Brad Strickland finished this based on an outline left by John Bellairs after his death. It features a lot of classic Bellairs' charm and my personal favorite of Edward Gorey's artwork for the series - the back cover features Lewis' nightmare where headless Opera patrons surround him and Rose Rita. Strickland does a remarkable job here.
Doing research for a local history project brings Lewis and Rose Rita to the abandoned New Zebedee Opera House located above the Feed & Seed downtown. There, Lewis discovers some sheet music making up a lost opera, "The Day of Doom", hidden inside a piano and runs off with it. This is despite a ghost warning him of he who would be "King of the Dead". Rose Rita is surprisingly skeptical about the ghost, even when Lewis challenges her on the weird shit they've been through together and apart over the last couple of years.
It tuns out that the pages Lewis rescued were hidden from the sinister Henry Vanderhelm to prevent the opera from being performed. It makes up a grand spell that could enslave the dead and doom the living. Unfortunately, New Zebedee has been cut off from the outside world and the adults have already been taken in by the spell of the Opera. Without Uncle Jonathan or Mrs. Zimmerman and with the other New Zebedee magicians vanished, what can two plucky kids do?
As I said, Strickland does a good job here. He expands a little on the world of New Zebedee and attempts to explain why so much weird goings-on focus on their small Michigan town. I liked the inclusion of more witches and magicians as well. This was spooky and dosed with a little satire of high-brow culture.
Lewis & Rose Rita
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