Book reviews, musings and waffle from a British lit addict

Review: ‘The Replacement’ by Brenna Yovanoff

Date finished: 07 July 2011

Rating: 3 stars

Format: Paperback

Source: Leant to me by my mother (yes, really…)

Genre: YA fiction

Published: by Simon & Schuster Childrens Books in January 2011

The Synopsis (taken from Waterstones.com)

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.

The Review

I’ve dawdled terribly over this review but I couldn’t tell you the reason why. Actually, I did enjoy this book. It didn’t set my world on fire and I will be returning the copy to my mum but it was a nice read.

The story is a modern take on the mythical changelings, the offspring of magical creatures who secretly replace human children with their own. It’s a reasonable attempt at modernisation that doesn’t sacrifice all of the traditional elements, for example, the characters hang iron scissors over their childrens cradles to deter those that would steal their children. Add in some allergies to iron and hallowed ground, a rock club and some kooky friends and you’ve got yourself some passable YA!

Mackie, however, didn’t always endear himself to me – he’s dying in the human world and I’m sure that’s very unpleasant for him but does he really have to go on about it so much? He also has a tendency to mention how alone he is and how there’s nobody he can talk about his situation with all the time. At the beginning of the book, this kind of introspective narration that helped set up the characters and a tone for the mysterious town of Gentry.

I really enjoyed the first third of the book and the last third of the book but in the middle my attention waned slightly as it became a little too teen-angsty for my tastes. I know that’s a risk with any YA but there was less story progression and more and more teens with issues. Once the true underworld of Gentry revealed itself, however, the plot really picked up and I ploughed on at a much faster pace.

Some of the more “sinister” members of the cast reminded me a little of The Morrigan from Christopher Moore’s A Dirty Job (that I reviewed here) – all flaily limbs and decomposition! After all, how frightened can you be of a half-decayed maniacal child in a frilly dress?! It was, I hope, tongue-in-cheek because the answer? Not very…

Overall: A creepy story with a hefty dose of people cavorting around graveyards that is worth spending a gloomy night reading. I wouldn’t necessarily urge you all to rush off right this very second and find a copy but, if you see one in a library one rainy morning, it’ll suit you just fine!

If you fancy a more ‘serious’ and haunting book about changelings, I would absolutely recommend The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue – I read it years ago but still remember it as a fantastic story!