The House with a Clock in its Walls

book
«
series
publish
alpha
Lewis had always wanted to live in a house like Uncle Jonathan's -- full of marble fireplaces and secret passageways and dozens of unused, unexplored rooms. And living with Uncle Jonathan, a real wizard, was full of fun and surprises.

But while Uncle Jonathan practiced funny and comfortable white magic, the original owner of the old house, Isaac Izard, had been an evil sorcerer. Isaac Izard had devised a plan for bringing about the end of the world. Somewhere in the walls of the house he had hidden a clock. Every night Lewis and Uncle Jonathan could hear it ticking -- sometimes loud, sometimes soft -- marking off the minutes until doomsday.

Lewis knew they had to find the clock before it was too late. Then he decided to dabble in a litte magic of his own, and their time almost ran out.

"Let me say that this is a truly scary book, and if the author's imagination got stuck at ten, he must lived an awesomely spooky tenth year." - Elain Lovitt

"...so frightening that even now, when I'm an adult and know that the main characters will get through to the end all right, I still end up skipping pages and chapters just so I can get to the end and make sure everyone survives. I'd love to figure out how he does it, but I think if I read them too closely, or too many times, I'll give myself nightmares." - Notadoor

"I have to admit, I could not stand hearing a clock tick at night after reading this book." - Bella on Books


About the Book

This is the first book in the Lewis Barnavelt series, introducing Lewis, Uncle Jonathan, and Mrs. Zimmermann.

The story was originally conceived as a contemporary adult fantasy novel.

The book celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 2013.

Adaptations

Allusions

Dedication

dedicate
For Priscilla, who lets me be myself.
Priscilla Bellairs: The publication of House was hugely exciting for us in 1973. It represented John's definitive turn towards children's lit, and the end of the longest non-publishing period in his career after his first success. He loved Edward Gorey's work and was thrilled that he'd been commissioned (and willing) to illustrate the book. I'm very happy that it is still scaring and fascinating a third generation of new readers.

Academia

Who's who?

John L. Stoddard
Lewis discovers the writings of author and traveler John Stoddard.

What's what?

Hand of Glory
Hang around long enough and you’ll learn what a Hand of Glory is and what it does.

Where's there?

Civil War Monument
New Zebedee’s Civil War Monument is based on a money-making scheme from after the American Civil War.

When's then?

Spanish Armada
Jonathan Barnavelt creates an illusion of the Spanish Armada.

Protagonists

Characters
Lewis Barnavelt
Jonathan Barnavelt
Florence Zimmermann

Antagonists

Rogues
Tarby Corrigan
Selenna Izard
Isaac Izard
Hammerhandle

Locales

Locales
New Zebedee, Michigan

Phylactery

Phylactery
Doomsday clock
Cane
Coat rack
Hand of Glory
Umbrella
Eight ball
Strange deck of cards (with Ace of Nitwits)

Jonathan came running back to the car. He slammed the door and started the motor. With a squealing of tires, he turned the car around and headed back the way they had come.

Lewis was frightened. "What's wrong, Uncle Jonathan?" he asked.

"Ask me later, Lewis. Florence, what's the best way -- other way -- back to New Zebedee?"

"Take the next side road to your right. That's Twelve Mile Road, and it runs into the Wilder Creek Road. And step on it. They're gaining."

Many times, when he had been out riding with his father and mother, Lewis had pretended that they were being followed by some car or other. It was a good game to pass the time on long dull evening rides, and he remembered how he had always felt disappointed when the mystery car turned away into a side street or a driveway. But tonight the game was for real.

Around sharp curves they went, lurching dangerously far over and squeling the tires. Up hills, down hills, then seventy or eighty miles an hour on the straightaway, which was never straight for long on these winding country roads. Lewis had never seen Jonathan drive so fast, or so recklessly. But no matter how fast he drove, the two gold circles of light still burned in his rear-view mirror.

Both Mrs. Zimmermann and Uncle Jonathan seemed to know who or what was in the car behind them -- or at least they seemed to know that it was someone that had the power to do harm. But they said as little as possible, except to confer now and then about directions. So Lewis just sat there, trying to feel comforted by the green dashboard lights and the warm breath of the heater on his knees. Of course, he also felt comforted by the two wizards, whose warm friendly bodies pressed against his in the furry darkness. But he knew that they were scared, and that made him twice as scared.