Recap #184: Witch by Christopher Pike

The Author:

Christopher Pike is a prolific writer of teen horror-ish novels, with a few sprinkled in there for adults. He is the literary horror to RL Stine’s gore porn/B-movie-type novels. But that’s putting him a bit high up there, isn’t it? Sometimes he overwrites, sometimes his stories are just outright ridiculous. But there’s no doubt he at least tried to insert some depth into these schlock teen horror novels of the 90s.

The Blurb:

Julia is a young woman with extraordinary powers. She has the ability to heal people with her touch. She can also know things that are happening in far off places when she looks in water that has sunlight shining on it. She comes from a tradition of witches, of good witches. But before Julia’s mother died, she warned her daughter never to look in the water that had moonlight shining on it.

Unfortunately, almost by accident, Julia does so. What she sees is a vision of the future, a scene in which a young man she doesn’t know is shot in a hold-up and dies in her arms. Only later, when Julia attends a football game at school, does she meet the young man.
He is her girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

Julia immediately falls for the guy, but it is an ill-fated love. He does not belong to her and he is supposed to die. Or does he have to die? Julia doesn’t know if her vision of the future is set, or if it can be changed. She doesn’t know why the gunmen in her vision evokes such hatred in her, and why she feels she must destroy him at all costs. But using the supernatural powers at her command, and risking her own life, plus the lives of her friends, Julia will find the answers to all these questions, at a terrible cost.

The ridiculous over-wordiness of this blurb is spot on with the wordiness of the book itself. Plus it reads like a first draft blurb. Like re-reading it makes me cringe a little for its awkwardness.

The Place:

Indian Pole, Idaho, population negative six. I think it’s passed off as not a middle of nowhere type of town, but it is. People need to drive a half hour in any direction just to get anywhere worthwhile, like shopping areas or whatever. Everyone knows everyone and has grown up with everyone. Those kinds of towns, but Pike doesn’t much dwell on the place. Not really. And for someplace that doesn’t really bear any significance to the story the name of the town is sure bandied around a lot. [Wing: A half hour in any direction? That’s basically a suburb. Julia, come talk to me when you have to drive 2+ hours just to buy clothes.]

The Players:

Julia Florence – 17 and can heal the sick. She sees what’s happening in distant places and sometimes sees the future. But she doesn’t think of herself as a witch. She has long, red hair that somehow changes colors with the seasons, is 5’5”, and is slender. Her eyes are green. She’s lived in northern Idaho all her live. She loves football, and all sports for that matter. Her mom died three months prior on the last day of school. She’s been living alone ever since (because social services is rather remiss in their duties). Her mom was a powerful witch and Julia often opted to be alone to wallow in the hurt of her loss.

Amy Belle – Julia’s best friend, also about 5’5” and slender, but mousy in comparison. She’s constantly being overshadowed by Julia’s gloriousness, but never fear. There’s no resentment there because Amy worships the ground Julia walks on.

Scott Hague – Longtime friend of both Julia and Amy, secretly in love with Julia (like the rest of the world). His face is round and his skin tone is muddy and slightly orange. His friends nicknamed him the Great Pumpkin. He has blue eyes and glowed this friendly, positive glow. He’s always friendly and in a great mood but he’s also a slime who pretends to be older and picks up women at bars. And he has a receding hairline.

Jim Kovic – Amy’s new boyfriend and a fullback on the Saddleback High football team (Indian Pole’s rival). Also the subject of Julia’s premonition.

Mrs Florence – Julia’s aunt, aka The Aunt. She’a seemingly nasty woman who allegedly threatened Julia to watch her powers or she’d go after her. The woman showed no signs of grief when her sister died.

Randy Classick – Neanderthal of a football player who actually proves more useful than he appears at first glance.

Lieutenant Crawley – Butthurt cop who has it out for Julia because she ratted him and his mistress out after ignoring her warnings about a nearby fire because he didn’t want to get caught.

Frank Truckwater – Meth head and general dirt bag who shoots Scott and killed his girlfriend in a motorcycle accident.

The Story:

It opens with a callous joke of suicide and emotional and physical abuse as Amy and Scott are trying to get Julia to come to the game with them. Scott threatens to slit his wrists if Julia doesn’t come out with them and Amy’s saying he’s sharpening a knife. All over a football game. Har har.

Of course Julia’s an oblivious dude magnet that had all of Amy’s boyfriends trying to hit her up for a date while they were still dating Amy. So much so that’s it’s turned into a joke with no obvious resentment from Amy. I mean, I get it. Julia doesn’t have any control over how people feel about her, especially like that. And it’s reiterated that she’s never reciprocated or gone out with any of Amy’s boyfriends, so what’s Amy going to hate her for? Being pretty? But still. Once we get to boyfriend number, like, five, I would start to get rankled, personally.

Walking outside connects Julia to her mom so she goes for a walk before she meets up with Amy and Scott. She and her mom used to go herb hunting and her mom would make herbal teas to give her patients at her nursing job.

Her mom had the same healing abilities by touching people, but she would take on small amounts of the ailment she was healing. Her mom ended up dying from a cerebral hemorrhage after she tried to heal a girl from a motorcycle accident, who also ended up dying. Her mom believed that when it’s someone’s time to go they’ll go and no amount of healing will work. Julia doesn’t understand why her mom tried to save the girl when the doctors all said it was hopeless. [Wing: I really like this bit of worldbuilding around taking on a piece of the disease. It adds a real threat to a power that could otherwise seem like a deus ex machina.]

Helpers is what people like she and her mom are called and it goes back generations. It follows certain bloodlines and it’s only passed on to women. It doesn’t follow unbroken from one generation to the next and can disappear for centuries and reappear as the need arises. The only other Helpers Julia knows are friends of her aunt, who are severe and she and her mom always stayed away from them. Funnily enough the term Helpers pretty much dies at the beginning of the book.

The first time Julia had visions was when she was ten and out with her mom. She thought it was a dream at first. She didn’t know how it actually worked and her mom gave her two rules when she found out: don’t spy on people and don’t look into the pond when the moonlight is shining on it.

Julia often astral projected (my term, this is actually never used in the story, ever) to a bunch of places and got “stuck” witnessing some Chinese college students get executed. Her mom mentioned that she needs to learn how to use her power because there’s responsibility that comes with it. Her seeing is bound to the world/atmosphere, meaning Julia can’t go beyond and it makes her sad that she can’t see her mom. And it’s only sight in her visions. Never any sound or any other senses.

Julia slips into a vision and sees Scott, who is some wild and crazy guy because he eats two burgers at once and Amy points this fact out. He and Julia have known each other since they were five and Scott’s growing feelings for her. Julia doesn’t think the relationship would last. She’s not attracted to him. She doesn’t think he’s attractive in a classical way, but he is eye-catching.

Amy always seems to be able to sense when Julia is watching her and she shows this by stopping what she’s doing and staring off into space. Julia’s never been able to talk to her about this, though, because she doesn’t want to reveal she’s a witch. Because she’s not, but okay.

Sometimes Julia would get lost in viewing and time would slip by. She time warps while at the pond and wakes up when it’s dark, facing the wrong direction. There’s a woman who looks just like her on the other side of the pond and they are tethered together by a silver cord.

Julia’s eyes stray to the pond reflecting moonlight despite the memory of her mom saying not to look at it and she sees a robbery involving her. This has never happened before, where she sees herself in her viewing. She thinks she can’t be in two places at once despite the out of body experience she’s currently having. She forces herself to look away but gets a look at the guy with the gun: ugly, cold black eyes, thin, greasy mustache, and hatred radiated from him.

She’s finally able to pull away and wake up as herself, but when she looks in the pond she sees the image of a dour woman that slowly morphs into her aunt who is shaking her head at Julia. She brushes it away, promising never to do that again, and hopes her friend are still waiting for her because she needs them at the moment.

We get a flashback reminiscing about when Amy met Julia as she was wandering around in the woods. This goes on way too long as Amy masturbates to the thought of Julia’s perfection. Practically. It’s a bit much.

Amy sees herself as being far plainer than Julia with boring blonde hair and boring blue eyes but at least she has a killer figure and she’s funny. Translate to big, bouncy titties when she laughs. But at least she doesn’t have low self-esteem despite the fact that she pales in comparison to Julia’s awesomeness.

When Amy’s introducing Jim to Julia she goes off on an internal tangent about how great Julia and her mom were and how Amy was there when Julia’s mom died. Amy also saved Julia and Scott from a freezing river that bears absolutely no relevance to anything until the very end, and even then it’s a stretch.

At Jim and Julia’s introduction they just stare at each other for an awkwardly long time that started to actually make people uncomfortable. But thank Scott to break the tension with his off-color date rape joke about buying some six packs and getting the girls drunk in order to take advantage of them. Great.

There’s a thin little storyline in here about the woman Scott picked up. He brought her along to the game and apparently she’s a moron who didn’t immediately recognize that Scott wasn’t even legal to vote. But once she does she smacks him with her purse and marches off. Don’t worry. She’s more relevant than as a dumbass later in the story.

Once Scott mentions alcohol Julia gets really serious and says she doesn’t want to go to any liquor store and tries to get Jim not to wear his letterman jacket. She thinks that this would stop her moon vision from playing out.

Another element of Scott’s greatness comes about when it’s revealed that he likes to film up-skirt of the cheerleaders. Seriously. Can he get any more skeevy? Gross. But apparently he’s actually a pretty good filmmaker when he’s not taking crotch shots of unsuspecting women. Lovely.

Anyway, Julia eventually realizes that Jim is the one from her vision who gets shot and she connects the dots to realize that looking in the pond with the moonlight on it will show her the future. She tries to get everyone to just come to her house because she’s been living along since her mom’s death (great work, social services), but they don’t take that offer up.

All four of them get into Scott’s car and they start driving around. Jim complains about neck pain and Amy pushes Julia to do her thing and help Jim, because she knows Julia has a healing touch. Yet Julia’s afraid of what her friend will think of her once she knows she’s a witch. Not too bright there.

Julia can’t stop thinking about how cute Jim is as she’s rubbing out his neck. Only she’s absorbing the pain herself and she ends up with a bit of a headache.

Before, when they were all trying to decide what to do with their time, Julia tried to get them to avoid liquor stores at all costs. She even got Jim to take off his jacket so she could fix his neck, thinking that would prevent what she saw in her vision from happening since he was wearing it there.

When they stop for soda at a convenience store Julia starts piecing things together. She was able to keep Jim from going in, but Scott went in instead.

Shortly after she notices that she can’t see anyone inside so she runs to the front door and sees Scott trying to find someone to ring him out when the two men from her vision come storming out. Scott takes a shot to the head and Julia has to dodge a bullet before they run away.

She calls for Amy and Jim and while Julia is mourning Scott’s death, Jim actually realizes he’s still alive, much to her disbelief. She tries to heal him with Amy’s encouragement, but when she tries she realizes if she does she’ll die, she stops.

She tried doing what she could to prevent her vision from coming true even though she had no real timeline for it, but ultimately she couldn’t. She was able to change around what happened to who, but she couldn’t prevent the event itself from happening.

Lieutenant Crawley arrives on the scene and questions everyone while they’re at the hospital. Turns out he has a history with Julia and he holds a grudge. The year before she tried to use his phone to call in a fire, but he was at his mistress’s house and didn’t want to get caught. She ratted him out and got him in trouble. To get out of it he tried to blame the fire on her, but it didn’t work. [Wing: Jesus, Crawley, you are a complete bag of dicks.]

Scott ends up in surgery for more than three hours when the doctor comes out with news that isn’t that great. There’s a lot of swelling in his brain and bleeding and damaged tissue and the doctor doesn’t think he’ll last the night.

Everyone’s allowed into Scott’s room to basically say goodbye and there Julia and Jim conspire to find the two men who did this and get revenge. Amy tries to have Julia fix him again, but Julia won’t/can’t. When she and Jim leave he barely acknowledges Amy and Amy later laments that he now wants Julia. Kind of a weird thought to have, all things considered, but at the same time it’s literally a “not another one” moment for her so I can’t say I blame her.

Julia goes a little Village of the Damned with her blank looks and monotone speaking. She’s really focused, maybe? There are also a lot of God references threaded throughout the story. Amy praying in the chapel, Julia’s mom talking about her powers coming from God. This isn’t the first Pike book with a lot of religious references (THE LAST VAMPIRE, SATI).

Turns out Julia’s guardian is her aunt who demanded she move in with her, but Julia’s managed to stall her. Not sure how, and she’ll be 18 in a few months and no one will be able to touch her then. Again, good job, social services. And who the hell is paying the bills on the house?

While in the hospital Amy reveals that she knew what Julia would do and this confused Julia. The Helpers have a strict code of secrecy and she doesn’t understand why her mom violated that by telling Amy about them when she healed her migraines.

Flashback again to Julia stumbling upon the cop and his mistress when she was trying to report the fire. Only it wasn’t an accident or coincidence. When she saw the smoke she went to where the nearest policeman was, and it was him. When she viewed the town she said it was hard to miss them and if he didn’t back off her that he would be sorry, because he’s taken to basically threatening her, claiming she’s responsible for Scott getting shot. She’s convinced she can find more dirt on him in the same way.

Jim and Julia get to her house and she leaves Jim there while she goes to view in the pond, telling him she’s going to talk to a friend that will have all the answers. How conspicuous.

When she looks into the pond at dawn she sees into the past – a vision of her mom at work and the guy with a mustache from the robbery, only without a mustache in this vision. They’re in a hospital room over a draped body and the guy is yelling at her mom and he punches her before threatening Julia, whose picture he saw on her mom’s desk. He leaves saying that Julia’s mom will pay in blood.

Then she gets a current view of the two robbers in a garage getting high and drinking, talking about their next hit and how they owed money to someone named King. Julia’s thrill at getting the information she’s looking for lurches her out of the vision but then she flashes back in to see a bunch of women in black. One looks right at her in the vision, as if she knows Julia’s there, and Julia shakes it off and rushes back to her house. She’s awesome so she can run that mile, on a trail, in six minutes. No actual training needed. She grabs Jim and they leave in Scott’s car before her aunt arrives minutes later.

Amy’s mainlining coffee in the hospital cafeteria when Julia’s aunt and her cronies come in, trying to get information out of Amy about Julia’s whereabouts. The aunt ends up hypnotizing Amy to get some information, at least about Julia’s intent, before they leave to get into Scott’s room.

Amy runs into Randy, her ex and hospital errand boy, and asks him to spy on The Aunt in Scott’s room. So he steals some scrubs and gets close enough to hear The Aunt talking about an accident. In order to get into that position, though, Randy basically had to molest a pregnant woman as he posed as an OBGYN. Even after all of this he’s able to wrangle a date out of Amy. Yes. I can see how appealing he is. How can she resist?

Amy wants him to get her information on the girl in the accident that ended up killing Mother Florence (gag, I really hate this name) and he says he can get her into the basement where records are stored since it was a more recent event and they might still have the physical files on site. Everything otherwise gets put on computer and Randy can’t even type let along hack into the system.

I love dating myself with these books. When computers were just starting to become more mainstream and people didn’t usually have them in their houses yet (book was published in 1990) so classes for typing were still a thing then. Love it. Not sure if today’s youth would even begin to understand how someone can NOT type on a keyboard, let alone use a computer proficiently.

After hours of rummaging around in the basement Amy finally finds one record for the night of the accident belonging to Frank Truckwater, presumably the same Frank Julia saw in her vision. Randy joins her in the search and they find Kary Florence’s file – the girl who died in the accident that night that upset Mother Florence so much. Same last name but no known connection. Frank messed up his knee in the accident but was able to walk away, or get handed over to the police because he was drunk when it happened.

Amy gets paged to the phone to hear it’s Jim asking about Scott and being super cryptic about what he’s doing with Julia and how they’re at a motel and she’s sleeping. Amy tries to get him to wake Julia up, but he won’t. Then he effectively breaks up with her for Julia. Great guy.

Once she gets off the phone she convinces Randy to follow The Aunt and her followers, who’ve been spying on them, to keep them from getting to Julia while Amy goes to visit the Truckwaters and the Florences.

Meanwhile Julia’s having a dream about her and Scott. They’re swimming naked in a lagoon in Tahiti when Scott dives under the water and the sun disappears, replaced by a blood red moon. The water starts boiling and it turns red. Scott starts thrashing but Julia can’t reach him so she makes her way back to shore and finds a rope to throw to him. She tries but he’s just out of reach and Scott gets dragged down into the water by a Freddy Kruger hand that then comes after her.

She wakes up screaming and Jim has to calm her. They confess their love for each other (gag) and Jim tells her he talked to Amy, who mentioned Frank and Julia’s aunt. Julia isn’t surprised by her aunt being after her and Jim starts asking questions about her abilities that she evades.

When he tells her he’s 18 she says he’s going to buy her a gun at the mall an hour away (hooray for straw purchases!) and she’s going to meet Frank at the liquor store and kill him. Jim wants to buy two guns and help her, but she doesn’t want him to. She asks him how he’s felt since the shooting and he says out of sorts and disconnected. She realizes she changed his course and she basically traded Scott for Jim when Jim should be the one dying in the hospital.

Amy stops at the Florence house first since it’s between the hospital and the Truckwaters. She gets right to the point with her questions when Mr Florence opens the door. At first he’s angry and tries to slam the door in Amy’s face, but she’s able to get to the meat of the story: Mr Florence is Julia’s dad. He cheated on Mother Florence (blech) and left just before Julia was born. Kary was Julia’s half-sister. Mr Florence hates Frank with a passion and is rooting for Julia to kill him (maybe not the best response to that news? Or the healthiest?). Before Amy leaves he asks her to tell Julia about him, that he’d like to meet her if she’d have him. Or, you know. You can do that yourself, bro?

Randy ends up tailing The Aunt and her cronies from a motel to a gas station. Thinking dumb jock thoughts the whole away, about how everything bored him, how he dumped a milkshake over a chick’s head because she deigned to tell him one was enough. Typical meathead but with a sense of loyalty.

When they all get to the gas station he pretends to be an attendant and fills their car. He convinces The Aunt to pop the hood and he ends up disabling the car before they leave. He finishes pumping, pockets their change, and leaves them behind, deciding to meet Amy at the Truckwater house.

Jim and Julia roll up to the sporting goods store and start talking guns with the retired cop running the counter. The sale had straw purchase written all over it, but he was still like okay little lady I’ll sell your boyfriend this gun and they bought a couple of pump action shotguns and made their way to the liquor store.

Jim tells Julia he loves her (retch) and she doesn’t want it to be but she can’t fight it. Although her driving hate for Frank seems stronger as they plow forward despite Jim’s attempt to get them to go somewhere else.

Amy rolls up to the Truckwater house and it’s a tumbledown POS that Frank is basically squatting in. She knocks and the door swings open and it’s an even worse mess on the inside. She finds a room with a couple of sleeping bags and a picture on the wall of a younger Frank and Kary on his bike. She realizes this is the guy who shot Scott.

She makes her way to the garage and finds Frank’s meth pipe and little black dealer book, complete with hit locations and notes. She deduces the one with the smudge next to it is where he’s headed. Maybe because it was ash from the pipe and it was all still warm? That’s the reasoning the book gave for that. I guess.

She turns around and bumps into Randy, who scares the crap out of her. He makes a joke about how he’s supposed to be at dinner with the woman from the beginning of the book (the one Scott tried to sleep with), but they get into Amy’s car and head to the liquor store.

Julia and Jim get to the liquor store twenty minutes early and wait outside with their guns. Jim asks if they should just go inside and warn the owner that he’s about to get robbed and Julia has a duh moment. But if the owner closes early and Frank rides by and sees it closed he’ll just keep riding and they’ll miss their opportunity. So they stay put.

Motorcycles roar in the distance and finally ride up. Jim and Julia watch the two go in and wait. After a few minutes they move to go in and Julia asks Jim to kiss her. He does and she then knocks him out with the butt of her gun on the back of his skull and hopes that she didn’t hit him too hard. Yeah. Because that wouldn’t turn him into a head of cauliflower or anything.

She goes in alone and sees a kid looking nervously over his shoulder down a hallway. Julia kneecaps him (with a shot gun, so she obliterates everything from the kneecap down) and he falls to the floor. She thinks the owner might be in back with Frank until she sees the guy passed out behind the counter. Then she almost gets her head blown off by sniper Frank and she ducks down, firing back.

Jim stumbles in all groggy and she tells him to get down, but he runs to the injured kid, saying he needs an ambulance. Julia’s gone full psychopath and doesn’t care. When Jim finds the unconscious owner he goes over to help him too, only the guy is coming to and is confused. He reaches for a gun and Jim sees it but can’t comprehend what’s happening in front of his face despite the owner moving like someone with a palsy. Julia screams at him to move and then dives for him, but is a second too late. Jim gets shot in the chest and presumably dies.

Julia pulls off his sock and creates a Molotov cocktail that doesn’t quite work so she shoots it to get it to explode. She and Frank exchange fire, he falls on her, his shoulder gets hit from one of her shells, but he pulls a switchblade on her in the flames and forces her to stand up. She pulls out the gun she took off the kid and shoves it under Frank’s chin and demands he drop the knife. He taunts her and she moves to pull the trigger but is interrupted by a loud noise.

Amy and Randy call dispatch about the impending robbery and end up getting patched through to Crawley, who drills Amy about Julia. She feeds him a line insinuating Julia is involved and that lit a fire under his ass. They hang up and make their way to the store.

It was a roiling ball of smoke when they arrive. Going in Amy sees the mangled kid and the owner and freaks when she sees Jim. He ends up waking up briefly and confesses his feelings about Julia. Amy brushes it off and watches him die.

She makes her way to the back and finds Julia and Frank tucked into the closet office. Julia’s slowly torturing him to death and apparently they’re all barely affected by the smoke.

Amy tells Julia about Kary and her dad and Julia forces Frank to confess what really happened with the accident. Of course he was drunk and rode into a tree.

Julia realizes killing Frank isn’t really what she’s supposed to be doing so she has Amy hold the gun on Frank while she leaves. Amy walks Frank out front and hands him off to a newly armed Randy, but before she can get anywhere cops and The Aunt & Co. swarm in. Initially Amy and Randy are handcuffed but all she says is she’s innocent and Randy says he’s on the football team and that’s enough for the cops. Oh privilege.

The Aunt tries to hypnotize information out of Amy and fails before leaving.

Amy and Randy go out of the store to find that Amy’s car is gone, presumably taken by Julia. She’s on her way to save Scott. All she has to do is get him to wake up and the doctors said he’d be okay. So that’s what she’s going to do, even if it kills her.

Amy and Randy steal the running cop car in the parking lot and end up catching up to The Aunt. They impersonate police officers and pull them over and Randy actually gets out and acts the part to help stall. While he’s talking to them Amy floors it away. The Aunt realizes what’s happening and tries to leave, but Randy shoots out their tires and they swerve back onto the shoulder. The last thing Amy sees is The Aunt & Co. converging on Randy.

Julia gets back to the hospital after midnight and runs into Sally (Scott’s former football game date) bringing Scott a cake from the diner. Randy didn’t tell her the whole story of what happened to Scott and when Julia tells her she’s horrified. Julia’s able to convince Sally to help her under the guise of wanting to say goodbye to him. She gives Sally Scott’s camcorder and asks her to pretend to be a reporter doing a story about nurses to distract the nurse on duty. Sally gets to work and Julia ducks into Scott’s room to do her thing.

His aura light’s barely on but she puts her hands on him anyway and blacks out. When she comes to she’s at the lake she and Scott nearly drowned in with her mom – an overlong life lesson is taught about what one prays for and how nothing is free. In order for Julia to save Scott she must drown and her mom asks her if it’s the right decision she wants to make and Julia is sure it is.

When she comes to she’s not in her body but out of it, tethered by a silver cord and sitting next to ghost!Scott with his own withered-looking cord. They banter about dumb shit and Scott continues to prove he’s a date-raper in the making. Julia realizes in order to save him he has to take her cord. She feels more at home in the other world with her mom, like she was supposed to die in that robbery too. So it’s only proper to set things right. Scott doesn’t want her to die and says Amy will be heartbroken. Julia directs him to the pond for when he wakes up to help him remember everything. He takes her cord and she starts floating up, like someone’s grabbed her hand and is leading her away.

Amy pulls into the hospital just ahead of her tail and runs in. She almost makes it past the nurses being distracted by Sally, but gets noticed. They try to stop her but she taunts them, blowing Sally’s cover and then bolting into Scott’s room and locking the door.

He’s awake, but Julia’s gone. She’s on his lap and he’s brushing her hair with his fingers.

The crew rushes in, including The Aunt, Officer Crawley with a handcuffed Randy, and the nurses. The Aunt is actually loving and mourns Julia’s death, offering Amy to come over and they can talk. She then threatens Crawley after he tries to pin the meth pipe on Julia, calling her a junkie, that if he doesn’t back off he’ll be sorry. She then bewitches his partner to draw his gun on Crawley and they march out of the room.

Randy gets uncuffed and The Aunt asks him to remove Julia’s body. They’ll have it cremated and have her ashes spread on the pond (because someone just randomly died in the hospital so why wouldn’t Randy be able to carry Julia’s corpse out of there like a piece of luggage?). When they mention of the pond something stirs in Scott and The Aunt assures him that he’ll eventually see why.

The epilogue is a tidy wrap-up of events. Frank, 19, is doing time until he’s 25 on a number of charges. Stan, the friend, 16, will be in jail until he’s 20. The shop owner who killed Jim says a personally-written prayer at his funeral and couldn’t forgive himself for what he did even though Jim’s parents did.

Julia, 17, had a will (really) and left the house and land to Amy and Scott. Since The Aunt was actually the executor of the estate and she could have voided it, but she didn’t.

Amy and Scott bring the urn of ashes into the woods and stumble upon Randy carving Julia’s face into a tree, as he does, and says he’ll put Jim’s on a tree next to it, with Amy’s permission, which she gives. They go to the pond and pour the ashes in and all three end up seeing Julia with her mom as they leave the celestial plane and disappear, presumably to heaven, what with all the god talk.

Final Thoughts:

Meh. Definitely not my favorite Pike book. Not even close. This one just felt so . . . masturbatory. Just really overwritten, kind of forceful with its God message (although I’ll be the first to admit I’m super sensitive to that stuff), and not all that great on plot.

It wasn’t scary, the plot was ridiculous, and I just hated how everyone basically fell over themselves for Julia and her mom. It was just . . . Blech. Left a bad taste in my mouth.

[Wing: I know I’ve read this one a couple of times, but I remember nothing about it. Nothing. And after reading this recap, I’m pretty sure I blanked most of it out on purpose.]