Title: The Stepdaughter
Author: Carol Ellis
Published: April 1993
Tagline: Daddy’s little darling . . . is dead.
Description: Having a new father can be murder.
He’s kind and thoughtful. He wants them to be a happy family. He’s her stepfather.
And he may be a murderer.
From the day Livvie meets him, she knows she’s not going to like her new stepfather. But when she tells her mother and her best friend, they both think she’s crazy not to like such a wonderful man.
Then Livvie thinks she sees her stepfather’s picture on TV – wanted by the police for a murder he committed fifteen years before. The murder of his wife . . . and his stepdaughter.
Is Livvie crazy?
. . . Or is her stepfather?
Hoo, boy, that’s . . . a lot of “crazy”s we’re throwing around, huh? Not thrilled about that.
I remember this book pretty well. I was eleven, almost twelve when it was published, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, this book is basically the movie The Stepfather. Honestly, the book should have been titled The Stepfather, and I’m willing to bet the only reason it’s called The Stepdaughter is so that it wouldn’t be confused with that movie. But it is. It is totally The Stepfather. It also used to be one of my favorite Point Horrors. I’ve read this book multiple times. I don’t think the ableism regarding mental health is actually as bad as the back-of-book description makes it sound, but it has been a very long time since I’ve picked this one up, so I guess we’ll find out! [Note from Future Me: *stares bleakly into the abyss*]
Also, because it is titled The Stepdaughter instead of The Stepfather, I remember when I bought it assuming the stepdaughter was the murderer. (I don’t know if you can read the newspaper headline in the cover art, but it says “Police search for stepdaughter-killer” which my tween brain insisted meant the stepdaughter was the killer.) I was very surprised to discover it was actually about a girl who suspects her stepfather is a killer.