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The House with a Clock in Its Walls    by John Bellairs order for
House with a Clock in Its Walls
by John Bellairs
Order:  USA  Can
Puffin, 2018 (2018)
Softcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (a middle grade novel by John Bellairs, with pictures by Edward Gorey) is soon to be a major motion picture starring Cate Blanchett and Jack Black. It opens in 1948 with ten-year-old orphaned Lewis Barnavelt on a bus from Milwaukee to stay with his uncle Jonathan in New Zebedee, Michigan. Lewis has never met his uncle.

It turns out that Uncle Jonathan and his neighbor, Mrs. Zimmermann, are both magicians, with rather odd habits. For example, Jonathan goes into a trance every time a clock chimes, and tiptoes around his mansion at night. Florence Zimmermann listens with her ear to the walls of the house. But they play poker with Lewis, and Florence is the source of a constant supply of cookies. Jonathan reveals to Lewis that the mansion was previously owned by a very evil warlock, Isaac Izard, who might have left some of his black magic behind.

Lewis starts school, where he (chubby and not at all athletic) is bullied. But Tarby, a popular boy with a broken arm, befriends him - for a while. When Tarby drops the friendship, Lewis tries to impress him - with a spell he found in a book he shouldn't have looked at. Without meaning to, he brings back to life Isaac's wife, the powerful witch Serenna Izard, and time starts running out for everyone in New Zebedee.

Together, Jonathan and Florence aren't strong enough to stop Serenna, but can Lewis make the difference? Read The House with a Clock in Its Walls to find out.

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