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The Face in the Frost

Written by: John Bellairs
Narrated by: Eric Michael Summerer
Length: 5 hrs and 6 mins

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Publisher's Summary

A fantasy classic by the author of The House with a Clock in Its Walls - basis for the Jack Black movie - and "a writer who knows what wizardry is all about" (Ursula K. Le Guin).  

A richly imaginative story of wizards stymied by a power beyond their control, A Face in the Frost combines the thrills of a horror novel with the inventiveness of fairy-tale-inspired fantasy.   

Prospero, a tall, skinny misfit of a wizard, lives in the South Kingdom - a patchwork of feuding duchies and small manors, all loosely loyal to one figurehead king. Along with his necromancer friend Roger Bacon, who has been on a quest to find a mysterious book, Prospero must flee his home to escape ominous pursuers. Thus begins an adventure that will lead him to a grove where his old rival, Melichus, is falsely rumored to be buried and to a less-than-hospitable inn in the town of Five Dials - and ultimately into a dangerous battle with origins in a magical glass paperweight.   

With a unique blend of humor and darkness, it remains one of the most beloved tales by the Edgar Award-nominated author also known for the long-running Lewis Barnavelt series.

©1969 John Bellairs (P)2019 Tantor

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  • Elisabeth Carey
  • 2019-03-16

Funny, delightful, fantasy for adults

Bellairs is best known for his children's books, with an added boost recently from The House With a Clock in Its Walls being released as a movie.

This isn't a kids' book. Not that it contains any inappropriate content, and there are undoubtedly kids who would enjoy it.

This book, though, is aimed at adults who will enjoy the wordplay, the humor that rests on familiarity with things kids the age of Bellairs' usual readers haven't read yet, being aware of who the "other" Prospero is and recognizing the name of Roger Bacon, and...but no. Wait. Kids would enjoy the transition from the comic beginnings to the terrifying opponent.

The basic story isn't remarkable. Two good wizards discover evidence of an evil wizard at work with dark intentions, and set out to stop him. What is remarkable is graceful, elegant, and extremely funny use of language and familiar literary imagery to create a delightfully original and absorbing story for adult readers.

I have a deep and abiding love for this story, and its author, and, weirdly, for the discovery that the women's Catholic college he taught English at for a year, and was deeply unhappy at, was in fact my own alma mater--and that he was fondly remembered there as a good, likable, interesting guy--not by the English department, but by the history department. And specifically, the chair of the history department, who was my adviser.

It's the sort of whimsy that's entirely appropriate for John Bellairs. Who, yes, really was a good, likable, interesting guy.

This story is highly recommended and a lot of fun.

I bought this audiobook.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Aerieforgeandpipe
  • 2019-10-13

One of my favorite stories.

I love this story. Classic pipe smoking, beer drinking wizards in a fun little story.

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  • Bruce
  • 2019-04-09

Subtleness abounds

I had to listen to this twice to get the fuller appreciation of this work. By the end, I realized that what I needed was the assurance that the story would eventually go somewhere beyond, presumably in a sequel. Hopefully some day I can look at The Dolphin Cross. While reading, I imagined Gandolf in his off moments, Diana Wynn Jones whispering authorial advice from off-stage. As with Bellairs YA works, the story is mellow and enjoyable. The story's brevity makes it a risk-free investment for the listener/reader.

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  • Patrick S.
  • 2019-03-18

I'm so happy that Audible released this!

This classic short fantasy work is celebrating the 50th anniversary of it's publication this year and I couldn't be happier that it has been re-released as an Audible Audiobook. The narrator does a great job at bringing the story to life, and the words feel as fresh as the day that Bellairs first wrote them down. Highly recommended!