The Story So Far

Johnny Dixon seriesTo raise the dead. This was just one of the mysterious clues Father Higgins insisted a ghost who was haunting his home and church had left for him. When the priest disappears, Johnny Dixon and Professor Childermass discover some disturbing clues which lead them to England. There they encounter a long-dead knight -- a madman who escaped the fate of his fellow knights hundreds of years before when they were buried in an underground room. And as Johnny and the professor try to help Father Higgins, they are not only caught in a desperate struggle for their own lives -- but the destiny of all mankind.

The Secret of the Underground Room (1990), by John Bellairs, is the eight book in the Johnny Dixon series.



"As usual, Bellairs moves things along briskly, with enough chills to satisfy readers not quite ready for Stephen King." - Elaine Weischedel



"It was a chilly night, and he had turned on the electric fire in the tiny fireplace. Its glass rods glowed orange, and they were the last things that he saw before he drifted off to sleep.

A little after midnight Johnny awoke with a start. He had no idea what had aroused him, but his reaction was sudden and swift. Quickly he jammed his glasses onto his face; then he jumped out of bed and padded across the floor to his suitcase, which stood on a little folding stand near the door. Digging his hand under his clothes, he pulled out the silver crucifix and chain that Father Higgins had given him years before. Under a tiny crystal bubble in the center of the crucifix were two splinters of wood, pieces of the True Cross that Jesus had died on. After slipping the chain over his head, Johnny felt safer but still very edgy and on his guard. But what was there to be afraid of in this homey little room in a boardinghouse run by two friendly old people? As he stood wondering, Johnny heard a sound. Scratch, scratch. It sounded like fingernails clawing at glass. With fear in his heart, Johnny looked toward the dark, rain-spattered window, and he saw a face. A long pale face with dank matted hair and a weepy yellow mustache and beard. It was the face of an old man with burning hungry eyes and sunken cheeks. As Johnny watched in numb terror, the man's hands groped at the panes, and his mouth opened and closed. What was he trying to say? Inside his head Johnny heard a horrible faint whispering, but he could not understand what it said. For what seemed like a long time the nightmarish face hovered outside the window. Then the whispering faded and the sound of scratching grew faint. The face melted slowly into the rainy darkness and was gone.

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