So, having got the idea to try some John Bellairs from Jean at Howling Frog, I went with The Curse of the Blue Figurine because it was available free through Kindle Unlimited. This is the first of a series of stories starring Johnny Dixon and his friend and neighbor Professor Childermass. I don’t know how similar the rest of the series is. The first one introduces Johnny who’s mother has died recently and whose father is a pilot in the Korean conflict. So, Johnny is living with his grandparents and seems to be adapting fairly well. He likes listening to adventures on the radio, he’s good in school, likes reading, but is having trouble with a bully. In trying to evade his tormentor he leaves school one day and slips into the church. His neighbor the professor had told him a story earlier about the priest disappearing and now haunting this church. Johnny doesn’t see the ghost, but he does find a mysterious blue figurine — an Egyptian shawabti and a warning not to take it from the church. But of course Johnny does and this sets off a series of events both natural and un-, or is it all in Johnny’s head?
I enjoyed reading this and will probably read some more of his. Children’s literature tends to have a comforting effect. Except for a certain kind of book which always won prizes when I was a kid, that I never really liked, in which animals got killed or children got killed or people were enslaved, anything too realistic, in short, most kids’ books you know nothing too horrible is going to happen and good guys will win, bad guys will lose and all will come right at the end.
I did have one minor quibble [Spoiler alert] Why did the evil old priest warn people not to take the shawabti from the church, when he needed someone to do so? Reverse psychology? And when the heck did he even write that note? Actually all the stuff about the priest and his nefarious activities are left seriously vague. Hoping in future books he does a better job of explaining how certain events come to pass, like how the priest’s ashes came to be on top of this mountain. [End spoilers]