Sunday, February 18, 2018
THE LAMP FROM THE WARLOCK'S TOMB by John Bellairs
Anthony and Miss Eells are browsing an antique shop when the owner mysteriously shows Miss Eells an old oil lamp, one that gives Anthony the willies but Miss Eells buys for s suspiciously low price. Anthony later borrows it from her to use as part of a science fair project...and he sees a gruesome phantom at the school (the illustration above) and a night watchman dies a bizarre death. More ghostly happenings, the theft of the lamp, and another bizarre death happen before they figure out what is going on and why.
This is one of the better works in Bellairs' world. The plot is a little wobbly at times but still makes sense, and the menace is real. The villain has a truly heinous plot in mind, but there's another factor that could do them in, that's not a deus ex machina but something lurking in the shadows from the very start. There's also some good, real detective work, some weird murals and artwork, an old house on an island, and a wintry setting. There's a fiery climax like something from one of Roger Corman's Poe films, but also a very nicely creepy denouement that I greatly appreciated.
There's a major nod to M. R. James in this one, specifically "The Tractate Middoth," in that you have a ghastly spectre of a bald man with cobwebs over his face, and a strange tomb. And there's a touch of the Lovecraftian universe as the Lamp of Alhazred, a relic from the Cthulhu mythos, is mentioned.
All in all, a fun read, and a worthy part of the Bellairs canon, probably the best book of the Anthony Monday series....and there's only one left...