Books by Brad Strickland

KONG by Joe Devito
Released: Jan. 4, 2012

Positively awash in high melodrama, this digital version of an "authorized" sequel takes readers back to Skull Island for a flashback to Kong's early years. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2010

Asteria Locke is the only survivor of a Raider attack against her father's farm. Anxious to leave the memory of her family's demise as well as the restrictive religious authority on her home world of Theron, she escapes to the Royal Spacefleet Academy, where they have to give her a place in honor of her father's past heroism. She soon settles into the routine of academic life, excelling in sports and flight simulation, and she even starts to make friends. But while she may be finding a place of her own, the Aristos of the school have it in for her: She's just too good for a commoner. And they'll stop at nothing to drum her out of the school—and to hide a shameful secret from her father's past that could change the balance of power in the universe. Good character development and plenty of momentum make this an enjoyable read, but there is clearly a lot more story ahead—this installment ends not with a cliffhanger but an anticipation of action yet to come. (Science fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

Following Grimoire: Curse of the Midions (2006), episode two is one long chase sequence as young Jarvey Midion and his capable friend Lucy Dare search for his kidnapped parents through more worlds created by his ancestors within the pages of a magic tome. Those worlds are eerie—one consists of nothing but a huge, labyrinthine theater with robot audiences created to applaud the works of a third-rate Midion playwright—and filled with dangers, but they also begin to look like refuges from the world outside the Grimoire. Could it be that the Midions aren't all as utterly villainous as they've seemed? Strickland crafts a polished, suspenseful tale, developing a scenario well-stocked with nightmares and traps while building to a battle in which Jarvey becomes a little better at controlling his own magical abilities. A serviceable continuation to a still-promising series. (Fantasy. 10-12)Read full book review >
GRIMOIRE by Brad Strickland
Released: June 1, 2006

Set around—or, rather, within—the pages of a powerful collection of spells, this suspenseful series opener traps the untrained scion of a magical family in a dismal alternate London, where numerous dangers await. Lured by a promised inheritance, Jarvey Midion and his parents fly from Georgia to London, only to be kidnapped by sinister Great Uncle Siyamon, who pitches them into a glowing volume from his library. Jarvey finds himself in grim, Dickensian "Lunnon," separated from his mom and dad but actually holding the mysterious tome. Helped by Betsy Dare, a supposed street urchin with a secret, and also by his own astonishing, if uncontrolled, ability to work magic, Jarvey eludes capture while nerving himself to confront Tantalus (another malign relative) and escape. The end leaves him, armed with but "a chance, a hope and a friend," determined to rescue his parents and take on the sorcerous Siyanon. Strickland offers a conventional but typically fast-paced tale, with nicely lurid touches and plenty of unanswered questions. Good start. (Fantasy. 11-13)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

"In terms of pushing the story along and getting Kong atop the Empire State Building, DeVito and Strickland get the job done. But whether today's readers will appreciate their faithful effort is another question."
A just-passable pulpy novel based on Meriam C. Cooper's tale King Kong, immortalized in a 1933 film, from DeVito and Strickland (Kong: King of Skull Island, 2004). Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

In comparison to the original, this addition to the series begun with John Bellairs's The House with a Clock in Its Walls (1984) falls short. Strickland seems capable of plotting a rousing world's end full of magic and doom, using many of the same characters. Misplaced is that slight touch of self-deprecation and humor of Bellairs that made Gorey the perfect illustrator. We're still in the 1950s and Lewis and his wizard Uncle Jonathan are off for a vacation with Rose Rita and Mrs. Zimmerman the neighboring witch. Where to go, but to the exact location of a supernatural tower that threatens the entire planet. Once again the wizard and the witch are caught up in their efforts to extricate themselves from danger and it takes the common sense of a boy and his friend to save not only themselves and the adults, but also the whole world. Tension mounts as events and clues unfold. Each step seems placed into a logical framework if you accept the rules at play, but the cast seems wooden, the narrative flat, and ultimately the fear never manages to creep into your bones. For fans of Bellairs hungry for another dose of his spellbinding mystery, this will serve to deaden the thirst, but not quench it. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
WHEN MACK CAME BACK by Brad Strickland
Released: June 1, 2000

In this heart-tugging period piece about a poor but proud farming family, Strickland (The Specter From the Magician's Museum, not reviewed, etc.) invites readers into the world of backcountry Georgia at the time of WWII. When ten-year-old Maury discovers a sick and starving dog lying amidst a tangle of blackberry vines, he's convinced that it's Mack, a young pup that his older brother Ben gave away to a friend when Ben enlisted in the service. But Maury's father, a pragmatic and angry man, has no time for such impractical foolishness, especially not for anything that reminds him of his elder son, who left home against his father's wishes. Times are hard, and money is scarce with no extra to waste on a sick dog. Maury, determined to save the sick pup, trades his Christmas gift—a used blue bicycle—to a friend in exchange for money to take Mack to the vet, a kind man who understands the boy's need for a companion. These characters could easily have become one-dimensional stereotypes in the hands of a less-skilled author, but Strickland paints a grimly realistic portrait of a family struggling to eke out a living from the land. Rather than an action adventure, this is a quiet story of a boy who learns to accept himself and of a man who learns to value the steadfast loyalty of a dog. Readers who believe in the mystical bond that can exist between people and animals will cheer Mack on as he slowly and quietly helps heal the emotional pain of the Painter family members. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

At first, Johnny's most serious problems are right out of the textbook for the budding adolescent: How will he survive the summer without his friend Fergie (he makes a new sandlot pal, Sarah Channing), and what will rescue him from boredom (a job Professor Childermass finds him at the town's Gudge Museum). When Mattheus Mergal, a black-clad, sinister man, appears at the museum and steals some enchanted artifacts, Johnny and Sarah launch their own witch hunt. Some frightening apparitions, terrifying nightmares, and deadly lightning bolts are visited upon the young sleuths, but they remain undaunted. When Mergal kidnaps Professor Childermass to obtain the final talisman he needs, the teens grapple with the necromancer in a battle that will leave one of them lost in the land of the dead for all time. Strickland, in his first solo work featuring the characters created by John Bellairs, leads readers on an entertaining frolic. There are enough well-placed frissons to keep readers flipping those pages, even those who know that, in keeping with series formula, all nefarious plans will be nixed. (Fiction. 10+) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

Johnny Dixon and curmudgeonly — extra-curmudgeonly in this outing — Professor Childermass battle a voodoo priestess and her grandson for control of a powerful drum, in this, the third posthumous Bellairs adventure seamlessly "completed" by Strickland. A small ceremonial drum falls into the possession of Dr. Charles Coote, Childermass's friend. Shortly after hiding it, Coote lands in the hospital, delirious — the work, it turns out, of the fearsome Mama Sinestra, a Priest of the Midnight Blood from the (fictional) Caribbean island of St. Ives. Tracking down Mama Sinestra (who is of French descent, not African) involves the zombie attacks, midnight graveyard visits, ambushes, reversals of fortune, nick-of-time rescues, and weird magic that are Bellairs's staples, as well as the discovery and destruction of a pair of particularly hideous soul-suckers Mama has tucked into people's pillows — "It glistened a sick, wet, silvery-gray color, like the slimy belly of a slug. The head showed no eyes or nose, just a pouchy, drooling mouth..." Sweet dreams, readers. But all's well that ends well as Mama Sinestra and her cohorts are vanquished, the drum is destroyed (spectacularly), a revolution on St. Ives topples the ruling cult, and Johnny's long-absent father takes military leave to put in an appearance. Formulaic but effective. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

A second posthumous Bellairs adventure (see Ghost in the Mirror, p. 296), again seamlessly completed by the author of Dragon's Plunder (1992) and other fantasies. When Lewis Barnevelt and his uncle Jonathan (last met in The Letter, the Witch and the Ring, 1976) stop over at the family manor in Sussex during a tour of Europe, Lewis accidentally releases a malevolent spirit, imprisoned since the 17th century. Later, the two are seized by the ghost of Malachiah Pruitt, a Puritan "witch-finder" defeated by a Barnevelt ancestor, now back for revenge. The atmosphere and supernatural effects here are particularly eerie, even for Bellairs; beyond the usual nightmares, portents, apparitions, and peculiar old documents, Lewis must contend with being hustled off to a hidden torture chamber and a vicious invisible monster, and barely escapes a maze with twigs that grasp like fingers and bleed when broken. With the help of Bertram, a blind friend, plus a particularly potent amulet (a nail from the True Cross, no less), Lewis banishes Pruitt and his monster and discovers an ancient golden crown. Formulaic, but satisfyingly hair-raising. (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1993

It seems only appropriate that death has not brought an end to Bellairs's career; and, happily, this posthumous collaboration has less of a thrown-together feel than his last few books. Having lost most of her magic in The Letter, The Witch and The Ring (1977), Florence Zimmerman travels back in time to recover it, taking along her friend Rose Rita Pottinger (14). Together, the two rescue a Pennsylvania Dutch family from an evil sorcerer, uncover an old chest of Revolutionary War gold, and activate a crystal ball that restores Mrs. Zimmerman's powers—not, of course, without negotiating plenty of cryptic instructions, apparitions, lurking evils, spells, and narrow escapes, plus a slavering demon or two. Though the deliciously ghastly climax suddenly comes to a halt so that the sorcerer can rehearse his motives and life story, the plot generally develops in a smooth and coherent fashion, driven along by a pair of active female characters. Still more stories are to come. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >