Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Looking Back Bellairs -- The Dark Secret of Weatherend

Our tale begins sometime in the 1950s during a hot disgusting summer. Anthony Monday and his boss/friend, Miss Myra Eells decide that this would be a good time to go exploring and maybe commit some breaking and entering while at it. Anthony and Miss Eells break into the seemingly abandoned Weatherend Estate -- property once owned by an eccentric millionaire who probably practiced the dark arts (man, Minnesota seems to have a lot of those) -- and after Miss Eells pulls a dojikko act and breaks something, they find the diary of the former owner JK Rowling Simmons Borkman.

Then, surprising to no one, the estate is not really unoccupied and Anthony and Miss Eells are chased off by some dude with a dog. Small matter because once they're in Hoosac, they look through their score and realize the diary doesn't make a whole lot of sense. So they put away and nothing happens for a little bit.

As fall comes and descends into winter, Hoosac and surrounding areas begin to have extremely strange weather patterns. Anthony thinks back to the diary and saw Borkman talked about destroying the world with weather. He brings it up to his loved ones who basically wonder about his sanity and that is it. Even Miss Eells doesn't buy it.

That all changes when it turns out Anders Borkman, JK Borkman's son, takes up the estate and pays Miss Eells and Anthony a visit asking for the diary. He uses some kind of magic which forces them to give it up but they don't remember exactly how or why. But jokes on Anders because Anthony was testing out the 1950s equivalent of a copier and made a copy of it. Miss Eells believes Anthony now and enlists the help of her lawyer, occult enthusiast brother, Emerson Eells.

Emerson creates a plan in which he would disguise himself as an electrician while Myra and Anthony would try to take the magical stuff in the statues used in the weather ritual. It doesn't work. Myra and Anthony are transported somewhere in the snow and Emerson disappears.

After rereading the diary, Myra and Anthony find that there is part of the ritual in JK Borkman's tomb in Duluth. Thus begins an adventure there while they were almost led off course by Not-Emerson. And yay! They destroy the talisman Borkman's corpse clasped which destroyed Anders -- who was not a real boy -- and Emerson comes back. The world is saved until the next book.

Random Thoughts

+ The lesson I learned here is climate change is most likely the result of a Minnesota-based wizard
+ Out of Bellairs' three leads, only Anthony is a heathen. However, Miss Eells will probably save his soul because she is the source of all things Catholic
+ If this book was ever made into a movie, all I can see that there is a montage of Anthony fiddling with the copier cuz why not?
+ I keep on picturing Emerson looking like Martin Freeman a la Fargo, complete with accent because you know, Minnesota
+ When it comes to property, Miss Eells is practically a socialist...?

Does it Hold Up?

Here's the thing. I don't think I read this one as a kid. I do remember there was one Bellairs book I could never seem to find and this was before the days of Amazon. It was this book. I remember going to used bookstores, new bookstores, the library and I could not find the second Anthony Monday book.

 And I might as well because I found this book particularly difficult to finish. It didn't flow as well as the others did. I felt there were too many points of unnecessary detail. Like the whole thing with Oxenstern and Miss Eells losing her job temporarily, I just couldn't see how it really tied into the narrative.

The sad part is, is there were a lot of cool concepts in it. The idea of a villain wanting to destroy the world with weather. Gotta give him props for creativity at least. And the scene with Not-Emerson were especially well done, tension-wise. That was probably the only moment when I felt on the edge of my seat.

Otherwise, I consider this to be the weakest book thus far.

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