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The Face in The Frost: A Both Charming and Frightening Fantasy Tale

Updated on September 28, 2019

The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs

So it was December and the wallet was tight with all the Christmas shopping and in the winter time work slows down. So I decided to dig through my back log of books, I nabbed on stupid cheap deals that Amazon puts out throughout. And I decided to choose one at random. The book I chose is The Face in The Frost by John Bellairs and here is my review.

So the book begins in a very Lord of Rings like setting and follows an old wizard named Prospero. All seems well in his quant little home on the edge of the forest. Then some spooky things start to happen. His best friend Roger comes over and witnesses spooky stuff as well. Before they know it, dark forces start enclosing on the home. They manage to escape but they find that things are much bigger and sinister than they expected and they try to stop it.

The good? This story has a nice style to it. It’s a mix of Tolkien, Rowling, and some old school horror. It’s a random mix of things that sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it does. It’s a very unique writing style with a fantastic flow. The story is well done, but not ground breaking. The leads are different compared to anything I read. I can’t remember a book where the focus was on two elderly men. Then lastly, this book has some downright creepy if not scary moments. Some of the imagery in this book is shocking and terrifying, and oddly enough this got to me. This is bizarre because for years I searched for something scary. I tried King, Hill, Barker, Lovecraft and a number of other horror authors. They all had little impact on me. So I was impressed by what this book did. The well known horror masters that get all the praise come off as mildly creepy to me and does not hold a candle to some of the scenes in this book. And I love that. It caught me by total surprise. This will scratch a dark fantasy horror itch if you have one.

The bad? The setting is established as a Tolkien like world, but it’s stated its 1943 at one point and there’s reference to a baseball game somewhere far away. But it seems to not be part of this world or country or island or whatever this place is. It is never clear what place this is, or how it relates to the real world and why it seems so separated from it. Then there is the tone. This will quant and charming for a while then something horrifying will happen. It will linger a while and then it will return to that previous charming tone. This yoyo of these two tones happens throughout the whole book and it takes a bit getting used to as it is quite strange. Also the ending was very strange. It cuts off in the middle of the climax. Then it picks up month later when the story is finished, as one of the leads is telling the story ending to someone else. It’s an odd jarring choice, because it pulled me right of the huge suspenseful scene.

Overall, the book is an odd one. It’s tonally strange. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a good read. So if you ever wanted horror version of Lord of the Rings, this is a good choice. If you’re looking for a dark fantasy this is such a great pick. You should know by now by reading this review, if you’ll like it. Go pick it up if this sounds like your thing.

3 smoothies out of Four.

Overall Rating: A Both Charming and Frightening Fantasy Tale

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