The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn by John Bellairs

The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn by John BellairsThe Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn (Anthony Monday Mysteries #1) by John Bellairs
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (1978), Hardcover, 180pg
Source: Contest Win
Genres: Fiction, Mystery

Did Alpheus Winterborn, the eccentric town millionaire, really hide a treasure in the Hoosac Public Library before he died? Or was he just playing a practical joke? Anthony is sure there must be a treasure - but the clues the old man left are mysterious. Little does Anthony know that Winterborn's evil nephew is letting Anthony find the treasure - only to snatch it away!

I won this book from Jenny at Jenny’s Books and it came in the mail last week! John Bellairs is one of my favorite authors– I love the Lewis Barnavelt series– and Brad Strickland, who became his ghostwriter after Mr. Bellairs died, isn’t so bad either. Unfortunately The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn wasn’t as good as some of his other books. It’s not bad, but it’s just a little bit too 1970’s to be completely enjoyable.

Such an awesome premise: treasure-hunting! And in a library! And yet it’s really not anything special. It seemed really dated; not so much because Mr. Bellairs had his characters wearing bellbottoms or anything, but more because it just felt like it was written in the 1970’s. The writing seems very typical of book from that time period, plus the slang was terribly distracting. “Gee” and “golly” everywhere. (Did anyone actually say that in the 1970’s? Or in any time period?)

However, by the time the villain shows up and things start moving forward, it does get a bit more interesting and I was able to look past the language. One of the scenes near the end was very exciting, actually, and the ending itself was a nice fit.

Actually, my favorite thing about the book was the illustrations by Judith Gwyn Brown sprinkled throughout. She did the cover on my edition, too, and it’s utterly beautiful. (Obviously mine’s a different cover than the one I used in this post.) Some more info about Ms. Brown.

I wouldn’t recommend reading this if you’ve never read John Bellairs before– at least not at first– but I suppose if you’re a Bellairs fan it’s not such a bad book to check out. And even though I didn’t particularly like it, I am super happy to have it in my collection.

Apparently this is the first book of a series, and the rest of the series has supernatural elements! So the next book might turn out to be better than this one. Hm. I’ll check it out and let you know!

Read: February 2009

0 thoughts on “The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn by John Bellairs”

  1. I too am a huge Bellairs fan, and I really enjoyed this book. I understand the premise of your review, but respectfully disagree. I found the language more quaint than distracting and the plot intriguing and engaging. In fact, I read this book as a kid (in the 80’s) and have read it to my son with great success these days. I think of this book as a charming classic.

    I just wanted to put in my two cents worth.

    -Happy Reading !

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