This book is about a teenager, Mary Magdalene, who begins hearing a voice in her head that tells her to kill people. The voice first tells her to set a fire in the garage that is the studio of the artist-father of her friend who has been very abusive to her friend. She sets the fire but drops the lighter, her mother’s lighter. The garage burns and the father dies. The friend is saved from his abusive father but he finds the lighter that Maggie has left behind.
Maggie begins seeing a psychologist for problems she is having at home. She lives with her mother and step-father. Her mother was pregnant with her when her mother married her step-father. Her step-father owns a funeral home and they live above it. Her step-father is harry and Maggie really loves Harry. She has never met her real father, Lonnie Croft, who is in prison for killing his mother.
Maggie has few friends at school. She is friends with Abigail, who is smart. Her mother is a teacher. Maggie has a crush on a new boy at school and so does Abigail.
Maggie goes hiking on a mountain with her friend whose father she killed in the fire. They meet a man on Sullivan’s mountain, Mr. Sullivan, who is rather mean to them. The voice in Maggie’s head tells her to kill him. The voice is very insistent and causes her a lot of pain. She goes back to the top of the mountain and pushes him off. Then she goes back to her friend and they go home.
The boy tells Maggie that he knows that she killed his father because he found the lighter which has her mother’s initials. He also suspects that she killed the man on the mountain. Maggie denies killing the man on the mountain and tricks the boy into giving her back the lighter.
Abigail asks the boy both she and Maggie have the crush on to go to the dance with her. He says no. Maggie is in charge of refreshments. The boy comes to sit with Maggie. He asks her to go to the movies with him. She says yes. But first he has to meet her parents. He comes over and meets them. They approve. Abigail is upset that Maggie is going out with him. Maggie and the boy go to the movies. The boy tries to take advantage of Maggie. Maggie becomes upset and calls her parents to come and get her. She calls Abigail to tell her about the disastrous date. Abigail tells her it is her own fault, that she should have “set boundaries” with Jacob. Abigail goes out with Jacob. The same thing happens.
Maggie is babysitting for a small child. She adores this little girl and has babysat for her before. But this one night, the little girl begins to cry and will not stop crying. The voice in her head tells her to throw the baby down the stairs. Maggie calls harry to come over and help her with the baby. She is scared because of the voice and because her head hurts so bad. Harry stays with her and gets the baby calmed down, but Maggie does not babysit again.
Then when Maggie is learning to drive, she and Harry are out driving. Maggie is driving when there is a man on a bicycle on the side of the road. The voice in her head tells her to hit him. The pain in her head becomes almost unbearable. She starts to panic. She eventually makes it home but narrowly misses hitting the man. She gives up driving for a while.
Maggie continues to see her psychologist but still does not tell him about the voices in her head. They talk about her nightmares and the fact that sometimes she sleeps in the caskets.
Maggie is walking home from her appointment with her psychologist one day when she sees the retarded woman Patty Ann. A man has smashed Patty Ann’s tricycle to pieces with a baseball bat because she was slowing his progress on the street. The voice in her head tells Maggie to pick up a rock and put it in her backpack and hit the man in the head with it and she does. Patty Ann witnesses this. Maggie throws the backpack away in the dumpster. The man’s body is found. Patty Ann goes on television to describe the person who helped her and protected her from the man who destroyed her tricycle. She makes up a description. She is holding the backpack. Maggie’s secret is safe.
Maggie gets her mother to take her to the prison where her real father is so that she can meet him. He tells her that his mother heard voices that told her to kill people and that he was only defending himself when he killed his mother. Maggie thinks that her hearing voices is inherited. Lonnie Croft gives Maggie a picture that he has painted.
Then tragedy happens. Harry has a heart attack and dies suddenly. Maggie is crushed. She attempts suicide and is hospitalized for depression. She is under the care of a psychiatrist for several months. She makes friends with a young girl who has been living with a loving foster family but is scheduled to be released to an abusive biological family. The voice tells Maggie to kill the biological parents and her head begins to hurt. But Maggie decides to just burn down their house so they don’t have a place to live and then the girl will have to go back to her foster family. The killing will stop. The voice has stopped. Maggie is free.
This was a strange book. It was a young adult book. Maggie gets away with three murder, albeit three people who were really rotten people, but one shouldn’t be going around killing people. It’s odd the way she was hearing the voice of this man telling her not just to kill bad people but also to kill random people like the baby and the man on the bicycle when she was driving. So I can see where she would be scared. I would have hoped she could have talked to her doctor about those occurrences at least but she didn’t. She seemed like such a lonely girl. I felt sorry for her. She was lost in her thoughts so much. It was an interesting book, though.