Featured Post

An Interview With Simon Loxley

Saturday, June 25, 2011

BiblioFile: La lettera la strega e l'anello

The original House trilogy, as published in the United States during the mid-1970s, was illustrated by three different and distinct artists: Edward Gorey, Mercer Meyer, and Richard Egielski.

Egielski’s illustrations for The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring (1976) were only his second published bookwork and are a marked departure from the widely-known pen-and-ink work of Gorey that has come to define most of Bellairs’ novels. Such was the difference that one reviewer took to call the gray-washed images “dark Americana" – something that immediately brought to our mind Grant Wood’s classic, American Gothic. Maybe it’s the way the perfectly round frames of Rose Rita’s glasses reminded us of the circular trees in his Wood’s paintings? Anyway, Regionalism as an art form may not have been on the forefront in the 1970s when Letter was published, but the illustrations work to describe a story that originates in the American heartland and takes us into a nightmarish world of witches and magic.

Monday, June 20, 2011

That Unbodied Figure Of His Thought

We’ve joked in years past that The Figure in the Shadows could be titled The Reader in the Shadows due to the way the story unfolds: we’re witness to a lot of things happening but we have no idea what horrific evil is prompting it.

 It’s not until the end when Mrs. Zimmermann finally connects a lot of loose threads together (based on smell, of all things...).  Without giving too much away, a spell is cast over a talisman, a spirit is trapped within this amulet that wants out, and then it is set loose into the world.  Ms. Z tells the story better so - well, Bellairs does, too, so just go read the book and then come back here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What's What: Phi Beta Kappa Key

Professor Childermass has a Phi Beta Kappa key dangling from his gold watch chain [The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt; 83]. He occasionally toys with it when thinking or nervous [The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost; 41,97].

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Time Capsule: 1692

June 7, 1692
: Today's the day when a 7.5 Magnitude earthquake struck Port Royal, Jamaica, the unofficial capital city and one of the busiest and wealthiest ports in the West Indies. It was known both as the "storehouse and treasury of the West Indies" and "one of the wickedest places on earth". The earthquake caused most of the city to sink below sea level and about 2,000 people died as a result of the earthquake and the following tsunami.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Army of Godfrey of Bouillon

Thanks to a throwaway line from Professor Childermass, we tend to think of Godfrey de Bouillon as “our soupy old friend.” While this epithet makes me think of a soap opera or a poorly-titled Charles Dickens parody (sorry turtle fans), it does make me realize I don’t know much about Godfrey.