If you read and enjoyed the titles on my previous list of Johnny Dixon mysteries, then I have another series to recommend to you! These are the adventures of Lewis Barnavelt, another creation from the brilliant mind of John Bellairs. While Johnny’s adventures focused on him and his two friends (Byron “Fergie” Ferguson and Professor Roderick Childermass), Lewis has a whole host of adventures with his wizard uncle and their magical neighbor. So, whether you’re looking for “magic is bad” (Johnny Dixon) or “magic is awesome” (Lewis Barnavelt), there’s a series for you!

Orphaned Lewis Barnavelt is sent to stay with his eccentric Uncle Jonathan, but soon discovers that Jonathan is more than your ordinary uncle. He is, in fact, a powerful magician (and so is his neighbor, Mrs. Zimmermann)! As Lewis enters into a new world full of magic and mystery, life will never be the same again! However, as he soon learns, magic, while fun and exciting, is really not something to be trifled with. At first, it’s enough to just watch, but soon Lewis wants to try using magic himself. His own experiments result in the resurrection of the home’s previous owner, Selenna Izard. But, Selenna and her husband had built a special timepiece into the walls of the house–a clock that could obliterate all of humankind. Only Lewis and Uncle Jonathan will be able to stop it!

As with the Johnny Dixon books, the series is started by John Bellairs, but was completed by Brad Strickland, after his death. In this case, the first four books (The House with a Clock in its Walls, The Figure in the Shadows, The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring, and The Ghost in the Mirror) were written by Bellairs, The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder and The Doom of Haunted Opera were started by Bellairs, but completed by Strickland, and the remaining seven volumes were only written by Strickland.

In our collection, we have the first five books in our children’s section, but the entire series can be found on Hoopla as a digital audiobook read by George Guidall. If you’d like to read the books, they can be found via the links above. If you want to listen to the books, you can find them on Hoopla here.

Finally, let’s wrap this list up with a movie. The first book in the Lewis Barnavelt series was made into a movie starring Jack Black in 2018. You can find it in our collection here.


I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.