Archives: The Face in the Frost

Holiday Reading

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Christmas is behind you. The detritus of wrapping paper, bows, packing material, and boxes has been disposed of. The refrigerator is stuffed with leftovers. You hope to make enough room for party platters and bottles of champagne within a few days. The presents of clothing are washed, folded, and put away.

And now you’re looking forward to utilizing the best of the presents: the bookstore gift cards. What to buy? Relax, dear reader. I’m here to help.

The Elfin Ship

Feeling, as I did, a trifle lonesome with my wife and daughter out of town for the week, “The Elfin Ship” by James P. Blaylock provided the ideal anodyne. It’s a warm fireplace and mug of hot, honeyed tea kind of book. Literature as comfort food.

“The Elfin Ship” fits the tradition of the leisurely road trip filled with adventures and perils that feel at less-than-serious on the surface, but ominous beneath the light-hearted prose. The book would be at home on the shelf next to “The Wind in the Willows,” “The Hobbit,” and “The Face in the Frost.” It’s the upper middle-class Englishman analogue stirred from his complacency and sent on a colorful round trip. You never truly fear he’ll fail to return and get to enjoy every way stop, every pipe smoked and tankard of ale drunk.

It is not easy feat maintaining this tone consistently for the duration of a long narrative. Given that “The Elfin Ship” was Mr. Blaylock’s first published novel, my hat is off to him.

My apologies for the brevity of this post. I’ve got some house-cleaning to attend to. My ladies are due back home in a couple of days and I fear my short reversion to bachelorhood has left the place rather a mess.

The Face in the Frost

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This another of my erratically spaced web log posts concerning the books of Appendix N. Today I consider “The Face in the Frost” by John Bellairs, a delightfully charming short novel.

Bellairs is known for children’s books and at first glance “The Face in the Frost” seems to fit that categorization. It begins whimsically. And a certain sense of whimsy suffuses the entire narrative. But the story soon turns onto increasingly dark pathways. This is not a children’s book.  Real dread prevents the comical adventures of Prospero (“not the one you are thinking of”) and Roger Bacon from becoming too light to take seriously.