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The Secret of the Underground Room (Johnny Dixon, #8)
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The Secret of the Underground Room (Johnny Dixon #8)

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  425 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Professor Childermass is stunned when Father Higgins claims that a ghost is trying to contact him. Then the priest disappears. When the professor and Johnny catch up to him, they make a terrifying discovery -- Father Higgins is possessed by Masterman, the spirit of a long-dead knight determined to role the world. And it looks as if Masterman is going to get his way.
Paperback, 144 pages
Published October 1st 1992 by Puffin (first published 1990)
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Ea Solinas
Apr 29, 2015 Ea Solinas rated it really liked it
Gruff and lovable Father Higgins is one of the better supporting characters in John Bellairs' many books.

And in "The Secret of the Underground Room," the evil-battling priest slips into the spotlight in an intriguing ghost story. Though not Bellairs' best, it's a chilling and fast-paced thriller for the pre-Stephen King set -- sleepwalking, undead pirates, and a situation that Johnny and Professor Childermass can put right.

Johnny Dixon is depressed when his friend Father Higgins is transferred t
...more
Hilary
Apr 26, 2009 Hilary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I used to love the John Bellairs books as a child and I read them all voraciously. It's sad to find out now that he's actually a REALLY bad and formulaic writer. From the mysterious long-lost brother (who happens to know magic and be fabulously wealthy), to the deus ex machina of the preist at the end, there is only one word to describe this book: Ouch. Truly and seriously ouch.
Derek
Apr 21, 2016 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second-to-the-last of Bellairs's books is a strong entry in the series. While not may favorite, it certainly shows that Bellairs still knew how to create a compelling story. In this one, Johnny Dixon, his best friend Fergie, and Professor Childermass are called upon to help Father Higgins discover what's causing strange disturbances in Higgin's new church. As usually happens, Johnny, Fergie, and The Professor find themselves caught up in all sort of creepy happenings, and they have to preven ...more
Arthur
Nov 05, 2014 Arthur rated it really liked it
I found this great series when The Curse of the Blue Figurine,and The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt were reprinted by Puffin,and through a book club.
Unfortunately Bellairs died, fortunately the series is co-authored to its finish with Brad Strickland.
Themes run from monsters to superstitious magic. To my surprise religious beliefs play a strong part too. Woven with zeal of mystery. Add adventure. In this latest installment, the last solely by Bellairs, Father Higgins disappears. Rod Childerma
...more
Brian Rogers
Jan 10, 2016 Brian Rogers rated it did not like it
In my "lets read children's lit I should have read" quest I picked up a few John Bellairs books from the library book sale. He had come highly recommended, and the House With a Clock in its Walls was pretty good. This, on the converse, was an interminable slog of poor pacing, plot advancement via a succession of un-grounded hypothesis, pure supposition and deus ex machina topped off with a cherry of anticlimax. It was only its short length and sheer stubborness on my part that I didn't abandon i ...more
D.M. Dutcher
Not one of his best.

Johnny and his friend Professor Childermass find that their priest friend is suffering from what looks to be a ghost. That ghost has malevolent plans for him, and soon the two of them are racing to England to prevent the resurrection of an unholy evil. Unfortunately the plot is unsatisfying, and the book feels rushed; events just happen instead of being foreshadowed, and plot elements come out of nowhere. It's still an enjoyable book, and one of the few series to treat Catho
...more
Laurel
Jan 02, 2015 Laurel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yup, starting my year by rereading Bellairs. It struck me how much these books are basically H.P. Lovecraft-meets-Shirley Jackson for strange fussy children — the obsession with geographical detail! The vague but precise period setting! The accepted presence, slightly surprising but ultimately matter-of-fact, of unearthly forces! Among the best of New England gothic. I don't know why these haven't been reissued yet in a deluxe box set with all the deluxe Edward Gorey illustrations, because I wou ...more
Poleth Mercado
Nov 13, 2014 Poleth Mercado rated it really liked it
I think the author did an amazing job creating suspense and picturing the characters in your head. I thought this book is really easy,scary good,and adventurous.It takes you to an adventure with this professor and two kids trying to get the masterman that is possessing the father. I recommend this book to people who like horror stories. Also, to people who like to read cliff hangers after each chapter because you want to read more. After each chapter it leaves to a," OMG...I've got to read the n ...more
Andrija
Mar 17, 2013 Andrija rated it liked it
John Bellairs books (especially the editions with covers and front pieces by Edward Gorey) fed my love of mystery and horror as a child. I tried reading 'normal' books like "The Pitcher with the Glass Arm" and other sports related fiction, it was an edition of The Mummy, The Will and the Crypt which captured me. I devoured every book Bellairs published in our local library. To this day, I hunt used bookstores for the Edward Gorey editions of those books, keeping them in a special shelf in my hou ...more
Chris
Jan 02, 2015 Chris rated it it was ok
Despite his reputation, I'm just not sold on Bellairs. The characterizations are flat and Johnny Dixon himself isn't much of a proactive hero -- things mainly happen to him, not the other way around. Too many coincidences to swallow in this one, and it really doesn't get interesting until the final stretch.
Dustin Brown
So I'd forgotten about this 'series' (they're all standalones, with the same handful of characters) that I read as a kid. Well, 11 year old anyway. What with the current scandals, a story about a 13 year old whose best friends are a 70-something professor and a catholic priest of unspecified age might be seen as creepy, in pratice they aren't. Not in this book, in any case. This was not one of Bellairs' finest (but is was the last) but it was a good re-introduction. I'm looking forward, now, to ...more
Daniel
Bellairs' penultimate gothic horror for children is quite bittersweet. On the one hand it's nice to see the characters in a new adventure that features a trip to England full of interesting historical details. But on the other, the overall plot seems a jumbled mess that is never quite 'believably' made cohesive. Events happen quick and the ultimate conclusion(s) both end in lackluster fashions. Despite its flaws I'll take it over one less Bellairs book, and there are a few moments of spine-tingl ...more
Chuck
Jan 30, 2016 Chuck rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: terror
Not one of his classics.
Casey
Nov 29, 2011 Casey rated it really liked it
I stumbled upon a whole shelf of Bellairs' books at a school library. The Edward Gorey covers grabbed me right away. I love Masterpiece Mystery and have a Gorey calendar with postcards that I occasionally send when I'm feeling gothic. This book was really cool. It featured possession, England, a Catholic priest, thought dead brothers and a 50s setting that was so much fun to inhabit for a while. I can't believe that I never knew about Gorey until now. I would have loved him when I was a kid.
Justin  K. Rivers
Jun 21, 2010 Justin K. Rivers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last Prof. Childermass/Johnny Dixon story that Bellairs wrote before he died, it is also one of the shortest. But Bellairs makes every moment count, with some very high and personal stakes involved in the fate of Father Higgins, and a strange, atmospheric trip to a ruined castle in England. Again, Bellairs weakens his story by some unimpressive coincidences, and the resolution did not quite seem earned. But the concept and the chill-factor are Bellairs at his best.
Marie
Not one of my favorites (of Bellairs) but still a fun read. Slow start, and the young protagonists Johnny and Fergie end up simply being there for the action, rather than taking much part in the actual culmination (though they get themselves there int he first place). The suspense, though is as chilling as any of Bellairs' books. And of course, they're just as good for adults as for kids.
Miranda W. 8 Rdg
Apr 22, 2013 Miranda W. 8 Rdg rated it really liked it
The Secret of the Underground Room was an amazing book written by John Bellairs. He used mystery of ghosts to tell the story and let the readers know that this book is extremely scary. It was an easy book and I recommend this book to people to love to read about possession. This book should become a Newberry award winner.
Marjanne
Jan 02, 2008 Marjanne rated it liked it
A fun Johnny Dixon book, and (of course) a very quick read. The story was interesting. However, Professor Childermas saves and earns a lot more than you would think from the earlier books and (unfortunately) and other character just shows up out of the blue. It is a little unbelievable. Anyhow a fun story.
Lisa Kucharski
Oct 10, 2012 Lisa Kucharski rated it really liked it
Nice scary story from Bellairs taking Johnny and his friend all the way to England! A nice event happens for Prof Childermass... he finds someone who was missing.

I like the fact that they get to save Father Higgins, since it was Father Higgins that has saved both Johnny and the Professor once.
Kris
In spite of a couple of out-of-the-blue deus ex machina moments the book was one of the better. The suspense was gripping and the pacing much improved over the meandering pace of the early book. The action was smooth and the sense of menace very well done.
Laura
Aug 24, 2008 Laura rated it liked it
just resurrected an old favorite from childhood. not as good now as it was before, but still a good, light read. cant wait to pick up the rest of the johnny dixon/professor childermass series!
Margot Note
It's a kid's book, but I love Bellairs' spookiness and the Edward Gorey illustrations.
Jan Yip
Nov 01, 2011 Jan Yip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
childhood favorite....I Loved all John Bellairs' books!
Amanda Langdon
Great Suspense/Thriller for Young Readers
Ellen Seltz
Ellen Seltz rated it really liked it
May 27, 2016
Cheryl
Cheryl marked it as to-read
May 24, 2016
Shadowcthuhlu
Shadowcthuhlu marked it as to-read
May 17, 2016
Lou Last
Lou Last rated it really liked it
May 17, 2016
Patrick Cooley
Patrick Cooley marked it as to-read
May 10, 2016
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John Bellairs (1938–1991) was an American novelist working primarily in the Gothic genre. He is best-known for the children's classic The House with a Clock in its Walls 1973) and for the pathbreaking fantasy novel The Face in the Frost (1969). Bellairs held a bachelor's degree from Notre Dame University and a master's in English from the University of Chicago. He combined writing and teaching f ...more
More about John Bellairs...

Other Books in the Series

Johnny Dixon (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • The Curse of the Blue Figurine (Johnny Dixon, #1)
  • The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt (Johnny Dixon, #2)
  • The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull (Johnny Dixon, #3)
  • The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost (Johnny Dixon, #4)
  • The Eyes of the Killer Robot
  • The Trolley to Yesterday
  • Chessmen of Doom
  • The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie
  • The Hand of the Necromancer (Johnny Dixon, #10)
  • The Bell, the Book, and the Spellbinder (Johnny Dixon, #11)

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