John Bellairs: The House With A Clock In Its Walls

THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS (Lewis Barnavelt book #1)
by John Bellairs
narrated by George Guidall
(children’s urban fantasy)

For a while I wasn’t sure I was going to finish this one. I got this audio book on CD from the library, you see, and the middle discs were a bit scratched up in places. By the time I hit the first major scratchy section, I was interested in the story, but not so invested in the characters that I had to keep reading. I was driving at the time, and my car’s CD player got through the scratchy section before I got frustrated enough to take the disc out, so I did keep listening.

After that, though, I was curious and looked up the publication date of the book. 1973. And that explained a LOT. This is not your average modern-day story. Not even when you take the age of the protagonist (and therefore the target audience) into account. It moves much more slowly than I’m used to for modern books, and its descriptions focus on different things. I was able to enjoy it a lot more when I considered when it was written. As an example, I don’t judge THE HOBBIT or THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE by the same standards as modern books. In the same vein, this book should be looked at in a different light than one published yesterday.

When it comes down to it, I did enjoy the book and the story. I liked the plot more than the characters, but that is largely due to the difference in focus in the writing style. Modern books are faster-paced, and are often more character-centric. Older books tend to be more descriptive, and more plot-centric. I can’t recommend this universally, because I think some modern readers will get bored with it. But if you’re looking for a fun read – especially a kid-oriented book with no bad language – this could easily be something for you. Just be prepared for a slower pace than normal, and you’ll be fine.

Also, the narration of the audio book version was good. Not excellent, because I prefer a little more variation in character voices when listening to a story. However, it was still easy to listen to (minus the scratches) and I had no complaints with the narration part (compared to the dialogue).

Rating: 3 stars

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