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The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost

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Collapsed in a weird trance, Johnny Dixon is dying. Professor Childermass and Fergie soon learn the horrifying reason: Johnny is possessed by the spirit of the evil Warren Windrow. In a desperate effort to find a clue that will save Johnny's life, the professor and Fergie race to the gloomy Windrow estate. But demonic forces are waiting for them, and suddenly they're fight Collapsed in a weird trance, Johnny Dixon is dying. Professor Childermass and Fergie soon learn the horrifying reason: Johnny is possessed by the spirit of the evil Warren Windrow. In a desperate effort to find a clue that will save Johnny's life, the professor and Fergie race to the gloomy Windrow estate. But demonic forces are waiting for them, and suddenly they're fighting for their own lives.


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Collapsed in a weird trance, Johnny Dixon is dying. Professor Childermass and Fergie soon learn the horrifying reason: Johnny is possessed by the spirit of the evil Warren Windrow. In a desperate effort to find a clue that will save Johnny's life, the professor and Fergie race to the gloomy Windrow estate. But demonic forces are waiting for them, and suddenly they're fight Collapsed in a weird trance, Johnny Dixon is dying. Professor Childermass and Fergie soon learn the horrifying reason: Johnny is possessed by the spirit of the evil Warren Windrow. In a desperate effort to find a clue that will save Johnny's life, the professor and Fergie race to the gloomy Windrow estate. But demonic forces are waiting for them, and suddenly they're fighting for their own lives.

30 review for The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost

  1. 4 out of 5

    Calista

    I love this series. Johnny Dixon is great middle grade fiction. If you like gothic scary castles, wizards, ghosts, and the unexplained, then your kids will enjoy this. At the end of the Spell of the Sorcerer's skull Professor Childermass had been possessed by a horrible demon. Johnny broke that spell and set him free. Now, the dead wizard has a bone to pick with Johnny and he becomes possessed. He goes all 'Exorcist' and the Professor now has to track down some ancient Jewish objects to break th I love this series. Johnny Dixon is great middle grade fiction. If you like gothic scary castles, wizards, ghosts, and the unexplained, then your kids will enjoy this. At the end of the Spell of the Sorcerer's skull Professor Childermass had been possessed by a horrible demon. Johnny broke that spell and set him free. Now, the dead wizard has a bone to pick with Johnny and he becomes possessed. He goes all 'Exorcist' and the Professor now has to track down some ancient Jewish objects to break the possession. The professor and Fergie set off on an adventure. The only problem with this is that Johnny is in a coma most of the book and he is not part of the story. Still, Fergie and the professor are entertaining and they get into some gothic style scary places suited for children. John Bellairs doesn't shy away from dark magic and the unexplainable in life. John is a fantastic writer and it holds up well. I think young people will enjoy these fantastic books. They are a good kind of magic in themselves.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bev

    The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost (1985) by John Bellairs is the fourth in a series of middle grade Gothic mystery/adventure books featuring thirteen-year-old Johnny Dixon and his friends, Professor Childermass and Fergie. In the previous story (The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull), Johnny had helped break a spell that held the professor helpless. But now the wizard has a bone to pick with the boy who spoiled his plans and sends the evil ghost of one of his relatives, Warren Windrow, to possess y The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost (1985) by John Bellairs is the fourth in a series of middle grade Gothic mystery/adventure books featuring thirteen-year-old Johnny Dixon and his friends, Professor Childermass and Fergie. In the previous story (The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull), Johnny had helped break a spell that held the professor helpless. But now the wizard has a bone to pick with the boy who spoiled his plans and sends the evil ghost of one of his relatives, Warren Windrow, to possess young Johnny. The professor calls on one of his friends, a priest, to perform an exorcism, but the evil spirit proves too strong. So, it's up to Professor Childermass and Fergie to discover the means to save their friend. Research into the Windrow family history reveals that the source of the wizard's power comes from ancient Jewish artifacts that are rumored to be buried on the family's abandoned estate. But they will have to decipher clues relating to the final resting place of one of the Windrow family. Will they be able to find the artifacts in time to save Johnny...and themselves? This is the first book that I have read by Bellairs--I somehow missed him when I was a young reader. I noticed that many reviews on Goodreads say that this is not Bellairs at his best. But I must say that I thought this a very nice middle grade book and I'm quite sure I would have loved it when I was young. I love the cover and frontispiece by Edward Gorey. I enjoy the three main characters, even though we don't see as much of Johnny since he spends a great deal of time possessed or in a coma-like condition. And the action that takes place in the gloomy Windrow mansion is good and spooky. The only real issue is the ending--the way the artifacts are employed in order to save Johnny is a bit of a let down. After the wizardry that goes on in the house, one might expect a little more pizazz in the rescue. So, I'll give this one ★★★ and a half. First posted on my blog My Reader's Block. Please request permission before reposting. Thanks.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Giulia Fiorile

    I was reading "The House With A Clock In Its Walls" and as soon as I saw the first illustration I realized, I've seen this style before! I loved this book as a child. I had no idea it was part of such a big series, I would have read them all. I can't wait to reread this one! I was reading "The House With A Clock In Its Walls" and as soon as I saw the first illustration I realized, I've seen this style before! I loved this book as a child. I had no idea it was part of such a big series, I would have read them all. I can't wait to reread this one!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cupof Tea

    The thing I love the most about the John Bellairs books is the artwork by Edward Gorey. This story is a bit patchy, but fun to read aloud. Our 'hero' Johnny Dixon spends much of this story in a coma (possibly from some sort of demonic possession), and Fergie and the professor are the heroes in this tale. Set in 1952, the language used is quaint, the towns of New England a creepy, gothic, historical backdrop to the supernatural mysteries being investigated. Like Stephen King meets the Scoobies pl The thing I love the most about the John Bellairs books is the artwork by Edward Gorey. This story is a bit patchy, but fun to read aloud. Our 'hero' Johnny Dixon spends much of this story in a coma (possibly from some sort of demonic possession), and Fergie and the professor are the heroes in this tale. Set in 1952, the language used is quaint, the towns of New England a creepy, gothic, historical backdrop to the supernatural mysteries being investigated. Like Stephen King meets the Scoobies plus a Latin lesson for adolescent readers. I mention Buffy, because in reading these last two stories, I have noticed in the simplicity of the plot and details left out save a few interesting puzzles they solve (although I solved them first, probably because I had read them before and they actually stuck in my memory), a likeness to a television episode. The characters have a new Big Bad to face each novel. Another series to follow up on and finish. I am rereading some of these books to see how they look from an adult/future perspective, and I have found some things stick out now. In every chapter of the book, the professor is smoking an imported black and gold cigarette! Parents nowadays would have serious concerns of that many references to an unhealthy habit. Of course, not all parents would want their kids reading about Catholic exorcism and mysticism and magic either. And certainly it might be viewed with a tiny bit more cynicism sending your 13-year-old boy on a road trip with a cranky old chain-smoking professor (or with a middle-aged Irish priest as Johnny did to save the professor in the novel before). However, the characters are believable and very different personalities, brought together by friendship. It was a simpler time then, when to while away a Sunday night you got together to play chess or cards, ate chocolate cake, and relaxed with a baseball game on the radio. (also, you had to ride your bike to a payphone to call an ambulance... so some things may be an improvement?) A quick read and very enjoyable to revisit a part of my past.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Justin K. Rivers

    A direct sequel to The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull, this is an entertaining novel, but not one of Bellairs' best. With Johnny barely clinging to life, possessed by the malevolent spirit of an old wizard, Bellairs gives us a great setup. But the plot falls down a bit towards the end. Part of the problem with Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost is that the ghost in question, and the revenge in question, are really supposed to be directed at Prof. Childermass. In the previous book, the ghost was avengi A direct sequel to The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull, this is an entertaining novel, but not one of Bellairs' best. With Johnny barely clinging to life, possessed by the malevolent spirit of an old wizard, Bellairs gives us a great setup. But the plot falls down a bit towards the end. Part of the problem with Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost is that the ghost in question, and the revenge in question, are really supposed to be directed at Prof. Childermass. In the previous book, the ghost was avenging a longstanding grievance that one of Childermass's ancestors had committed against him. Here, we have essentially the same revenge motivation, but instead the ghost's efforts are directed at Johnny. It doesn't quite come together. In the absence of clear motivation, we also have to contend with an antagonist who is never really there. There's a general sense of evilness, but it is vague and unsupported by the details of character and personality and motivation. And, in a trademark Bellairs move, the climax sees a resolution of the conflict without any of the characters quite knowing why, or taking a truly active part in the resolution. Now, this is still a good read. Bellairs provides some extremely scary moments and settings, (secret cave with pillars of salt and marble tombs?!) and the chapter cliffhangers are superb. It just clings too closely to the previous book to stand successfully on its own story.

  6. 4 out of 5

    An Odd1

    Jjuvenile Gothic mystery horror chiller, Johnny Dixon series is a new genre for me. I'm not a haunted house, ghost and head chewing ghoul fan. If you like a little scare, go for it. Written in 1985, set in 1952, elements are dated and politically incorrect; I like the wholesome unhealthy outlook. 13-year old Johnny's best friend is a chain-smoker white-haired cranky retired history professor, and second, peer Fergie. When a ghost from a previous book possesses our hero into a coma, his pals cros Jjuvenile Gothic mystery horror chiller, Johnny Dixon series is a new genre for me. I'm not a haunted house, ghost and head chewing ghoul fan. If you like a little scare, go for it. Written in 1985, set in 1952, elements are dated and politically incorrect; I like the wholesome unhealthy outlook. 13-year old Johnny's best friend is a chain-smoker white-haired cranky retired history professor, and second, peer Fergie. When a ghost from a previous book possesses our hero into a coma, his pals cross 3 states to a spooky mansion mausoleum crypt for rumored magic Israeli amulets, hoping their power will heal. They eat burgers, fries and pies; yum. A young boy in a 'motorcycle outfit' of leather boots and jacket with reflectors over tight jeans sounds safe but funny nowadays; I don't know if the costume was meant to be a joke or not.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Ghosts! Possession! Mysteries! A mostly-abandoned haunted estate! Vaguely religious artifacts! Occult stuff! General creepiness! I might have read this more than any other book when I was in the 10-ish-to-13-ish age bracket. It terrified me, but I loved it, and I kept going back to it. I didn't realize until recently that this book is a sequel, and I never read its prequel when I was a young reader. I know now that the overarching story does make more sense when you've read the prequel, but clea Ghosts! Possession! Mysteries! A mostly-abandoned haunted estate! Vaguely religious artifacts! Occult stuff! General creepiness! I might have read this more than any other book when I was in the 10-ish-to-13-ish age bracket. It terrified me, but I loved it, and I kept going back to it. I didn't realize until recently that this book is a sequel, and I never read its prequel when I was a young reader. I know now that the overarching story does make more sense when you've read the prequel, but clearly it is not a prerequisite for enjoying/understanding the story. Upon reading this now, I see there are some plot holes that I missed (or perhaps didn't care about) when I was younger. Still, overall, a fun one to return to.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    When Johnny Dixon becomes possessed by an angry ghost it is up to Professor Childermass and Fergie to save him! Even though a lot of the book is dated- it takes place in the early 50s- the friendship between the Professor and the two boys is at the heart of the story. So many of Bellair's books emphasize that friendship and love overcomes isolation, loneliness and even demonic possession. The bonds between the characters are solid and continue to strengthen against the backdrop of creepy mansion When Johnny Dixon becomes possessed by an angry ghost it is up to Professor Childermass and Fergie to save him! Even though a lot of the book is dated- it takes place in the early 50s- the friendship between the Professor and the two boys is at the heart of the story. So many of Bellair's books emphasize that friendship and love overcomes isolation, loneliness and even demonic possession. The bonds between the characters are solid and continue to strengthen against the backdrop of creepy mansions, ghosts and weird riddles.

  9. 4 out of 5

    D.

    This is the 4th Johnny Dixon mystery, and a direct sequel to the previous book. Unfortunately, this is one of Bellairs's lesser mysteries. It has a few decent moments, and a few creepy sections, but mostly it pales in comparison to Bellairs's best. Still, the characters are strong, and it's a nice escape. Bellairs writes in an effortless style, and doesn't feel the need to explain everything away nicely at the end of the book. I appreciate his tendency to leave things ambiguous for the reader. This is the 4th Johnny Dixon mystery, and a direct sequel to the previous book. Unfortunately, this is one of Bellairs's lesser mysteries. It has a few decent moments, and a few creepy sections, but mostly it pales in comparison to Bellairs's best. Still, the characters are strong, and it's a nice escape. Bellairs writes in an effortless style, and doesn't feel the need to explain everything away nicely at the end of the book. I appreciate his tendency to leave things ambiguous for the reader.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Liaken

    I love Bellairs' scary mysteries. I loved them as a child, too. They were just scary enough so I would make a running leap for the bed in the darkened room, but not scary enough to keep me awake. I also feel like he takes his young characters seriously. That even when the young mind is passionately irrational, it is still real. I read the copy with Edward Gorey's perfect illustrations. Really, he's the perfect choice. I love Bellairs' scary mysteries. I loved them as a child, too. They were just scary enough so I would make a running leap for the bed in the darkened room, but not scary enough to keep me awake. I also feel like he takes his young characters seriously. That even when the young mind is passionately irrational, it is still real. I read the copy with Edward Gorey's perfect illustrations. Really, he's the perfect choice.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Kucharski

    This story is a continuation of sorts from The Spell and the Sorcerer's Skull. Quite fun, here the Professor and Fergie get to pair up and help find some items to help break the evil hold over Johnny. Scary places, creepy finds, and a sense that this evil may still come back and get someone... Would help to read the story The Spell and the Sorcerer's Skull first. So if you haven't would suggest you actually just check the two out. This story is a continuation of sorts from The Spell and the Sorcerer's Skull. Quite fun, here the Professor and Fergie get to pair up and help find some items to help break the evil hold over Johnny. Scary places, creepy finds, and a sense that this evil may still come back and get someone... Would help to read the story The Spell and the Sorcerer's Skull first. So if you haven't would suggest you actually just check the two out.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    This book is about a kid, Johnny Dixon, who becomes possessed by a wizard's ghost and ends up in the hospital. Then Professor Childermass and Johnny's friend, Fergie, go to a town look for something to cure Johnny. This book was alright. Parts of it were boring and some of it didn't make sense. The middle was my favorite part because there was more action as they were looking for a cure. If you enjoy mysteries, then this would be a good book to read. This book is about a kid, Johnny Dixon, who becomes possessed by a wizard's ghost and ends up in the hospital. Then Professor Childermass and Johnny's friend, Fergie, go to a town look for something to cure Johnny. This book was alright. Parts of it were boring and some of it didn't make sense. The middle was my favorite part because there was more action as they were looking for a cure. If you enjoy mysteries, then this would be a good book to read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor

    these were absolutely my favorite books as a kid. and i distinctly remember this one scaring the shit out of me the most! i almost hesitate to re-read them, just to retain the fuzzy wonderful memories that i formed the first time i read them, so we'll see. and those edward gorey illustrations!! these new editions don't have them but the older ones do. so good! these were absolutely my favorite books as a kid. and i distinctly remember this one scaring the shit out of me the most! i almost hesitate to re-read them, just to retain the fuzzy wonderful memories that i formed the first time i read them, so we'll see. and those edward gorey illustrations!! these new editions don't have them but the older ones do. so good!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Heather Jackson

    Another favorite found This is the other Johnny Dixon book that has stayed with me from childhood. I still remember creeping down the stairs forever and being terrified of what might be below. In fact, this book might be why my fear of heights includes some stairs! Staying power like that is definitely worth 5 stars!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Summer

    In the sixth grade, I did a report on John Bellairs and as a visual aid, made a three-foot tall statue of the monster in this book out of a black robe, a large amount of green modeling clay, and a small plastic chair, and that's all you need to know about this particular story. In the sixth grade, I did a report on John Bellairs and as a visual aid, made a three-foot tall statue of the monster in this book out of a black robe, a large amount of green modeling clay, and a small plastic chair, and that's all you need to know about this particular story.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I read this in middle school as a part of a series of the same characters. I remember really liking them. They were intense and scary for an innocent 10 year old.I am going to read some of this series again to see if they might be something my 10 year old will like.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sem

    I'm afraid that this one stretched my suspension of disbelief to breaking point. The supernatural elements had great potential but, in the end, Bellairs didn't make much of them. Even worse, Childermass and Fergie were too dumb to live. I'm afraid that this one stretched my suspension of disbelief to breaking point. The supernatural elements had great potential but, in the end, Bellairs didn't make much of them. Even worse, Childermass and Fergie were too dumb to live.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Tentacle monsters that suck skulls off wandering collie dogs! Whiny Johnny in the hosptial! Fergie and the Professor solving problems with clever wordplay! Salt cave! Ghosts! By far the most frightening Dixon book yet.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marjanne

    This is the fourth Johnny Dixion story. As always a fun, quick read. Nothing spectacular, but it was fun.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Freyja Quinn

    Terrific book but I preferred Curse of The Blue Figurine.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jan Yip

    childhood favorite....I Loved all John Bellairs' books! childhood favorite....I Loved all John Bellairs' books!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Arthur

    Johnny is down sick in the hospital as result by a ghost's revenge but Childermass and Fergie come to the rescue in search of the Urim and the Thummim. Johnny is down sick in the hospital as result by a ghost's revenge but Childermass and Fergie come to the rescue in search of the Urim and the Thummim.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    Rereading these as an adult and John Bellairs is just as good as I remembered.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    These are getting more and more silly and outlandish, but I'm gonna power thru. These are getting more and more silly and outlandish, but I'm gonna power thru.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    John Bellairs was my absolute FAVORITE author as a kid, especially when paired with Edward Gorey illustrations. This was the first Bellairs read aloud to Jonas and we both enjoyed it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    David

    Far from the best of Bellairs, but plenty of Professor Childermass and a couple of spooky scenes.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Abbie

    Rereading these as an adult and John Bellairs is just as good as I remembered.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mark Buxton

    My name is Fergie, and Professor Childermass shared a strange story about Johnny's grandfather. He apparently angered a man named Warren Windrow when he wouldn't allow his baseball team to use Windrow's pitching robot. The weird thing was the robot looked human, but nobody could figure out how Windrow did it. Now, fifty years later, a pro baseball player is offering $10,000 to anyone who can strike him out, and the professor has an idea the old robot might be able to do it. However, things are g My name is Fergie, and Professor Childermass shared a strange story about Johnny's grandfather. He apparently angered a man named Warren Windrow when he wouldn't allow his baseball team to use Windrow's pitching robot. The weird thing was the robot looked human, but nobody could figure out how Windrow did it. Now, fifty years later, a pro baseball player is offering $10,000 to anyone who can strike him out, and the professor has an idea the old robot might be able to do it. However, things are getting spookier as we gather more clues about the robot, and it seems the eyes have something to do with the its animation. Then, we discovered a mysterious, 50-year old pawn ticket for a walking cane with a sword hidden inside. What could this clue have to do with the robot? And Johnny feels like someone's been watching him, but why would anyone do that? As with the other books in the series, this one should be read independently from the previous three. The characters don't recall any of their past experiences in dealing with demons and spirits, although in this book they quickly accept the possibility of magic. Johnny has always been the victim in the books, and that problem continues. The root of the conflict this time stems from revenge, not the deep dark evil found in previous plots. While I've mostly enjoyed the series so far, I must admit the predictable events and format have became a little monotonous. A book begins with a strange story, Johnny gets into trouble, the professor comes to the rescue. You can easily enjoy the books individually, but at some point you'll probably become a bit bored. Consequently, if you haven't read any of the other Johnny Dixon books, go ahead and try this one. You'll like it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    George Billions

    I first read all the John Bellairs books decades ago, so I don't always remember the details and the storylines all jumble together. I usually do have at least one vivid memory of each, though: the scene illustrated by Edward Gorey on the cover of each '90s edition. I picked up an old copy of this one and instantly remembered the wizard's death mask sliding toward Johnny as he took a late-night stroll on a chilly night. Like those Gorey illustrations, cooler weather is somewhat vital to my appre I first read all the John Bellairs books decades ago, so I don't always remember the details and the storylines all jumble together. I usually do have at least one vivid memory of each, though: the scene illustrated by Edward Gorey on the cover of each '90s edition. I picked up an old copy of this one and instantly remembered the wizard's death mask sliding toward Johnny as he took a late-night stroll on a chilly night. Like those Gorey illustrations, cooler weather is somewhat vital to my appreciation of Bellairs. I usually get the urge to pick one up every few years as the temperature begins to drop. I didn't remember anything else besides that death mask scene from the cover, so I spent a couple days finding out. Bellairs always had this heavy creepiness I didn't find in other books as a kid, especially when combined with the Gorey covers and frontispiece. (Other illustrators totally throw off the feel, no matter if we're talking about the same characters or even new editions of the very the same books.) In the first chapter, the poor kid is dreaming about getting hung on the gallows. By the second, he's possessed by an evil wizard and looks like an angry dead guy. Since Johnny's stuck in the hospital for much of the book, the adventure falls on his buddy, Fergie. The professor, a chain-smoking old man, convinces this prepubescent boy's parents to let the two of them go on a nice vacation together out of town, but really they're planning on doing some B&E and a little graverobbing. It's for a good cause, trust me, and a setup for a spooky adventure. I don't really get nostalgic about any of the other authors I loved in middle school, but Bellairs always does it for me.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cliff

    This book seems somewhat notable as it seems to herald a shift in Bellairs' writing style. I was actually a bit disappointed in this one from a plot perspective. This is a sequel of sorts to The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull in that the antagonist is out for revenge as a result of the defeat from that book. While this seems appropriate, the actual clues and logic needed to unravel this scheme are extremely tenuous. The catalyzing event from book 3 was Professor Childermass' touch: as a blood relat This book seems somewhat notable as it seems to herald a shift in Bellairs' writing style. I was actually a bit disappointed in this one from a plot perspective. This is a sequel of sorts to The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull in that the antagonist is out for revenge as a result of the defeat from that book. While this seems appropriate, the actual clues and logic needed to unravel this scheme are extremely tenuous. The catalyzing event from book 3 was Professor Childermass' touch: as a blood relative of the earlier combatants, this made sense. In this episode, however, it is hinted that their nemesis is still at large, but instead it was his father's spirit who has decided to claim vengeance for foiling the plot. Then the entire story pivots around the father's spirit and a possible means of defeating it. This poses several problems because we learn the spirit is guarding that distant estate (so, it's unclear how he came to Duston Heights to exact his vengeance) and it's not clear how he knew of Johnny's involvement in that earlier defeat. At some point, the entire logic behind this plot and its cast of characters seems to be tossed in favor of telling an exciting and creepy treasure hunt. Even the villain seems to belie any consistent labeling. But despite the lapse in reason, I do think Bellairs' really nailed the storytelling aspect. The visits to the Estate are really quite action packed in comparison to his other books.

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