“I hadn’t given away my secret because I didn’t even know how to say the secret out loud. No one did. Instead, they hung on to the lie that the kids who died were actually their kids and not just convincing replacements. That way, they never had to ask what happened to the real ones.
That was the code of the town-you didn’t talk about it, you didn’t ask. But Tate had asked anyway. She’d had the guts to say what everyone else was thinking-that her true, real sister had been replaced by something eerie and wrong. Even my own family had never been honest to come right out and say that.”
Mackie is a changeling, a replacement for a stolen baby. His family, along with the entire town of Gentry, would like to continue acting as though this never happened, as though the town’s children did not sometimes disappear from their cribs, to be replaced with darker and more unnatural beings. Of course, Mackie wishes he could ignore it, too, and that he could just be normal and play his guitar and never have to worry about how blood and metal make his head spin. But when his friend (and love interest) loses her baby sister to Gentry’s underworld, he knows it’s time that someone acted. He knows it’s time to stop keeping secrets.
Oh, I am so weak for paranormal stories, especially when they involve little children. And young adult fiction is the perfect place for finding these stories, as the gore and shockingly sad endings are usually rare! This particular book was a dark and interesting diversion, written by a Colorado author. I’d been wanting to read it for months. You’ll like the eerie premise: as the story unfolds, you’ll learn that the town of Gentry is at the mercy of two feuding spirit sisters, and that townspeople have mutely accepted the child-switching as a price to pay for their relative good fortune. It’s quite creepy, a bit gruesome (but blood makes me dizzy, anyway), and an original take on the changeling story. Readers looking for romance will find it, readers looking to ignore it will find that possible, too.
I have a single small issue with the book. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t bring it up, but I found it quite jarring. At two points in the text, young women are referred to as “tart” and “hookers”, and you know what? It is absolutely not ok. This is the kind of language that perpetuates violence against women, and it was a great disappointment to see it used unnecessarily in the story.
Aside from that, this is a ghoulish and creative tale of a cursed town and the dark forces at play beneath it.
Author’s website: http://brennayovanoff.com/
Yovanoff, Brenna. The Replacement. Razor Bill, New York, 2010. 343 pp. Ages 15 and up.
If you liked this book, you should check out Chime, another paranormal fiction book with a similar premise. And then Half World, and then there’s Libba Bray’s new book (it looks so good!!) called The Diviners, which totally looks like it has some good creepiness in it. Or, how about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? Or any book out there with a dark gray cover and crows, or girls in puffy dresses, or blood on the cover-this is a hugely popular genre right now (lucky for me!) Oh, and there’s Huntress by Malinda Lo; it’s a small part of the plot, but there’s a changeling there, too.