Magazine October 15, 2018, Issue

Gothic Nostalgia

Jack Black and Cate Blanchett in The House with a Clock in Its Walls (Universal Pictures)

The novelist John Bellairs, whose books were one of the great pleasures of my youth, wrote young-adult thrillers that could be usefully described as Middle American Catholic Gothic. Set in Minnesota and Michigan and Massa­chusetts in the 1950s, they featured wimpy nerdy heroes and tomboy heroines hanging out in weird old houses with crotchety professors and magician uncles, and plots in which some hodgepodge of ancient and medieval arcana was required to preempt the world-ending plans of wicked wizards and their demonic familiars.

As Eve Tushnet wrote in a recent essay on Bellairs for The University Bookman, the books were

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Books, Arts & Manners




A reader sympathizes with Rael Jean Isaac’s frustration in reporting on Frank Fuster’s plight (“The Last Victim,” September 10).


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