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YA Book Club: Christopher Pike’s ‘Witch’

By Kate Hudson | Books | June 20, 2019 |

By Kate Hudson | Books | June 20, 2019 |


What the f*ck in the world did I just read? Let me back track.

As an adult, I thought I had read all of the Christopher Pike books available “back then” (or, nineteen dickety two, if you want to get specific about it.) I was wrong because I had never read “Witch” which we’re covering today. Maybe if I had, I would look more kindly on it, but as it stands, this book was a stupid, turd of a book. I’ll tell you why.

Julia Florence (ugh. Yes, her last name really is that on the nose. I guarantee you it’s because the only famous nurse Pike could think of was Florence Nightingale. What about Ratchet, guy?!) and Amy Belle (her name is on the nose, too—“Belle, Ami” beautiful friend) are friends. Although we don’t really know why, because Julia keeps stealing Amy’s boyfriends because Julia is gorgeous, warm, nurturing, and mysterious and Amy is just nice and forgiving. Anyway, earlier in the year, Julia’s mother died because she was witch who healed people, but part of her healing process involved taking on the person she was healing’s sickness. So Julia’s mom, who Amy called “Mother Florence” (gag) took on more than she could chew with a patient, and ended up dying. Julia, inexplicably, was allowed to live alone in the house even though she was 17. Don’t question it.

Anyway Julia and Amy have this horrible, obnoxious friend Scott who incessantly talks to his female friends in sexually suggestive language and we’re supposed to find that charming and not creepy. It’s gross. So, Amy and Scott are trying to get Julia to leave the house, because she doesn’t like to get out since her mom died, and are trying to do this by having her go to the high school football game where Amy’s new boyfriend is on the opposing team.

Julia agrees to this but before she goes to meet them, she goes to this pond on her property to have some visions. See, Julia is a witch, too, just like her mother. Not only does she have the healing touch, but she also has the ability to see what’s going on in the world at any given time, as long as she’s at her special pond. We’re told that Julia’s mom embraced her daughter’s gift, but told her never to have visions at her visionin’ pond at night, but never explained why.

So of COURSE Julia decides to go the pond at dusk, which turns into night, and she has a vision of the future. In it, she sees a guy in a red jacket get shot and killed in a liquor store hold up gone awry. Uh oh. That’s why you never go to your vision’ pond at night. No good comes from it!

Cut to the football game. Julia finally shows up and Amy is glad to see her, but isn’t so glad to see that her boyfriend is into Julia. Her boyfriend’s name is Jim, I think. This book was written in 1990 when teenagers could be named Jim. I feel like if it were written in 2019, his name would be Cody or Kayden. I’m getting off track.

Scott obviously makes gross jokes to the girls during this interaction. We’re told that he goes to the football games to record the cheerleaders flashing their underpants to sell on VHS to the school at a later date, and we’re supposed to view this as entrepreneurial and not gross. There’s also a whole sub plot at the game where Scott has asked out a 30-year-old woman and is lying to her about her age to try to trick her into sleeping with him. Scott sucks.

So Amy, Scott, Jim and Julia decide to go hang out after the game. The boys want to drink booze, but Julia, fresh off her terrifying vision of the future, refuses. She doubles down on this once she sees Jim in his red letterman jacket, and now she’s convinced Jim is going to die that night.

So eventually the teens stop at a convenience store to grab some sodas, and Scott goes in. Only Julia realizes too late that it’s the store from her vision, so she rushes in and tries to stop two guys from shooting Scott but she’s too late. He takes one to the head and is clinging on to life.

Scott gets rushed to the hospital and is put in a coma, and everyone is told that it doesn’t look good. That he’s most likely going to die.

Amy is bummed out about this, but Julia and inexplicably Jim decide to go hunt down the two guys who shot Scott. Looks like Amy is losing another boyfriend, friends.

What happens next is extremely dumb and convoluted, so I’m just going to give you the highlights.

The girl Julia’s mother died trying to save turned out to be Julia’s half-sister, who was killed because she was on a motorcycle with a drunk guy. I think his name was Jack? Amy finds this out by breaking into the hospital basement and going over everyone’s medical files. HIPAA violations for everyone!

Anyway, drunk guy turns out to be one of the guys who shot Scott.

Julia and Jim buy guns, somehow skirt around the waiting period, and use her vision to figure out where maybe-Jack and a character that is -I kid you not- referred to as “fat kid” are going to hit next. (I feel like Pike was probably a huge fan of Jake and the Fat Man, and “fat kid” was his own mini homage to the character. However, this book is so insensitive and tone deaf, “fat kid” did not surprise me as a name in the slightest.)

Julia, Jim, Maybe-Jack (?) and fat kid have a standoff at a convenience store. Julia and Jim come in late to the robbery, so one of the bad guys had already knocked out the clerk. Julia shoots “fat kid“‘s knee, so he’s out for the count, but Jim ends up getting fatally shot by the clerk who comes to and thinks he’s the bad guy. It’s OK, though, because Jim was fated to die the night Scott got shot, so this is just the universe righting itself, see?

Julia and Frank (his name is not Jack, after all, just looked it up) have a stand off, but who shows up but Amy, and this guy Randy, who we’re supposed to root for because he’s a self-admitted slob who once dumped a milkshake on a girl for asking him why he had multiple milkshakes with his meal (don’t waste the milkshake, bro!), but also, likes to carve weird portraits of people into trees, show up to get Julia to stop.

See, Amy has been following Julia’s Aunt, who is also a witch, and her coven while they were trying to track down Julia. So Amy’s coming to warn Julia and help her walk back her anger at Frank to keep her from killing him.

Anywho, this whole stupid book ends by Julia going to the hospital to heal Scott, with her dying in the f*cking process because remember, healers take on the sickness they take away. Julia believes that Scott is so talented that he’s going to be a godd*mned film director in Hollywood and she doesn’t want to rob the world of his contribution. This is the same f*cker who repeatedly tells his best friend he has dreams of them naked on a beach, throughout the book. We all know what types of movies Scott will end up making, and they undoubtedly will star Gerard Butler in his most give-no-f*cks role, and most certainly will not pass the Bechdel test.


Anyway, that’s how the book ends.

This book sucked. I can’t wrap my head around how Julia, who can literally heal people with her touch, truly believed that Scott, a walking poster child for sexual harassment had more to contribute to the world than her, who again, can literally heal people. I’m glad I somehow skipped it as a kid, but like I said earlier, it makes me wonder if I would have enjoyed it more on a re-read if I had a foundation of fond memories. As it stands, Pike can keep this crapfest. He clearly needs to stick to lizard people and your run of the mill teenage murderous psychopaths.

Oh well, they can’t all be winners, can they?

Next week we’re going to spend some times with our favorite babysitters by covering Baby-Sitter’s Club #7: “Claudia and Mean Janine” because Claudia Kishi never lets us down.

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Kate is a staff contributor. You can follow her on Twitter.

Header Image Source: Archway Paperback