I'm searching for the title of a book I read in the mid 2000s. Based on pop culture references in the book, it was set in Canada during the 80's and/or written by a Canadian author (possibly written in the 80's as well). I had taken it out of my elementary school library (again, in Canada). I seem to recall that the cover was deep purple with a fancy house on top of a hill and there was lightning surrounding it.

Some facts I still remember (not necessarily in order of plot):

  • It's written from the daughter's POV. Her dad had remarried and his wife had a young son from her previous marriage. The daughter isn't too fond of him.
  • There’s a part in the beginning where she's in her room listening to "the new Glass Tiger CD" and her stepmother asks her to go downstairs (either for dinner or to help with bringing in groceries). She yells down that she'll come down when the song ends but actually listens to three songs before going down.
  • The stepmother is a realtor and she brought a cake home with her to celebrate a major sale she made that day. I think it's later revealed that the buyer(s) were using aliases and never followed through on the deal
  • A main character is a woman who shows up in their town one day. She practices mind control and basic witchcraft and teaches the daughter to do the same. The daughter tries to practice mind control on the family's dog and gets disappointed when it doesn't work. I think the dog's name was Toby? I feel like the letter "T" was in the name somewhere. There's a part where she's in her backyard trying to mentally lead him to his water bowl and she thinks she almost made it happen, but someone calls out to her and her focus is broken.
  • Eventually she becomes sort of a student of witchcraft; she also helps the woman put on a play for the community. It wasn't The Crucible, but to some extent it was definitely about witchcraft and punishment for being a witch. Joan of Arc is mentioned several times throughout the book, possibly as a character in the play the woman wanted to put on. Some scenes in the play involved public burning at the stake and a fake guillotine. At one point the woman asks the daughter to act out being burned at the stake and does some kind of weird mind control thing that makes her feel like the flames are actually real. Understandably, her parents are kind of freaked out and questioning whether they should let their kid keep hanging out with this stranger
  • A pretty significant plot point I can remember is how the daughter finds out that the woman is trying to control the entire town. Hypnotizing the audience at the play would be part of the mass mind control process. The daughter visits the empty theatre at night to look for clues to prove to people that she's telling the truth, but the woman shows up and basically says that she can't be found out. She threatens to literally murder her through the methods she's been acting out as part of the play. The line there was something like "you've been practicing this for months, but now you'll know what it really feels like to be burned at the stake."
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    I've done some basic proofreading of your post. I advice visiting the tour for how to accept answers (click on the checkmark by the voting buttons) and to visit scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/9335/… to elicit further details to edit into your question. Do you think this might be RL Stine or Christopher Pike? This sounds like their jam.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 5:08
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    goodreads.com/book/show/1720001.The_Curse has Joan of Arc in a play, but I think you would have mentioned werewolves.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 5:09
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    Crossposted on Reddit at reddit.com/r/horrorlit/comments/ibuedr/… in case they come up with something there.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 5:10
  • @FuzzyBoots thanks for your help! It definitely isn't R.L. Stine and so far nothing by Christopher Pike matches. Can you think of any other similar titles and/or authors? Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 1:25

1 Answer 1


A Goodreads user found it. It turns out I had been mixing up two entirely different books. The cover and details about the stepmother and stepbrother are from Mystery House by Jean Booker; everything relating to witchcraft is from a different book that I still haven't found.

Front cover of Mystery House

Ever since the weird old woman was found dead in the baggot house last Halloween, there have been stories that the place is haunted. But what kind of ghost uses binoculars and antique cars?

Chris and friends start investigating the strange goings on and soon find themselves up against a great danger. The secret the house conceals ultimately threatens the safety of Chris and her family -- and it's anything but ghostly.

  • Can you provide the matching details? Also, you can accept your own answer by clicking on the checkmark by the voting buttons.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Aug 23, 2020 at 4:25

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