Friday, September 2, 2016

Book Review: Changeling

Today's review is on Changeling by Philippa Gregory
Philippa Gregory is known for her historical novels, such as The Other Boleyn Girl, and this is the first book in a YA series called Order of Darkness. I enjoyed this book, but it ended up being kind of different from what I was expecting.

Changeling takes place in Italy, 1453 and it tells the story of Luca, who has recently been kicked out of the monastery for heresy because he dared to question one of the relics that they have. He is then recruited to join the Order because there are weird things going and they want someone to go and investigate these events and whether it truly means that the end of world is near. His first assignment is at an abbey, where weird things are happening to the nuns that lived there. All the evidence for these strange occurrences all seem to point to the new Lady Abbess, Isolde, who was forced to into the position after her father died. Is Isolde guilty of witchcraft or is there something else going on at the abbey?

Let me start by saying that the synopsis on the back of this book is kind of misleading because it gave the impression that there would be werewolves and magic, but there isn't any of that, so I was kind of disappointed because I thought there was going to be some fantasy in this novel.

There is an overarching plot that will continue throughout the series, Luca investigating strange occurrences for the Order, however there were two successive minor plots that take place. The first one is the whole situation at the abbey, and the second one is after those events. I felt like the second plot point was disjointed from the rest of the book and that it was just shoved in there so that a page requirement could be met. It was still interesting, but it didn't fit within the whole framework of the novel.

The events that take place at the abbey were interesting and the author gives enough information about the religious climate of this time. The end of this plot point had a surprising outcome, even though in the back of my mind I kind of knew what might happen, it was still a shock. The second plot point was where I expected the fantasy element to start coming through in the work, but it didn't, there is no fantasy whatsoever in this book.

I really enjoyed getting to know the main characters in this novel, Luca and Isolde are both compelling characters and I kind of want them to get together eventually. Some other characters that are kind of main characters were Fierze, who doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut but he does give some comic relief to the novel, Brother Peter, the sober scribe, and Ishraq, Isolde's best friend since birth. They were all really interesting and even the villains in this novel were pretty well-written.

I loved the historical and religious details, Philippa Gregory definitely does what she does best by trying to make the setting as historically accurate as possible. She paints a very accurate description of the atmosphere of superstition during the Middle Ages, as well as a description of the Catholic culture that was prevalent in Italy.

While I liked this book, I'm not exactly in a rush to read the rest of the series, maybe if I see them at a library I will pick them up, but it was just an okay read.

I am giving this book 3.5/5 Stars because even though I liked reading this book, I was disappointed that there wasn't any fantasy in it, which I had been led to believe would be in this book.

Happy Reading,
Janelle L. C.

P.S. If you have any book recommendations let me know and I will check them out! :) 

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