Thursday, November 3, 2011

Stolen Children and Black Eyed Imposters: My Review of "The Replacement" by Brenna Yovanoff

“So, when you talk about feeding the town, you mean murder.”
“Oh, no, no. Not murder – sacrifice. And the cost is small. It hardly even qualifies as hardship, as it only comes in sevens and the town grows strong on it for another handful of years, and when the town is well, so are we.”
The Replacement, Brenna Yovanoff

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

It took me awhile to get into this book , which surprised me. I generally love those stories about the fae – from Lost Girl to Tithe, I have a fascination with the bisected world of the fae – the summer and winter courts, and different types of fae. And what counts as fae – which depends greatly on who you ask: gnomes and goblins, or elves and Morrigans, with some including Banshees and others excluding Nymphs. It goes on and on, creatures of such varied personalities and appearances and yet, all tied together under the title of fae.

And then there are Changelings.

Traditionally, a changeling is a sick fae baby – or an old fae, depending on the source – who is left in place of a healthy baby. The healthy baby is then taken by the faes and – again depending on the source you’re looking at – eaten, sacrificed, kept as a pet, etc.

The Changeling is supposed to soon die after replacement.

Knowing this, I can assume you understand that The Replacement is about a Changeling. A Changeling named Mackie. He was left in place of a blue eyed baby, the only one who realized this his older sister. He grew up and didn’t die, falling into life with a human family, with no memories of the fae world. Until a little girl – his friend’s little sister, disappears, and all hell comes crashing down around the residents of the sleepy little town.

First off, that cover is amazing, isn’t it? It was done very well and hooked me the second I saw it. I have the audiobook version – a great addition to a long drive to Muskoka, and yet it still seemed to take forever. Since doing the Windsor-Toronto commute for three years during law school, I got into audiobooks – I started with one I borrowed from my friend Smithy, then one from my friend, Smelly and then started to grab my own since they made the time go by so much faster. But this one … this one took forever.

And it is a good story, so I am not sure why.

Mackie can be irritating at times – he seems clueless to life, and very slow to grasp things, but he has such a strong moral center that encompasses him, that being inside his head ends up being an enjoyable experience – because when faced with horrors, he steps up. He may not come around right away, but he will try and make things right,.

He is not, alas, my favourite.

That distinction lies on the Morrigan – the leader of the Summer Court, those who soak up adoration and love as opposed to blood. She is a petit littledwarfish creature who is childlike except for her huge, sharp pointed teeth. Teeth she can use to snap off the head of usurpers, but instead she just seems to flash pearly smiles at everyone.

But it’s her backstory – the fall of her from a Goddess who sat n the side of battlefields and dictated who would live and who would die – to a Queen of a hidden kingdom, only rising to the surface for concerts, Halloween and The Witness, is fascinating. The fact that Yovanoff leaves most of it to the imagination and jus tickles you with bits and pieces of the story is even better. In the character of the Morrigan, Yovanoff has managed to really craft a hook into her readers. A hook that may span other books the way that the main character can’t.

All in all, the book was slow, but enjoyable. The worlds created by Yovanoff that describe the good fae and the bad fae are dynamic and real – you can almost smell the rot off the murdered babies. It’s a great descriptive work and I recommend it for one of those long drives! 

Up next for Review: Raised by Wolves

Read if you Liked:
  • Tithe by Holly Black
  • The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Yovanoff’s Website:


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