Monday, May 12, 2014

The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt by John Bellairs

cover of The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt by John Bellairs
Book number two in the Johnny Dixon series is The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt. Overall, the book has a darkness about it. Johnny's Gramma has a brain tumor, and this illness really freaks Johnny out because he is afraid that she will die. Although the professor recognizes the symptoms of the brain tumor and gets Gramma to the hospital, she still needs surgery and a long recovery period that might not be successful. More disaster is on the way when Johnny's father, flying a fighter jet in the Korean War, goes missing after his plane is shot down. Johnny fears that his father is dead, that Gramma will die, and that Grampa will waste away without Gramma. Of course, the Professor will not want to adopt him, so Johnny gets himself in a gloomy frame of mind. That's why he goes in search of the Glomus Will. At the start of the book, the Professor and Johnny went on a road trip and visited the Glomus mansion. Johnny finds out about the lost will of H. Bagwell Glomus. Glomus had left behind some clues to the location of the will when he died, but no one had been able to figure it out. There was a reward of $10,000 if someone did find the will, and because Johnny decides that his Gramma is going to have a tumor relapse, he decides to find the will and get the money to hire the best brain surgeon for Gramma. Johnny runs away from home, with the threat of the winter's worse blizzard on the way, and makes his way to one of the houses that Glomus owned near a Boy Scout camp where Johnny had stayed. While Johnny was at the Boy Scout camp, he met up with another Duston Heights boy named Byron Ferguson, aka Fergie. When Johnny goes missing, the Professor gets Fergie, and they go off to find Johnny. Before the story is resolved and the will found, Johnny, the Professor, and Fergie have to ward off an evil witch. All is resolved by the end of the book.

The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt was a very enjoyable read. The magic elements were well-done: scary and not overdone. The puzzle of the will was thorny, and obvious, once it was explained. I still like Johnny. As Bellairs says in the book, "Johnny was a pretty strong boy, in spite of his timidity." Johnny has determination, and although he is not the best athlete, he never comes across as wimpy as Lewis Barnavelt. I love the addition of Fergie. He's smart just like Johnny, and they get into a trivia dual when they first meet. Fergie is also athletic and brave. I can't wait for the further adventures of Johnny, Fergie, and Professor Childermass.

Edward Gorey did a frontispiece and maps for the book. The Johnny Dixon series doesn't have many illustrations, but Gorey did a great job of conveying mood and plot through the few illustrations.

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