I suppose the jury is out. Some fans of Bellairs may appreciate the chance to see his work continue, compensating in some degree for his untimely loss. Others may feel emotions ranging from irritation at having to distinguish between books Bellairs really wrote and those ghost-written after his death, to heartbreak at seeing a most unique creative mind lose control over the fruit of his imagination. My personal feelings, however, are not mixed. I do not plan to read anything to which Brad Strickland set his hand. The way I mean to mourn for the genius of John Bellairs is to read all the books that he actually wrote, period.
I look forward to keeping it, treasuring it, re-reading it, singing its praises, and sharing it—starting here, with you. Evidently this is because his publisher, from some time in the early s, discouraged him from trying to write adult fantasy, a genre that had not yet begun to thrive.
First, however, he gave us this one book about a grown-up wizard named Prospero not the one in The Tempest by Shakespeare , his best friend Roger Bacon, and their chillingly dangerous search for the root of a great evil that has begun to darken their unnamed country. He also started to write a sequel to this book, titled The Dolphin Cross —but neither Bellairs himself, during the last decade of his life, nor his ghost-writers since, ever finished it. The story opens with Prospero at home on a late summer day when he feels particularly uneasy. In the evening he receives an unexpected visit from his friend Roger Bacon, and the two discuss unusual phenomena that have transpired lately, especially those concerning a mysterious book for which Roger has been searching England.
Once they regain their normal size they visit a library of records where Prospero discovers, as Roger stands guard outside, that a seal appearing in the mysterious aforementioned book belongs to Melichus, an old rival of his. Unfortunately, at that point a person comes into the library and claims to have killed Roger. Prospero flees the library and spends the night in a nearby town, where he luckily escapes an attack from some sort of evil creature sent by Melichus.
The following day he travels to the cursed grove where Melichus is supposed to be buried, only to discover that the one buried there is not Melichus, but only one of his former servants. He presumes, therefore, that Melichus is still alive. After narrowly escaping from the cursed grove he travels to the town of Five Dials, where he stays at an inn with somewhat unsettling clientele and staff. Unable to sleep, he becomes suspicious of the inn and begins checking the other rooms, only to find them all empty.
In the last room he finds the innkeeper with a large knife and flees the inn, whereupon he discovers that the entire town was an illusion presumably created by Melichus. At last, Prospero and Roger are reunited at the actual site called Five Dials, a lone inn on the edge of the country. Here they discuss why Melichus is after Prospero: they once created a magical item together, a kind of crystal ball resembling a green glass paperweight.
They also determine that Melichus is using the mysterious book mentioned early in the story to create a permanent winter over the world. While staying the night at Five Dials they meet a small armed force that intends to attack a village across the border. Bow, Erin. Brown, Graham. Baker, E. Battis, Jes. Billingsley, Franny. Bowers, Phillipa.
The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs
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The Face in the Frost: A short, charming, classic fantasy
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Bujold, Lois McMaster. Banks, Annmarie. Beckett, Chris. Blackburne, Livia. Bray, Libba. Bulgakov, Mikhail. Banks, Dakota. Beckett, Galen. Blackwell, Juliet. Bray, Patricia. Bulkin, Nadia. Banks, Iain M. Beddor, Frank.
You Should Read This: The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs
Blackwood, Algernon. Brenchley, Chaz. Bull, Emma. Banks, L. Belcher, R. Blake, E. Brennan, Allison.
Bullen, Alexandra. Banner, Catherine.
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