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HaBO: Paranormal YA from the 80s

Bitchery reader Heather writes:

I think I know why there are so many paranormal romances in the past years:
because back in the 80s there were these YA paranormal “romances” where
the girl learns some cool little power and finds a boy and they (maybe)

I had a favorite one of those in the 1980s, and I can’t remember
author/title. Nostalgia is egging me to find it again, and google is not
finding it. Help!

Setting: Down Under somewhere (either Australia or NZ. Somewhere English
speaking and southern hemisphere).

Villian: Old creep guy who has a fixation with growing roses. I remember
that the summer was Jan/Feb (thus southern hemisphere). He uses mystical
evil power to make the roses better. Child sacrifice (or sucking life force,
something like that) may have been involved in making the roses better, but
I forget.

Heroine: Awkward teenage girl (possible redundant statement) with a little
sibling (I *think* little brother, but I might be wrong.)

Plot: Little sibling disappears. Girl suspects creepy old guy. Somehow gets
involved with a boy who explains creepy old guy uses magic and of course the
girl can also do magic but just needs to learn how to use her Secret Powers.
Somehow manages to do that and rescues little brother.

HEA: Girl is sitting around with Boy and little sibling (plus clueless
parent, who just thinks small child was “lost” for a few days). She is now
more confidant since she has Secret Powers, and amuses the younger sibling
by drawing colorful pictures in the air with her Secret Powers.

Anyone remember something like that? Probably came around circa 1987.

I loved books like those – there were SO many in the 80s. Anyone remember this one?


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  1. 1
    Aly says:

    Margaret Mayo’s the Changeover?

  2. 2
    Aly says:

    Oops can’t edit
    But if it is the Changeover, the little sibling actually become sick, (not disappeared)
    Heroine :Laura something (sometimes called Lolly)
    The Sibling: Jacko
    Mother Kate (who got a new boyfriend called Chris)

    Hero(?) was called Sorensen Carlisle (Sorry) whose family (mother Miriam and grandmother Willow) helped Laura to get her power (and there is a story of its own there ^^)

  3. 3

    Definitely Margaret Mahy’s THE CHANGEOVER, although some of the details have changed in the remembering (as one might expect).

    Brilliant coming-of-age story, and one of my favourite books of all time.

  4. 4
    Aly says:

    I meant Margaret Mahy…. and yes, it’s set in NZ.
    Oh man, I need to stop replying when super excited

  5. 5
    Carin says:

    Sounds like The Changeover to me.  That’s one of my favorite books!  I loved it as a kid and even still as an adult.  I think the creepy guy smelled like peppermints.  And Sorrenson’s nickname was “Sorry”.  And he bookshelf full of…. romance novels.  :)

  6. 6
    Devon says:

    Oh I loved this book.  And Catalogue of the Universe and The Tricksters.  I wonder if they’re in print anymore.

  7. 7
    Peyton says:

    It sounds like a cross between A Wrinkle in Time and Labrynth.  I think need to track this book down!

  8. 8
    Quill says:

    Ah, the classics!  :D Ms. Mahy has actually written a great deal, some of it for children as well—The Wind Between the Stars is astounding.  Unfortunately much of her writing never makes it to the United States.  I have a friend in Australia who used to send me copies of stuff I never saw on Amazon.  Seek her out if you can.

  9. 9
    Tibblet says:

    It’s the Changeover.  I still have my copy!  The old man’s name is Carmody Braque.

  10. 10
    KatherineB says:

    I’ve been wanting to get hold of this book, The Changeover,  again for a year now, I still revisit childhood favorites to see how they come across again now I’m older and less likely to skim…
    The scenes where she goes through her change to come into her power were wonderful. I also loved that Lolly had wild hair curly hair from some possible Maori ancestor, and that Sorenson was a male witch! And the way she stamped Braque to do what he had been doing to her little brother was sweet, sweet and unviolent revenge. Lovely romantic stuff too with Lolly and Sorenson.

  11. 11
    Chicklet says:

    Yep, it’s totes The Changeover! One of my favorite books ever. I think it’s out of print, but if you can search it out online, it’s v.v. worth it.

  12. 12
    Heather says:

    That’s it!  That’s the book!  Thank you all so much!  I bow to the great knowledge of the Bitchery.

  13. 13
    jessica says:

    I love love loved The Changeover although I didn’t even remember what it was about.  I still have my copy—I should re-read it.  And “Sister of the Quints” which I loved at the same time of life :)

  14. 14
    Saam says:

    Love love The Changeover! Matter of fact I can see my copy from where I sit. Will have to reread it. Very cool book.

    I also enjoyed The Tricksters by the same author. Three brothers (triplets?) Join a NZ family to celebrate Christmas, with strange things occuring.

  15. 15
    Beth says:

    Dammit, I was all excited that I actually knew one for once!
    Instead I will just feel patriotically proud of Margaret Mahy. Her poetry for kids is awesome too – Bubble Trouble is a triumph of wordplay.

  16. 16
    thirstygirl says:

    Yeah- I immediately thought The Changeover, Mahy was a MAJOR feature of my youth then YA years.

    Get your hands on her books and scatter then around your house for any children who may come over- she’s written fantastic books for all ages- one of my favourites for the tweens is The Great Chewing Gum Rescue which is a collection of fantastical short stories for 8-12 year-olds. Lovelovelove Margaret Mahy. She’s been a huge force in getting kiwi kids to love reading.

  17. 17
    kate r says:

    Margaret Mahy is a freaking genius. She can write any kind of book she wants. I loved reading her absurd kids books aloud to my boys (like Blood and Thunder Adventure) because her language was so delicious.

  18. 18
    Lovecow2000 says:

    Awesome book! I read it ages ago and lost it.  I got a copy of it last year from I’m never, never, never giving it up.  : )

  19. 19
    mirain says:

    I love Mahy, especially Changeover and the Tricksters! Most of her books fro the 80s aren’t in print now, but they went through enough editions that you can find them pretty easily & cheaply on amazon. She also a more recent one from a male POV called Alchemy which should be available new or from the library.

  20. 20
    sheriguy says:

    Changeover… that brings back such great memories of sitting on the football field and reading with my best friends. I am going to have to find this one for my permanent library

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