Email this review


When Bernadette, 14, is drawn into the company of denizens of the Mandrake Root, a southern California occult shop, she almost becomes the fourth victim in a series of bizarre murders. Uprooted from her Ohio home by her beloved stepfather's death, Bernadette is at odds with her mother, who is preoccupied with a new love, and with stepbrother Keith, a college student whose fascination with psychology contrasts with Bernadette's psychic pursuits. Each time Bernadette tries to cast a spell to get them all back to Ohio, there's another death, including that of her best friend and of Giselle, the beautiful young divorcee who has been teaching at rite shop and is mentor to both Keith and Bernadette. Circumstances make Keith a prime suspect. There's plenty here to keep readers enthralled--details of astrology and the occult and the mounting suspense culminating in Bernadette's hairbreadth midnight escape. They may even be interested in Keith and Giselle's rather pedantic discussion of the differences between their philosophies. Characterization is perfunctory, though; such scenes as the confrontation with Mother over her friendship with Don are laughably simplistic. Still, Bernadette's Angst is satisfactorily resolved; she realizes that the spell-murder link was a coincidence, but life can rise anew even in California, and that ""if there are any demons, they are only the ones inside us.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1986
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Harper & Row