Book Review: Spellbound by Christopher Pike
Christopher Pike was one of my treasured authors back in high school. I had a collection of his horror/thriller/suspense-themed paperback novels and I always had one on me. I read them over and over, studying the character development, re-reading to see if I could figure out the red herrings drop along the way. Somewhere, during one of my many moves after high school, I lost the entire collection. I probably couldn’t fit a box of books into my car and donated them, but now that a lot of these are out of print, I’m really regretting that. I found a small stack of them a few years ago at a library book sale and snatched them up. After reading Spellbound again recently, I decided to put my thoughts about it down in a blog post.
No one knew how the girl had died.
They found Karen Holly in the mountain stream, her skull crushed. There was only one witness to the tragedy, Karen’s boyfriend, Jason Whitfield. He said a grizzly had killed her. But a lot of people didn’t believe him. They thought Jason had murdered her in a fit of rage.
And now weeks have passed, and Jason has another girlfriend, Cindy Jones. And there are the new kids in
town, Joni Harper, the quiet English beauty that Cindy’s brother, Alex, cannot get out of his mind. And Bala, the foreign exchange student from Africa, the grandson of a powerful shaman.
Together they will return to the place where Karen was killed.
Some will die.
The others will come face to face with a horror beyond imagining.
I needed a break this week so I plucked this off my YA collection of books on my shelf. I read the back, and as I flipped through the first few pages, the story started to come back to me. (Full disclosure: I know I had to have read this book more than 20 times in my teens!) I remembered who the “monster” was pretty quickly, but couldn’t remember how “they” got that way. The main parts of the book take place in a state park near a waterfall, and I got fatigued after a while reading about how the characters continually kept going back to that spot for meet-ups and dates, especially after it became clear that something wild and murdurous was on the loose up there.
I loved the relationship between siblings Cindy and Alex, as the novel goes back and forth from their perspectives. However, they both were a little too bold for their own good, and both ended up falling into the turbulent river at two different times, leaving me shaking my head a bit. Jason was also a bit of a caricature–rich, good looking, football player and most of all, a jerk. My favorite character was Bala, the grandson of the shaman, as I felt Pike really nailed his mannerisms and dialogue. Also, I kind of laughed a bit that you NEVER saw Cindy and Alex’s parents at their house. They were always out working at the hardware store they own, but it made me wonder if that was meant to raise suspicion in the reader or if Pike just didn’t really want to deal with character development for them. They are only mentioned in passing as “still being a the store,” or “working at inventory” at the store. As a teen I doubt this even crossed my mind, but reading it as a grown adult, I picked up on it right away.
Now I’m on to reading another old Pike favorite, Remember Me. It’s narrated by a ghost, which is funny, because I also wrote a book in the same fashion. I also came across this article about Christopher Pike’s novels, but the blogger didn’t have Spellbound on the list.
*Note: Christopher Pike’s older novels are out of print, and there is one copy of this book for sale on Amazon for $71. Wow. I’m holding on to my copy. Also, I may be revealing a bit of my discerning nature here, but I’ve often wondered if Christopher Pike was a pen name for another author, as there is not a whole lot of information about the man out there and even fewer photos. He could write a lot of books, though, and he kept me entertained in my teens along with Lois Duncan, so I have no issue with it.