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The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull (Johnny Dixon, #3)
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The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull (Johnny Dixon #3)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,036 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
When Johnny Dixon and his friend Professor Childermass discover an old heirloom clock, the terror begins. The professor suddenly vanishes, and Johnny is left to solve the mystery--alone.

Inside the clock Johnny discovers a miniature room, a room exactly like the one in which a murder took place long ago. And from the inside the little room Johnny pockets a tiny skull with m
Paperback, 176 pages
Published August 3rd 2004 by Puffin (first published June 3rd 1984)
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Richard Denney
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Re-read for #JohnBellairsMonth!!

This is one of my favorites from John's books, scary, fantastical, and thrilling as hell. If you still haven't picked up a John Bellairs book, do-it-now!!! His books are scary, thrilling, full of mystery, and will have you not wanting to put them down. :)
This was my favorite of the Johnny Dixon Series so far. I love John Bellairs clear dialogue and quirky characters. I also like the setting of New England. John explores all over the area and I want to visit some of those islands now.

Johnny and Prof. Childermass are staying at a hotel where there is a clock with a room inside it that is made by Childermass's father. A skull falls out of it and Johnny takes it home. Then Prof. Childermass disappears and no one knows what happened.

Johnny gets the
Jul 26, 2009 rated it liked it
The bar exam is causing my brain to regress to second-grade level. I used to love John Bellairs' scary books when I was a kid, and this one (discovered in a used bookstore for $2) comforted me through the unpleasantness of studying. There are many delights to be had in it, not least of which being the fact that there is a lot of smoking and drinking for a kids' book. I mean, it takes place in the 50s, but still. Love the Edward Gorey illustrations. More religious stuff than I remember from readi ...more
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicely spooky! I think I'm really getting to like the Johnny Dixon books :-)

I had a hard time deciding between 3 and 4 stars; the style seems a bit detached at times, and at the end I was still confused over some points. However, I really liked the story and the characters are good, so I went with 4 stars.
Tricia Harrild
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I like that the characters in John Bellairs' books are a bit nerdy and unpopular. They like to read and eat cookies and relax at home. I like the evil wizards that cast spells of doom and murder and the ghosts they have become. Plus there is artwork by Edward Gorey!!
D.M. Dutcher
May 15, 2012 rated it liked it
A book that could no longer be written today, sadly. Johnny Dixon is a friend of the eccentric Professor Childermass. One day when his car breaks down, the two lodge at an inn, and they discover an ornate clock made by one of the Professor's ancestors. It's reputed to be haunted, and on impulse, Johnny takes a tiny skull from it. That triggers a lot of events leading into the abduction of the Professor and an ancient mystery.

Like I said, this book could never be written today. A few reasons are:
Paula Ronkin
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pretty darn spooky for a kid's book!!
Ea Solinas
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
John Bellairs books have a certain style that you come to expect -- it's got to have lots of humor, a cheesy title that sounds like a B-movie, dark visions, weird dreams, and a shapeless supernatural evil that can destroy us all. One outstanding example would be "Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull," a genuinely creepy little horror story tinged with clever humor.

Professor Childermass's car breaks down in a small town. While he waits for it to be repaired, he and his young friend Johnny Dixon are show
Aug 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
Travel back to 1952, when an older man could befriend an adolescent boy and there wasn't anything untoward about it. Johnny Dixon and Professor Childermass are waylaid in an inn by a snowstorm when they discover a clock with an elaborate and unsettling vignette display. Soon afterwards, the professor magically vanishes and Johnny must enlist the aid of his friend Byron "Fergie" Ferguson and an Irish Catholic priest named Father Higgins to help track him down.

As with his Lewis Barnavelt trilogy,
Jan 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Another Bellairs. This one involves a mysterious clock with a miniature room in it. In the room is a miniature skull, which, if you touch it INFECTS you will EVIL! Wow! What a story! And, they go to Vinalhaven, so, you know, yay Maine.* Another fast, creepy story – this one has a good priest working to save old Professor Childermass from the evil with a piece of the true cross. Lucky that they had some around, no?

I was thinking when I was reading these books that they would make a pretty awesome
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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 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)