they have a pretty frightening encounter with nefarious sorcery.

Although this book is not based on an outline or idea by John Bellairs, I've tried to continue his characters' adventures in a way he would have approved. He and his editor had talked for some time about including a girl character in the Johnny Dixon series, and he probably would have invented one for this book or the next. At any rate, I do hope that the faithful readers of the Johnny Dixon series will enjoy this new adventure as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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