The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

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The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Tremendously creepy take on the changeling legend with a very attractive central character and a contemporary yet timeless feel. Fans of supernatural fiction - romantic and horror - will thoroughly enjoy it.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: January 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1847388396

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Mackie lives in Gentry, a prosperous but quiet town. People are good and kind and the trials and tribulations of other places have traditionally been absent from Gentry. Recently, however, things have felt less secure. People are getting nervous and it just won't stop raining. Mackie isn't doing too well either. His allergies to blood and steel are getting worse and worse and his health is beginning to fail. It's getting more and more difficult to avoid the truth...

... because Mackie is different.

He knows it. His parents know it. His sister knows it. His friends know it - especially his best friend Roswell, the most loyal friend a person could ever have. But nobody will say it. Mackie is a Replacement, a fey, a changeling. And changelings don't live long in the human world. But despite Mackie's obvious suffering, the issue is buried, always skirted around and never truly faced. It's the great taboo, the unspoken pact: Gentry's prosperity is maintaned by it, but its children pay the price. And then another child dies. But Tate won't keep quiet, won't keep the pact. She knows it wasn't her sister in that coffin and she wants Mackie to help her find the truth.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Replacement. Mackie's a tremendously attractive central character. Because he's a changeling, he feels isolated and under constant pressure and it's made him painfully shy and introspective. You genuinely feel for him and he speaks for many teenagers, not just supernatural ones, as he deals with insecurity and self-loathing. The first third of the book is all allusion, and there's a real sense of menace and tension as the plot builds up to the supernatural reveals and the journey Mackie must take if he's ever going to find a place in which he belongs. The scenes with the fey owe more to Tim Burton than they do to many other books in this overheated genre too - they're alluring but horrific, and I thought the underground world was marvellously realised.

I have two moans - neither are about the novel, but both are about the book. The cover blurb gives far too much away and a great deal of the menace and tension of the the first third of the story was diminished by it. The spoiler is the biggest no-no of all when reviewing books for people who haven't read them yet. Surely, the cover blurb should follow the same rule? I was peeved. The other is purely subjective, but I much prefer the US cover art. This is unusual, because cover styles for young adult books are often quite different each side of the pond and I usually think the UK gets the best of the deal. We go arty, they go cool-looking teen. It's the other way around with The Replacement.

Aside from these non-writing nitpicks, I loved The Replacement. The changeling myth is always an appealing motif, speaking as it does to our ancient history and our deepest fears, and Yovanoff taps into these themes with great skill. I loved that she chose a male central character for this deeply romantic book and I loved the way she blended horror, romance and teen introspection to such striking effect. I also appreciated the genuine and well-researched folkloric background.

More like this, please (sans the spoilers in the blurb)!

My thanks to the good people at Simon & Schuster for sending the book.

If they like the changeling theme, they could also look at Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide by William Hussey, Selina Penaluna by Jan Page or Changeling by Steve Feasey. And they shouldn't miss the fabulous Cold Tom by Sally Prue. And, before I go, what about Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff?

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Buy The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff at


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