Best of John Bellairs 2: Johnny Dixon Mysteries by John Bellairs

Bellairs, J. (2005). The best of John Bellairs 2: The Johnny Dixson mysteries. New York: Dial Books.

This collection includes three Johnny Dixon mysteries: The Curse of the Blue Figurine 1983, The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt 1984, and The Spell of the Sorcerer’s Skull 1984. All feature young Johnny Dixon whose mother died of cancer and whose father has agreed to go on active duty again for the US Air Force during the Korean Conflict. This places the time period in the early 1950s. Johnny goes to live with his grandparents in Massachusetts and becomes friends with an old professor (Professor Childermas) who lives across the street.

In The Curse of the Blue Figurine, Johnny find a hidden Egyptian figurine with a curse put on it by a former priest –turned “evil” sorcerer. This mysterious creature meets Johnny and gets him to put on a ring which then gives the sorcerer control over Johnny.

In The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt Johnny goes away to scout camp but finds a secret path to a mansion which contains a hidden mysterious will. Along the way, Johnny annoys a powerful sorceress who is the relative of the deceased and does not want a will to be found. She controls a creature which has killed several other people and which she now aims at Johnny.

In The Spell of the Sorcerer’s Skull Johnny and the Professor go on a trip to see an old clock build by the Professor’s father. During the night bizarre things happen and in a semi dream state Johnny goes into the room with the clock and disturbs a miniature skull that was in a diorama in the clock. He puts this skull in his pocket where it allows evil forces to control him. After they return from the trip, the professor mysteriously vanishes. He has been kidnapped by the Ghost/ sorcerer of a man who had a grudge against one of the professor’s ancestors. Johnny, a friend Fergi, and the local parish priest go on an adventure to Vinalhaven, Maine to rescue the professor.

These are all fun stories but it is interesting to note that in Bellairs’ earlier works (Lewis Barnavelt mysteries) the witches and warlocks were good as well as bad. In the later books they seem to be leaning to the bad side. This is unfortunate as I prefer the older more balanced stories.