The Figure In The Shadows: Exciting, scary, and sweet

The Figure In The Shadows by John Bellairs science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Figure In The Shadows by John Bellairs science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Figure In The Shadows by John Bellairs

Lewis Barnavelt, 11 years old and recently orphaned, has been settling in at his uncle’s house. It’s 1949, about a year since we saw him last (in The House With a Clock in Its Walls) and he has made a new friend – a tomboy named Rose Rita.

When Uncle Jonathan opens a trunk owned by his father (Lewis’s grandfather), Lewis, a lover of history, is bequeathed with his grandfather’s lucky coin. When he begins wearing the coin around his neck, weird things start happening to Lewis. He gets strange postcards in the middle of the night. He suddenly overcomes his cowardice and punches a bully. He fights with Rose Rita and becomes suspicious of her. He gets the feeling that someone is following him.

Lewis is coming undone but, thankfully, he has a few people who really care for him. There’s Rose Rita, his uncle Jonathan, and their neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman, a widow with magical powers. When they finally connect Lewis’s odd behavior with an old murder mystery, they realize he’s in trouble and they spring into action to help him.

The Figure In The Shadows by John Bellairs science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Figure in The Shadows (1975) is another creepy children’s mystery by John Bellairs. It’s exciting, scary, and sweet. Lewis is a nice kid but, being pudgy and weak, he has trouble with bullies and wishes he was as brave as his friend Rose Rita (a girl!). In this story we see him try to eat healthier and begin an exercise program but, when he doesn’t see immediate results, he gives up. It’s easy to understand and feel for Lewis, even when he does stupid things.

My daughter and I really enjoyed listening to The Figure in The Shadows together. Recorded Books’ audio edition, three hours long and narrated by George Guidall, is excellent. We liked this one a little better than the previous book because the ending was not as hasty. We’ve already started the next book, The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring.

Published in 1975. A classic fantasy/mystery from critically acclaimed novelist John Bellairs. Lewis thought the amulet would bring him good luck — instead, it brought nothing but evil. Lewis is sure that Grandpa Barnavelt’s 1859 lucky coin is really a magic talisman in disguise. With its power, he could do anything he wanted — like get back at bully Woody Mingo. But as soon as he begins wearing the coin around his neck, strange things start to happen. Mysterious letters arrive in the dead of night. A strange, shadowy figure seems to be tracking him. And when Lewis finally gets his revenge on Woody, he feels as if someone else is inside his body, urging him to go even further. Has Lewis awakened a force beyond his control?

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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