First published in 1990, Christopher Pike’s extremely weird YA novel Witch tells the story of Julia Florence and her friend Amy.
Basically, Julia is the latest in a long line of witches. She has the power to see the future and to heal people, with the only problem being that, when she heals them, she takes their illnesses and injuries into her own body. So, if she heals someone who is on the verge of death, that means that she’ll be the one who dies. That’s what happened to Julia’s mother and Julia’s determined not to let the same thing happen to her. It seems like the simple solution would be to just not heal anyone.
But then her friend Scott gets shot during a convenience store robbery. Scott is in a coma and is going to die unless he gets some supernatural healing. Julia can either heal him or she can buy a gun (?), use her abilities to see the future, and go all vigilante in an attempt to take out the robber who shot Scott. Julia goes for the latter but then Amy discovers that the robber has a weird, kind of out-of-nowhere connection to a girl who was previously healed by Julia’s mother. And, she also discovers that there’s a coven of witches searching for Julia because …. well, who knows?
Anyway, it all comes down to whether or not Julia will risk her life to save Scott. Scott is an aspiring director and kind of an annoying guy, to be honest. But everyone is charmed by how annoying he is and he has a great future ahead of him, unless he dies.
Whatever will Julia do!?
This is a weird one. Between the witchcraft, the healing, the psychic visions, the high school drama, and the vigilante action scenes, one gets the feeling that Pike just threw random darts at a bunch of story points that he had taped to the wall and he pretty much just went wherever the darts led him. And don’t get me wrong. It is a little fun to see just how many different genres and plot elements that Pike could stuff into one book but the story itself is still a bit of a mess. There’s a lot in here and not all of it really comes together.
Plus, this is yet another Pike novel to end on a downbeat note. R.L. Stine wrote some pretty morbid books but he always ended with a joke. Pike’s books, on the other hand, always seem to end with the message that there is no such thing as a completely happy ending. Normally, I’m all for a book that ends on a down note but this time, after all the messiness that came before the ending, I really could have used a Stine-style one liner. Sometimes, the best way to deal with an existential crisis is to laugh your way through it.