People are converted to many things, things like: faith, dietary decisions, exercise routines, and PBS guru’s. People convert for many reasons, and all converts have a story to share of being impacted by something that opened their minds and made them think differently about the world around them. I, myself, was converted to reading mystery novels as a sixth-grader who found solace from the “latch-key kid” scenario by snuggling up in a bean-bag chair in the corner of my public library with a book by John Bellairs.
John Bellairs, was an American mystery and thriller writer best-known for the children’s classic The House with a Clock in its Walls (1973). It’s a story about an orphan boy, Lewis, who is sent to live with his mysterious uncle in a fantastic house that has a perplexing dilemma. The story has a kind of Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe meets Flavia deLuce feel to it, and is suspenseful to the last page. The House with a Clock in its Walls starts off a Lewis Barnavelt series of twelve books, and although the books are categorized as children’s book, they are contenders to some of the best adult mystery novels I’ve come across.
Sometimes it’s nice (especially as a new year begins) to reflect on why we enjoy the things we do and when we were converted to them. Looking back for me as a young girl (who, as an adult, is an avid reader of bakery, coffee house, knitting, cat, and private-eye mystery novels), I fell in love with the adventure perpetuated from characters who were making sense of the world around them one clue at a time. So, if you’re looking for a good mystery read to cozy up to this winter, add The House with a Clock in its Walls to your list. PS- If possible find and early edition as the illustrations are delightfully Masterpiece Theatre like.