For a long time, faerie changelings were used to explain any children that were autistic, disabled or... just different. One such child crops up in modern times in "The Replacement." Brenna Yovanoff's debut spins up a much darker, less sexy vision of faeries than most urban fantasy today -- a dark, jagged, earth-scented story in an unnerving town.
Mackie Doyle is a changeling who was placed in a stolen human baby's crib -- and though he lives as a human, his inability to tolerate iron (even in blood) threatens to expose him. But after a little girl is kidnapped, Mackie is pulled into the world of the supernatural -- he is given a hawthorn extract to counteract the iron, and invited down to the underground lair of the childish Morrigan.
But there is another faerie force ruling Gentry: a cold, malignant Lady who demands blood sacrifice, and has the little girl in her grasp. And as he struggles to live a "normal" human life with his best buddy Roswell, sister Emma and the beautiful, volatile Tate (sister of the stolen kid), Mackie begins to realize that he and his friends may be the only ones who will stand against the Lady.
I adore faerie tales, but often the faerie creatures are too "human," or they don't feel powerful and majestic. "The Replacement" is not one of those -- it's filled with haunted corners, the smell of earth, moss and decay, and the terror of sharp teeth and flurries of dead leaves. You are never safe, because something might be lurking in the bushes behind you.
Now, the first third of the story is rather slow, as Yovanoff builds up lots of foreshadowing... and Mackie gripes a lot about how awful his life is. But after he uses the hawthorn, both the story and Mackie perk up. Yovanoff's writing is haunting and filled with some shocking twists (Mackie's mom's part in all this), and she has a talent for evoking Mackie's faerie heritage in little ways (a ceiling fan makes "shadows like dragonfly wings").
One thing that perplexed me was Roswell. It seems to be implied at times that his family is somehow special or unusual... but it's just sort of dropped.
Mackie's complaining was rather annoying in the first part of the book, but I found myself liking him after he encounters the Morrigan. He begins to truly struggle to strike a balance between his human life and his fae blood, and it's pretty obvious that he can't be fully one or the other (even with the hawthorn).
But even the less developed characters are brilliant -- the loving sister Emma, the perky pal Roswell, the fiery love-interest Tate, and even Mackie's mom (who plays an integral part in the story). But the best part is how well-rounded the faeries themselves are -- they're strange and alien, some wanting love and some others cold and cruel.
"The Replacement" is a hauntingly vivid, dark faerie tale, and despite a slow start it's a truly beautiful piece of work. Keep an eye on Brenna Yovanoff.
- Audio CD
- Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (19 March 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1469232650
- ISBN-13: 978-1469232652
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.5 x 17.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 136 g
- Customer Reviews: 137 customer ratings