The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder by John Bellairs & Brad Strickland
Thanks to author Brad Strickland, who picked up John Bellairs’ children’s series after Bellairs’ death, the LEWIS BARNAVELT adventures continue with the fifth installment, The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder (1993). Surprisingly, I can detect no difference between the writing styles of the two authors. Strickland continues this series with the utmost respect for Bellairs’ vision and characters.
In The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder we learn what Lewis and his uncle Jonathan were doing while Lewis’s best friend Rose Rita and Mrs. Zimmerman were having their own adventure in The Ghost in the Mirror.
If you’ll recall, in The Ghost in the Mirror we were told that Lewis and Uncle Jonathan went to Europe for the summer. Now we know they went, in part, to visit the country manor house of a cousin. The mansion is large but, because it’s not long after World War II, England is still under rations and things are a bit shabby.
Lewis makes friends with the housekeeper’s son, a blind boy named Bertie who’s about Lewis’s age. Together, the two boys get curious about some things going on in the house, accidentally release something evil into the world and, true to form for Lewis, neglect to tell the responsible adults. The consequence for this is dire and Lewis ends up in perhaps his most frightening predicament yet.
The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder is another entertaining and scary children’s story full of delightful characters who are regulars, as well as dastardly evil villains who get killed off at the end of each book. My daughter and I love the addition of Bertie and look forward to hearing more about him in subsequent books.
The English countryside setting is a nice change for this series, though Strickland doesn’t do too much with it except to provide a bit of English history. It’s fitting (and amusing) that Lewis is in his Sherlock Holmes phase in The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder and keeps asking himself WWSHD.
The Recorded Books audiobooks narrated by George Guidall continue to be an excellent way to read this series. This one is 3.5 hours long.