This originally ran over at IFryMineinButter.com.
I was an avid fan of anything suspenseful when I was a teenager. Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Dean Koontz novels, Hitchcock movies, I soaked them up like lemonade. Once I had read through a book, chances are I would read it again immediately thereafter, in order to actually comprehend its pages sans hyperventilation. I entered into those narratives with high expectations, but not so for Stranger with My Face, by Lois Duncan. It was the first novel of hers that I read, and it spawned my love for all things fantastic. I think it’s fair to say that I read Ursula K. Le Guin because I read Duncan first, and yes, I understand how different these two writers are.
Laurie, our intrepid protagonist, has gotten in trouble with her friends who witness her out when she’s said she was home sick.
“Come off it Laurie,” Gordon said. “You weren’t in bed any more than I was.”
“I had flu,” I said. “If you don’t believe me—”
“I don’t,” he said. His voice was flat and hard. “Because I saw you.”
No, this is not the stuff of Le Guin, and it is full of the body consciousness of a young teenage girl, but back then, that resonated with me so acutely that I missed most of it and just read for the plot points: newfound identical twin, astral projection, and sinister machinations. Nobody was colder or more calculated than Lia, the 11-year-old me insisted. Laurie just had to figure out a way to conquer Lia!
I was hooked with the creepy stalking, the sense Laurie had that she was being watched. And I think I read the entire book in less than three hours. When Laurie astral projected my jaw dropped. Those nuns had left out leaving one’s corporeal body? I’d been duped!
This novel is one big trope: evil twin sister, the perils of adopted kids not knowing biological families, the handsome almost unattainable boyfriend who gets killed off in some way that’s the protagonist’s fault.