When thirteen-year-old Johnny Dixon and his friend Professor Childermass try to save the life of the elderly Dr. Coote, they find themselves facing the forces of a menacing voodoo cult
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John Anthony Bellairs (1938 1991) is an award-winning American author, perhaps best known for his fantasy novel The Face in the Frost. He is also the author of many gothic mystery novels for children and young adults, including The House with a Clock in its Walls (which received both the New York Times Outstanding Book of Award and the American Library Association Children's Books of International Interest Award), The Lamp from the Warlock’s Tomb (which won the Edgar Allen Poe Award), and The Specter from the Magician’s Museum (which won the New York Public Library "Best Books for the Teen Age" Award.
Johnny Dixon and curmudgeonly--extra-curmudgeonly in this outing--Professor Childermass battle a voodoo priestess and her grandson for control of a powerful drum, in this, the third posthumous Bellairs adventure seamlessly ``completed'' by Strickland. A small ceremonial drum falls into the possession of Dr. Charles Coote, Childermass's friend. Shortly after hiding it, Coote lands in the hospital, delirious--the work, it turns out, of the fearsome Mama Sinestra, a Priest of the Midnight Blood from the (fictional) Caribbean island of St. Ives. Tracking down Mama Sinestra (who is of French descent, not African) involves the zombie attacks, midnight graveyard visits, ambushes, reversals of fortune, nick-of-time rescues, and weird magic that are Bellairs's staples, as well as the discovery and destruction of a pair of particularly hideous soul-suckers Mama has tucked into people's pillows--``It glistened a sick, wet, silvery-gray color, like the slimy belly of a slug. The head showed no eyes or nose, just a pouchy, drooling mouth...'' Sweet dreams, readers. But all's well that ends well as Mama Sinestra and her cohorts are vanquished, the drum is destroyed (spectacularly), a revolution on St. Ives topples the ruling cult, and Johnny's long-absent father takes military leave to put in an appearance. Formulaic but effective. (Fiction. 10-12) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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