The Replacement – Brenna Yovanoff Book Review

I was missing some key ingredient that would make me as whole and as normal as everyone else. I looked down at the grass so I wouldn’t have to look at Roswell. Then I told him the story in pieces. The open window, the screen, the crib and how Emma wasn’t afraid of me, how she reached her hand in through the bars. How, on some fundamental level, I was nothing but a parasite, the same way cowbirds and cuckoos were.

Mackie Doyle is a replacement – a fairy child left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago, to replace the baby when it was stolen away by the fey. So though he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie’s real home is the fey world of tunnels and black, murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. Now, because his fey blood gives him fatal allergies to iron, blood and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world. Mackie would give anything just to be normal, to live quietly amongst humans, practice his bass guitar and spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably back home to the fey underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem, where he must face down the dark creatures, rescue the child, and find his rightful place – in our world, or theirs.

I’ve read this book quite late this year and due to a cover mistake, I’ve thought this was the same author who wrote the Shiver series. This book didn’t quite give me the same satisfaction the other novel has. The stories of Changelings – babies switched at birth – has been used through folklore and even contemporary prose to tell cautionary tales of what happens when you don’t watch over your baby 100% of the time. See also:

The Changeling – Victor LaValle

The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood

Mackie Doyle is such a changeling. Living in the puritan town of Gentry (interesting name), he must hide his true nature or be burned by a raging mob who does not take to “otherness” quite well.

Mackie Doyle has had to follow strict rules his entire life in order to avoid unwanted attention. Although deathly allergic to iron (even the smell of it in spilled blood) and unable to set foot on unconsecrated ground, Mackie is a changeling that has, by the love of his family, managed to pass for human. But Mackie knows that something has changed for the worse, as he grows weaker and increasingly sensitive to the iron around him. Mackie is dying, and when his sister Emma barters for medicine that could save her brother’s life, Mackie discovers that there is a hidden world beneath Gentry, filled with rotting, living dead creatures with jagged teeth and cruel beauty. This world has been taking children from the town for decades, and when one last little girl is taken, the baby sister of a girl in Mackie’s class, he must decide whether or not he will continue in the silent tradition of the people of Gentry, or to embrace his nature and win the girl back.

The mood of the book is eerie, the main character reminded me of a lost vampire afraid of so many things and pale like a true Goth. His interactions with others reek of secrets untold and teen angst. It’s a great book for teenagers – embracing the “be different” route so beloved by so many teenagers in a world where conformity and blending in is the key to survival.

The story itself takes a while to take off (more than half the book), but when it does, it’s quite interesting, with many monsters, good dialogue and quite some interesting deaths.

All in all 3/5

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