Review: “The Headless Cupid” by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

David Stanley and his three younger siblings have barely adjusted their lives to accept the death of their mother and welcome their new stepmother, Molly.  However, Molly comes with another addition to the Stanley family—her twelve year-old daughter, Amanda.  Not only is Amanda antagonistic to all the Stanleys and her mother, but she is also obsessed with the occult.  Paranormal activity circles around Amanda, whose temperament is as dark and complex as her beliefs in the supernatural and her strange behavior.

The secret history of supernatural events surrounding the Stanleys’ house, specifically poltergeists, creates even more trouble, especially when similar events start to happen again.  David’s suspicions about Amanda become only one of his problems.  While healing the rift in his family, David must decide about his own views on the reality of the supernatural.  Zilpha Keatley Snyder evinces that her novel The Headless Cupid concerns more than an unsolved mystery about a past event and a lost decoration.  This story stresses the importance of familial relationships.

Amanda’s personality has been affected by her mother’s divorce, which is the real reason for all of Amanda’s anger and aggression.  David’s patience and understanding is a powerful antidote to Amanda’s “fascination” with the supernatural, an interest she relies upon to transfer some of the pain she is experiencing.  The Stanleys’ conflicts with Amanda are eventually mollified indirectly by the end of the headless cupid’s mystery, a crucial part of the storyline.  The humorous individuality of each of David’s siblings provide a strong contrast to David’s eleven year-old maturity and Amanda’s brooding mentality, while the Stanley family environment is a warm background to the deep topics discussed in the story.  The author’s creative use of paranormal activity and its never-ending controversy in The Headless Cupid is surprising and suspenseful.  This novel, with all its elements, is truly one of a kind.

Original review: Part 1: Three choice novels by Zilpha Keatley Snyder,


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