THE DARK SECRET OF WEATHEREND

Some of Bellairs' recent sorcery/mystery-adventures (e.g., The Curse of the Blue Figurine) have made the characters as important as the spookery. Here, however, the accent is on a wild, ghoulish plot, even if the laconic narration and wry dialogue keep things from getting heavy or morbid. As in The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn (1978), Bellairs' hero is 14-year-old Anthony Monday, growing up in mid-1950s rural Minnesota—with lots of moral support from elderly librarian Miss Eells, his best friend. And the trouble begins when Miss Eells, fending off the boredom of a temporary assignment to a dead "hick town" branch, leads Anthony on a hike to the abandoned Weatherend estate of "major fruitcake" J. K. Borkman: Anthony finds the late Mr. Borkman's handwritten memoirs—all about his apocalyptic ideas on weather-control magic—under some rotting boards. Could there be a link, then, between crazy Borkman and the bizarre weather that soon starts afflicting Minnesota? Anthony thinks so; Miss Eells disagrees. ("You're making a big fat hairy mistake.") But what about the sudden arrival of Borkman's creepy, bearded son Anders—who secretly hypnotizes Anthony and Miss Eells into some highly strange behavior? (Miss E. goes berserk at a prim library tea.) Isn't it obvious that Borkman Jr. "is a cold-blooded fanatic who will stop at nothing to carry out the ghastly plans of his maniac father?" It is indeed. So, with help from Miss E.'s lawyer-brother Emerson, Anthony and Miss E. launch an attack on Weatherend—only to find themselves repelled by homocidal leaves and other occult forces. Then, determined to learn the Borkman family secrets, they set off for a cemetery in Duluth (the resting place of Borkman Sr.). And finally, after contending with Borkmanesque obstacles along the way (blizzards, shape-shifting goblins), they invade the Borkman tomb and have a creepy showdown with Borkman Jr.—a non-human entity who is handily destroyed (by not-very-persuasive forces). Anthony is less three-dimensional here than he was in his debut; the plot gets murky and frenetic at the close. But Miss Eells remains a no-nonsense, imperfect guardian angel—and there's a nice balance most of the way through between folksy charm and gently intense suspense.

Pub Date: May 1, 1984

ISBN: 014038006X

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1984

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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CINDERELLA

This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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