Monday 2 November 2015

Review: The Changeling by Helen Falconer

The Changeling by Helen Falconer book cover

Title: The Changeling
Author: Helen Falconer
Series: The Changeling, #1
Format: eARC, kindly provided by
the publishers via Netgalley for
review. (Thank you!!)
Publisher: Penguin Random House
/ Corgi Childrens
My rating: 4.5 / 5

Add to Goodreads

Some of us are born to be magic.

Aoife is an ordinary teenager, hanging out with her childhood friend Carla, putting up with school. The worst she has to contend with is that the boy of Carla’s dreams is trying to get off with her instead.

But then, after chasing a lost little girl no one seems to be able to see, Aoife starts to develop mysterious powers. Eventually her parents confess that she isn’t their real daughter. Their human child was stolen by the fairies, and Aoife is the changeling left behind in her place.

Shocked and disorientated, Aoife turns to Shay, the taciturn farmer’s son who is the only person who might believe her story. Together, they embark on a dangerous journey, which takes them deep into the underworld and changes everything they thought they knew about fairies.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

Wow, The Changeling completely took me by surprise! As you may know, I’m Irish, and I usually approach books set in Ireland with an unhealthy dose of apprehension. I have this terrible reflex that ignites my overly critical side, and I firmly blame by English and Irish classes from back in my school days. Being forced to read books that I had very little interest in definitely didn’t help me in the long run! It was with this worry I began reading The Changeling, and I am SO GLAD I can say that I loved it.

What I Liked

Aoife (pronounced Ee-faa) and Shay: In general, all the characters were really good, but Aoife and Shay were completely adorable. They were typical teens right from the beginning of the book and I couldn’t help but like both of them. I loved that Aoife’s human life was established, along with her friends and family, before the main fairy elements were introduced. It added so much to the story to see over Aoife’s shoulder as she’s discovering who she really is. It was so nice to see a friendship and trust that build up between Aoife and Shay, and how that carried on throughout the rest of the story.

The setting: The book is set in Mayo, and I loved that the rural country village vibe was captured and described so realistically. It was easy to imagine Kilduff and I really liked that the close-knit community vibe shone through.

The Irish folklore, but particularly the Banshee: FINALLY I’ve read a book that’s got the banshee right! I’ve grown up with stories of the bean sídhe for as long as I can remember, and it’s such a glorious feeling to read an authentic spin on the tale for a change. And Tir na nÓg! How could I not love that Tir na nÓg and the lands of the underworld was included!? It was described so vividly and beautifully, and it was so easy to visualise. I could see a few similarities from Oisín and Niamh’s tale running through the book, and I loved it!

What I Didn’t Like

Inconsistent pacing: The only issue I had was a dip in pacing around 55-ish to 75-ish%. The book is split into two parts, and I loved every word in Book 1. Book 2 seemed to be continuing on in a similar fashion, but after a short while it seemed like the story stalled, and it didn’t pick up again for a good 20%. My attention did wander quite a bit, but once I got through that, I really enjoyed the ending. (I may have had tears streaming down my face at one stage, but it was completely fabulous!)

Overall, The Changeling was such a pleasant surprise and exceeded all my expectations. I’d highly recommend it to anyone that’s interested in Irish fairy folklore. It’s a highly addictive and a fabulous story, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book.

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