Me and my reading nostalgia. 'The Headless Cupid' was my first Zilpha Keatley Snyder book and made her my favorite author. It took me years to figure out how to say her name.
All grown up now, this is definitely one of her best books, striking the perfect balance between troubled youth and the supernatural.
Snyder knows that the kids aren't alright, and that is what makes her books worth reading. Because yes, it's true that her plots aren't intricate but she knew how to write how kids spoke with each other.
Here we don't get into the head of the troubled Amanda, but instead see her actions through the eyes of her new stepbrother David, a boy whose been mostly responsible for his siblings since his mother's death years ago. Snyder handles his conflicted feelings for his mother, his step-mother and his curious awe for Amanda's rebellion deftly and with compassion.
The other Stanley children, motormouth Janie, stubborn Tesser, and her twin, the sweet and spooky Blair, are not fully fleshed out characters yet, its true, but there's such genuineness to their interactions that it's not a surprise to me that Snyder wrote three sequels:
That's what the greatness of this books comes down to: you pick up her books eager for a spooky mystery, which is delivered, but more importantly, you're exposed to your own thoughts and doubts and fears coming out of another character's mouth and actions. There may be more action-oriented, "better," books out there for young adults these days, but I haven't read anything else for this age-range that so perfectly captures the mindset of someone on the edge of childhood and making those first painful transitions into adolescence.