Monday, July 19, 2010

Childhood Thrills

Childhood Thrills is a feature that recalls books I read in my childhood or adolescence that were special to me or "haunt" me in some way.  I don't intend to re-read & review them, just simply share my memories and the feelings they evoke.  

The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

This was probably my favorite when I was a child and I read it over and over.  It’s about a boy named David Stanley and his 3 younger siblings whose mother has passed away.  Their father is getting re-married to a woman named Molly and they move into a new home which is actually an old house with a history (of course).  Soon, Molly’s daughter arrives. 

Amanda shows up with an elaborate braided hairstyle (which I tried to emulate), a gem in the middle of her forehead (nope, nothing in my mom’s jewelry box worked for this accessory), witch-like clothes and, it seems a talent for “knowing” things.  She brings a pet crow with her and books on the occult and most of all a superior attitude regarding her supernatural status.  The Stanley kids, sufficiently impressed, want to learn also. 

Soon after some ghostly activity starts occurring and they discover the house might be haunted.  To top it off, there is a legend about the missing Cupid's head banister.  The kids go through amusing trials while being apprenticed to Amanda’s brand of witchcraft, ESP tests and participate in a seance. 
I remember being in awe of Amanda, although she wasn’t the warmest of characters, which just gave her more of a mysterious air.  And if only I was one of the Stanley kids, maybe I could have learned from her!   For a kid who loved Halloween and anything spooky, this book totally delivered.  I remember wanting so bad to be in this family, to do what Amanda did.  If only I had a pet crow!  If only I had books on the Occult!  If only I was all knowing!

Even though I was the youngest of 5, my siblings were all much older than me, so technically I was sort of an only child.  And to read this story of all these brothers and sisters who were close to each other in age and emotionally was my dream.  Then to have someone else introduced into that dynamic in the form of a new mysterious step-sister was just thrilling to me!

*SPOILER ALERT:  Most of the incidents in the book turn out to have a logical explanation, perpetuated by Amanda, which totally disappointed me.  (Booo!)  However, there were definitely some supernatural elements in play, especially when relating to one of the kids which redeemed it somewhat.  (Yay!)  I think one of the reasons I constantly re-read this was even though I knew how it was going to end, I wanted to experience the start and middle of the story when the questions were still unanswered and there was a quality that the magic might be real.  It left me breathless!  END SPOILER ALERT*

I found the cover that I remember on Goodreads.  This book reminds me of reading under a giant ash tree in my yard after school in the Fall.  The smells of autumn in the air and colored leaves above me, I get nostalgic just thinking about it.  


Unknown said...

cool post!!! my childhood was marked by the Little Vampire series by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg

I remember reading them all and always hunting for the next release =)


Bonnie said...

Hello! I always found The Legend of Sleepy Hollow particularly hair raising!

xoxo, Bonnie @ the literary gato

Midnyte Reader said...

Larissa-I'll have to check that series out.

Bonnie-I live 20 minutes away from Sleepy Hollow! It's an amazing place!

Amanda said...

The Egypt Game was my favorite book as a child, by the same author, and I read it over and over. As an adult, I realized she had other books and The Headless Cupid was the first one I read. I loved it!

Midnyte Reader said...

I read the Egypt Game too...that is another one that will probably be featured in Childhood Thrills!

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