The House with a Clock in its Walls

Sometimes you’ve just gotta sit down and read a kids book to remember the joy of simple magic.

When the film came out, of course a bunch of people came in looking for John Bellairs’ The House with a Clock in its Walls. I’d never heard of the book, but apparently it was quite popular.

When Lewis Barnavelt is suddenly orphaned, he moves in with his strange uncle, Jonathan. But Lewis is in for a surprise when he discovers that his uncle is a magician, as is his crotchety next-door neighbor Mrs. Zimmermann. Lewis loves seeing the magic, and in an effort to save his only friendship, Lewis dabbles in magic himself, resurrecting an evil magician who is bent on completing her malevolent spell. Only Uncle Jonathan, Mrs. Zimmermann, and Lewis can stop her, but without magical experience, how much help can Lewis really be?

This book was a quick read, full of snarky banter between the adult characters and realistic emotion displayed by Lewis, despite the magical story. I wanted it to be longer and more fleshed out, though (but of course, it’s a kids book, not a series designed for adults). It’s a story that focuses just on what’s immediately happening, not bogged down in backstory and too much world building. But it’s simplicity makes it easy to look past that and enjoy its quick, impulsive story.

Sometimes it’s fun to go back and read kids books that I missed as a child. While I love books that keep me thinking, trying to figure out where it’s going, there’s something about kids books that puts all that on hold, and I just enjoy the story as it unfolds, without trying too hard to guess where the story is going. And sometimes that’s a kind of refreshing pallet cleanser.

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