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The Curse of the Blue Figurine (Johnny Dixon, #1)
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The Curse of the Blue Figurine

(Johnny Dixon #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,341 ratings  ·  134 reviews
Johnny Dixon doesn't believe that the ghost of mad Father Baart haunts the town church. But then he takes an old scroll and a seemingly harmless figurine from the church basement, accepts a magic ring from a mysterious stranger--and is plunged into a terrifying adventure that may cost him his life.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published August 3rd 2004 by Puffin (first published 1983)
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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,341 ratings  ·  134 reviews

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mark monday
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inbetweenworld
the place: a small town. the time: America during the Korean war. the hero: little Johnny Dixon, bookish and fascinated by history, a fussy boy and a lonely one - his mother having recently died and his father off to war, leaving him in the care of his grandparents. Johnny is thoughtful and curious, which leads to the problem: after he steals a quaint blue figurine from a church basement, a dark spectre from the past sets his sights on the lad, seeking to return to life through him. Bellairs tel ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Nutty people don't rat on you. Nice, friendly, ordinary next-door neighbor types--they would rat on you and think nothing of it.”
John Bellairs ~~ The Curse of the Blue Figurine


The plot is simple enough, a lonely boy gets caught up in an epic magical adventure, involving a magical ring, a cursed statue, and a ghostly body thief. It's great stuff ~~ and terrifying at times. I couldn't put this down and devoured it. In the end, this was a fun, Victorian, Gothic adventure. I only wish I had gotten
I can't believe many of these John Bellairs's books are going out of print. They are some great middle grade mystery, gothic and horror all rolled into one story. I read this for the first time and I enjoyed this little book set up in New England. Johnny find this little blue Egyptian figurine in the basement of a church one day and it starts all kinds of trouble. His cranky neighbor, professor Childermass helps him by being a friend. The end is rather thrilling. This is a quick read for middle ...more
Mar 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: younger, fantasy
"Nutty people don't rat on you. Nice, friendly, ordinary next-door neighbor types--they would rat on you and think nothing of it."
Greg Kerestan
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Of all the authors who had a major impact on my psyche growing up, John Bellairs (and his frequent illustrator Edward Gorey) cannot be overstressed. His mix of children's/YA and Edwardian "uncanny horror" sounds like it should not work- and maybe to some it does not work- but it blew my mind as a kid, and still holds up on revisiting decades later. Bellairs was rarely more open in his use of M. R. James or E. F. Benson iconography than here, with Father Baart and his ornately-carved altarpiece s ...more
Sep 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled on this old edition (notice I didn't select the non-Gorey-illustrated edition- for shame publishers! for shame! Gorey's illustrations were as much a part of the experience as Bellairs words) in the Goodwill last season. An unfortunate head cold left me longing for simpler reading fare and Bellairs lived up to my middle school memories. A solid mystery with real characters. You better beat Summer to the old editions wherever you may find them before she snatches up every last Gorey-ill ...more
Richard Cardenas
One of my favorite books by John Bellairs!
Sep 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved every ingenious intricacy of "The House With A Clock In Its Walls", wondering why I didn't know John Bellairs as a child. Johnny Dixon's series depicts 1951 instead of 1983 but books by John, who died in 1991, are special. I hope the ones continued for him are well done. "The Curse Of The Blue Figurine" did not approach the former's mysteriousness and ostentatious wonderment. A professor friend provides eccentricity and Grampa, joviality. Johnny solely lost a Mom and has a Dad in the mil ...more
Anne Libera
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bellairs is scary and yet comforting. But genuinely scary. I enjoyed these books when I was young and find them still exactly the same.
Kelly Sedinger
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
John Bellairs is one of the authors I read as a kid who shaped me most today, and this is one of his most effective stories. It introduces us to young Johnny Dixon, an awkward and smart kid, and his new best friend, the eccentric and kindly (and foul-tempered) Professor Roderick Childermass, who become embroiled in supernatural shenanigans when Johnny is snooping around the local church basement and finds magical objects belonging to the evil ghost of the church's former priest.

Bellairs's writin
Cupof Tea
I was so happy to find this first book in the Johnny Dixon series at the book sale a few weeks ago. My local library has never had this book and so I have only heard about the story from his later books.

This is just a creepy ghost possession book on the surface, but Johnny and the Professor are such rich characters and we get to see the beginning of their very strange friendship developed, including the discovery that the Professor has a "fuss closet" in his house to help let off steam, and that
Feb 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book scared the heck out of me when I read it at age six or seven (yes, that was too young), but I went on to become a great fan of Bellairs at more like age ten or eleven, and I've never really stopped. They're quite well-written, full of actual historical fact, and full of funny and quirky characters. They are absolutely terrifying to the very young, and a few of them still make me a little uneasy if I read them at night, but then I am not a horror fan at all.
Best Bellairs title, IMHO. Scared the pants off me and still does. A particularly deft handling of how a child experiences guilt.
I loved it!!! It was a great short and easy read.
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
John Bellairs' current reputation rests pretty squarely on his first YA book, THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN IT'S WALLS. It's too bad, really, because many of his later books are much more satisfying. In fact, his books would be GREAT source material for a TV series or movie series. Now that I think about it, all his books would be an excellent series to adapt into graphic novels, considering the mood and gloom that permeates his novels.

These books were my absolute favorites when I was a kid and I've recently managed to buy all the original Johnny Dixon series in their hardback editions with the Edward Gorey artwork. I'm planning on rereading all 9 this year in order (though I don't think there's a greater timeline). I won't be rating them because they were all 5 star books when I was 11.

What I love about Bellairs: he doesn't treat his reader like an idiot. He names chess strategies and antiques and ancient Egyptian curses in
Jun 11, 2018 rated it liked it

"The professor was amazed. He acted as if Johnny had just told him that he was the pope, or the sultan of Zanzibar. "Good heavens!" he exclaimed. "You can read, and you like to read! Please excuse my amazement, but I have just come from visiting my sister's daughter, who lives up in New Hampshire. She has two children about your age, but they couldn't read their way through a book of cigarette papers. Which is scarcely odd, because their parents don't read anything except the phone book a
Tara Lynn
Dec 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I think I've saved my Bellairs obsession till last because I used to get a new book in the series every Christmas. I've mentioned in an earlier review that Johnny Dixon's my favorite character in the series, and I particularly love his story arc. Professor Childermass, his friend and eccentric neighbor, is one of my favorite characters throughout ALL of the novels, and his "fuss closet" idea was one I used myself! There's also a higher level of spiritual undertone in this series than there is in ...more
Amy Gourley
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book a lot better than I thought I would. I had read A House with Clock on its Walls a few years ago but didn't like it much. But I enjoyed this one and even stayed up late to finish it. It's the first book in the Johnny Dixon series. I'm not rushing out to get the other books but I will pick one up if I find it at a garage sale and I do think I have a few other Johnny Dixons on my tbr.
Sheryl Sato
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Having read this book a few times as a youth, I find it just as exciting and creepy now. The writing is great and it is always interesting to note the struggles between good and evil, having good overcome due to the help of an unusual friendship.
Keegan Fink
This book was pure comfort food for the imagination. A delightful gothic romp through a days-gone-by childhood. Curl up in front a fire, grab a cup of good tea, and pick out a comfy wingback chair (where available).
Alicia Croy
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it

I always look for new books to stretch my imagination just a bit farther this book hit the spot. Thank you for your adventure looking forward to the second one
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful, spooky, Gothic tale for young readers, probably ages nine and older.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read a lot of the John Bellairs books when I was a kid. I was partial to the Johnny Dixon mysteries. I loved the characters--Johnny, Fergie, Professor Childermass. I suppose I was probably a little more like Johnny--meek and bookish--than I cared to admit. And in terms of creepiness, I would honestly rank some of Bellairs' best efforts up there with Stephen King. Thirty years later, I still get chills thinking of one particular sequence where some Bellairs characters are racing in a car to get ...more
Jun 15, 2018 rated it liked it
"This story is completely different from The House With a Clock in Its Walls," I told myself as I began reading The Curse of the Blue Figurine, in an attempt to keep myself from comparing the two books. "This is not Lewis Barnavelt." And unfortunately, it wasn't. Having read and fallen in love with The House... earlier this year, it took me a bit to warm up to a new cast of John Bellairs characters. In particular, I found Johnny Dixon to be a more generic protagonist than Lewis Barnavelt, and th ...more
Carrie Gil
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good story

I chose this rating because , having just finished The House with A Clock In Its Walls, this book felt a little limp.and weak by comparison. The characters felt nice and cozy, but not nearly as strong as Louis and his uncle. I wasn't drawn in to this book as much as I wanted to be and struggled to finish it. It did have some elements of spooky mystery, but I couldn't help thinking that Johnny was rather lukewarm in light of his adventures. Instead of being strong in face of adve
Christine McCann
Oct 14, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this for the PopSugar reading challenge prompt "A book you loved as a child." I actually don't have specific recollections of this book, but I knew that I greatly enjoyed reading Bellairs as a kid, and he was instrumental in developing my enduring love of weird fiction and horror.

Unfortunately this didn't keep its magic for me. It had its moments, but felt a little off-key. I was also struck by how much Catholicism forms the backdrop - probably as a Catholic child, I didn't even notice! B
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A coworker recommend this book to me, as an amazing work of children's horror. This definitely fills that bill!

The style feels like a combination of Edward Eager and a younger focused H.P Lovecraft combined. It has some witty and funny moments, but also moments that are legitimately frightening (on a kid level).

It is filled with perfect illustrations that fit the story, and help contextualize some of the images being described.

Overall, I would recommend this to anyone looking for a work of chi
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ghost story genre isn't generally my scene, and this wasn't an exception for me. I felt like the build up was too slow, and I didn't always care for the writing style. It was too simplistic and awkward in places. Having said all that: the reason I don't like ghost stories is because they tend to terrify me, and when I got to the creepy parts, I was creeped out, so the writing was effective in its purpose. And I loved Professor Childermass!
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is SUPER creepy; not my jam. That said, it was superbly written, with a plot constantly shifting in unexpected ways. This is one of the first juvenile fiction books I've read where an adult or two truly believes in and tries to help the kid. That narrative was a bit redemptive to my heart. I'm not sorry I read it; but I probably won't read it again.
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What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Children's novel about a ring. [s] 6 112 May 14, 2018 08:00AM  

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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

Other books in the series

Johnny Dixon (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • 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 Secret of the Underground Room (Johnny Dixon, #8)
  • 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)
“To fuss is human; to rant, divine!” 8 likes
“The professor believed in thought. He was always telling his students that you could get to the unknown by using the known. If you just put the facts that you knew together in the proper way, you might get some truly amazing results.” 2 likes
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