Since I'm a librarian, I frequently bring home books from the library for my kids, books that they most certainly did not request. (Of course, I also bring home their requests.) The ones I bring home unrequested are usually books I remember from my own childhood. Sometimes my choices pan out big time (the Little House series, the Mushroom Planet series). Sometimes, not so much (I cannot get my kids to read The Great Gilly Hopkins no matter how I try).
Recently I brought home The House with a Clock in Its Walls, a book I remembered only very vaguely from my own childhood. The paperback edition I got is billed as "A John Bellairs mystery featuring Lewis Barnavelt." What I remembered: it is spooky and distinctive. What I learned, reading it to my daughter at bedtime: it is definitely both of those things, with illustrations by Edward Gorey (love!) and a gothic spirit you don't usually see in children's books. This is no Goosebumps, with gross-outs (not that I'm against those). It is truly scary, and the magic in it seems very real.
At the same time, it has a heartwarming goofiness to it that made me want to hug the author. The main character, Lewis, is a chubby crybaby of a kid who, guess what, turns out to have enough inner courage to save the world. Oh, and he's an orphan, too, like a certain mega-popular wizard you may know. He writes his own spell to solve the mystery of the clock, and his made-up magic is as goofy, loving, and lovable as the main characters of the story.
I don't remember reading other books by Bellairs as a kid, but my daughter has requested ALL the Lewis Barnavelt books, so I guess we can call that a success.