Pike for All: 10 Christopher Pike Books for Different Types of Horror Fans by Cassie Daley @holo.reader
We’re going to start this off with a little trip down memory lane, since it’s Classic Horror Month for the Night Worms! Instead of sharing some of my more traditional classic favorites, we’re going to go back to what started it all for me in particular: my own ‘classics’, AKA the early 90s & discovering Christopher Pike.
As a kid, I didn’t have a lot of encouragement when it came to reading. Neither of my parents were big fans of books or reading. Although they didn’t bash me for wanting to read more of them, they also didn’t fulfill many holiday wishes for new ones, opting instead for other things they felt were more appropriate choices for a child’s Christmas gifts.
For many of my younger years, I relied on my elementary school’s library for my reading purposes. I didn’t have access to books anywhere else, and with the school being the sole source of my avid reading, I quickly burned through what was available and geared toward my age range. By the time I hit the fifth grade - I was around 10 years old at the time - I remember eagerly approaching our librarian each week, hoping that the school had gotten new books in so I’d have something new to read.
Our school librarian was my favorite person in the entire building. Mrs. Mercer was kind, always listened to me when I wanted to tell her about the latest book I’d read, and never made me feel strange for preferring the company of stories to people. Recognizing that she had an avid bookworm in her midst, Mrs. Mercer did what nobody else in my life had done regarding my reading up until that point: she encouraged it.
In the middle of my fifth-grade year, I walked into the school media center, hopeful as ever that there might be something new for me to read. I was met with a sight I’ll never forget: Mrs. Mercer standing behind her desk, smiling broadly while struggling to hold a giant plastic trash bag that was filled with books. She explained to me that her teenage daughter was leaving for college, and had wanted to donate her book collection, so she’d brought them in for me to take. The bag contained over 20 books by Christopher Pike, with a few others thrown in written by teen thriller/horror favorites like Caroline B. Cooney, R.L. Stine, and Richie Tankersly Cusick.
This gesture from my librarian honestly changed my life. Until this point, I’d been limited to elementary school-aged books; stories of pre-teen babysitters, school dilemmas, angsty wizards. No hate to any of that, because I loved it (and still do, if we’re going by my recent reread of the entire Harry Potter series - so good!) - but I wanted more! I wanted heartbreak and betrayal, murder and mystery, aliens, and death! Christopher Pike gave me all that and more.
Recently, Mike Flanagan announced an upcoming project - a Netflix series adaptation of one of Pike’s books, The Midnight Club. You might recognize Flanagan as being the creative mind behind hugely successful horror titles such as the recent adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, Oculus, and Doctor Sleep. He’s one of my favorites, and this news is a blessing in the face of the mess that 2020 has been so far! I’m so excited for this series, especially after reading that other Pike books would have influences in the series. I have every confidence that it’s going to be amazing to watch!
Since I know that not everyone has the same life-altering experience with being introduced to Christopher Pike’s books, I wanted to do a little throwback list of some of my favorite books of his. I pulled a couple of suggestions for different types of horror readers, hopefully showcasing the wide range and talent that Pike displays as a writer. From his strictly horror stuff to his more sci-fi leaning stories, each one is a fun ride through Pike’s imagination that’s saved me from a reading slump many times over the years. Plus, the older cover art for his books is AMAZING! I’ve included photos of some great ones here for your viewing pleasure from my personal collection!
PIKE FOR ALL: 10 CHRISTOPHER PIKE BOOKS FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF HORROR FANS
Are you intrigued and scared by things that go BUMP in the night? Do you love to be spooked by the dearly departed?
Read these Pike books if you’re a fan of… GHOST STORIES!
Whisper of Death
A handful of teens realize they’re the only ones left in their deserted town, and struggle to piece together the common denominator tying them there together. They realize that they were all somehow involved with a classmate of theirs, a dead girl named Betty-Sue. As they piece together their places in the events leading up to her suicide - and their current predicament as the only people left in the world - some other things come to light that each of the characters would prefer to stay hidden.
Bury Me Deep
This is a great one for fans of vacation horror as well as ghost stories! Our girl Jean is off to Hawaii for the trip of a lifetime when a tragedy occurs on the plane that upsets the vibe of her plans. She ends up being haunted by dreams and visions, and it’s both creepy and informational - I actually learned a lot about scuba diving from this book as a teen (although, as with anything, take fiction with a grain of salt & do your research!! Neither Pike nor I am responsible for any scuba-related deaths!). If you find tight, confined spaces especially horrifying - this one is for you!
Prefer your horror fiction to be a little more based in reality? Are serial killers and court dramas more your jam?
Read these Pike books if you’re a fan of… TRUE CRIME!
The Wicked Heart
This was one of the stand-out books of the entire bag my librarian gave to me as a kid, ‘cause this one introduced me to being in the mind of a serial killer. I’d never been on the side of the ‘bad guy’ before, and having this perspective opened up to me was incredible! Not only do we get Dusty’s perspective as the killer here, but we also get Sheila’s perspective as the best friend of one of Dusty’s victims - the drama of it all!
Fall Into Darkness
One of my personal favorites, this is actually the only other on-screen adaptation that I know of that has been made from Pike’s books. In the mid-90s, a movie starring Tatyana Ali - Ashley, from the Fresh Prince! - was made, and I’m going to be honest with you: it wasn’t very good. That said, the book is stellar, and really shows the darker side of teenage friendships and how far some will go to take revenge on the wrongs that have been done to them by their peers - real, or perceived. This one also has a bit of a twist ending, which is how I discover how much I LOVE TWISTS! While this one is a great sort of thriller, it also has some pretty intensely horrific moments that definitely slide it toward that side of the genre scale. And a part of the book is actually devoted to being told via courtroom scenes, which makes it great for lovers of true crime.
Love your monsters big, and your beasts scary? Is your idea of ‘perfect reading’ spending time with someone fighting for their lives against nightmare beings?
Read these Pike books if you’re a fan of… CREATURE FEATURES!
This one throws you into the action with a young girl, a shotgun, and a whole lot of blood. As the jocks and cheerleaders in a small town’s high school start changing in bloodthirsty ways, the best friend of the girl who murdered their classmates isn’t left with many options as to how to save herself and the people she loves before it’s too late. This one is a little like vampires, and a little like aliens - but a lot of good either way!
Of all the books given to me on that fateful day as a fifth-grader, this is the first one I read and one of the ones that have stuck with me the most as I’ve gotten older. This one, like some of Pike’s other books, features a lot of spiritual and mystical themes alongside their other dominant genres, whether that’s horror, sci-fi, or something else. Some of my favorite of his books have these more esoteric influences, and it was Pike’s books that got me interested in learning more about things like religion and mythology as I got older. This one has a little bit of everything - gruesomely murdered characters, mysticism, and a terrifying beast.
The ‘final girl’ trope is one that many of us horror fans love a lot, and for a damn good reason: strong female characters are awesome!
Read these Pike books if you’re a fan of… FINAL GIRLS!
This is one of the books that have a bit more of a strong romantic focal point, so if you love a good insta-love story in your books, you’ll enjoy this! Julia is a young witch who learned a few things from her mother before her untimely death, but not enough. Although she tries her best to make the right choices for herself, she ends up making a mistake that triggers a series of events that end up being both tragic and cataclysmic for her.
Remember all that talk about being heavily influenced by Pike as a kid? Because of this book, I went on to take college classes & write several papers on mythology, Greek history, & architecture because of how interested I was in the subject. This is an excellent example of Pike’s range in subject because this one tackles everything from international travel fears to vacation romances to reincarnation. I’ll admit that there’s also a bit more focus on sex in this one, but there’s also a subplot involving Greek gods and goddesses that keeps me turning the pages on every reread.
Do you keep Kleenex beside your reading chair, and reach for books that leave you emotionally wrecked?
Read these Pike books if you’re a fan of… EMOTIONAL HORROR!
Road to Nowhere
This is my favorite of all of Pike’s books, and I love the cover more than I can say! Teresa is a teenage runaway dealing with the trauma of emotional betrayal, and along the way, she picks up two hitchhikers. These two characters are a little funny from the start, but Teresa has a good heart and wants to help them. As she drives to their destination, they tell her the stories of their troubled pasts. I don’t want to say anything because not having this one spoiled is important to enjoy the ending, but I loved it so much! Another book that helped me discover my love of twist endings, a love that continues to this day!
The Starlight Crystal
This is the one most heavily influenced by science fiction, and I know that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I couldn’t not include it - aside from the one above it, it’s my top favorite of all of his books! It’s a little difficult to explain this one because the story spans the course of time and space, and there is a sort of story-within-a-story thing going on that has to be read to be understood. That said, if you’re a lover of sci-fi, definitely check this one out! It’s simultaneously sad, hopeful, and epic - and parts of it take place on a spaceship! This one also has a small tie-in to one of Pike’s other books from his Remember Me series, which I love!
Are you a fellow Pike lover? I’m always happy to make connections over my favorite books, so let’s talk about them! Did I include any of your favorites - or did I leave any out? I’d love to know! And if the upcoming show by Mike Flanagan is your first introduction to the author: WELCOME! You’re in for some fun!
Cassie is an avid bookworm & rainbow enthusiast. She creates artwork sold in her Etsy shop focused on color, horror, and pop culture. In addition to the Night Worms blog, she writes about and reviews horror fiction on her blog, Let's Get Galactic.