Saturday, August 25, 2012

Book Review: The Replacement

This one came up on my radar a while back, I believe I saw an interview with the author over on The Enchanted Inkpot, but really it was the cover that caught my attention again when I came across it at the local library. So that was it, I found a book in the library and simply read it, so onto the review!

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

It's certainly an eye-catching cover, it's practically everything you wouldn't put over a baby carriage in real life, but the scene is described and explained in the book so it makes sense as a cover (and if you know your folklore then the reason there are a bunch of metal objects, including a horseshoe, over a baby's bed should be abundantly clear from the first glance).

Summary: The town of Gentry is like many other small towns in some ways but very unlike them in others, a fact that non-human Mackie knows all too well. He's a replacement, a changeling left in the crib of a human child and raised by the child's family who are all too aware that he is not the baby they gave birth to and the world of iron and churches is slowly killing him. And so it's when he's becoming weaker and weaker that he learns of the underground world he came from and he becomes drawn in when he hears of another child taken and is determined to help save her. 

The Good: As I've said before, since America doesn't really have a mythology to call it's own (if you're not Native American anyway) so I'm always curious to see how authors try to create one, oftentimes drawing on fables and fairy tales from western Europe, and it worked very well here. I'm assuming it's set in the US, since Halloween is mentioned often and I'm told that outside the US no one celebrates Halloween, but it uses a bit of Irish myth and a lot of European fairy tale folklore to create a setting that works very well. But, even better than the setting in my opinion, is that none of the multiple side characters in a book is an idiot. They all have a pretty good idea what is going on before Machie confides in them  and it was those moments which really made the setting work, there are few things I find as infuriating than a setting which does not influence it's characters or characters who never once think about how strange the world around them is. 

The Bad: The story is a bit slow to get going and Mackie isn't the most adventurous protagonist I've seen in situations like this (it probably doesn't help that I read another book later that has a similar mix of mythologies but with an more interesting lead, it won't come up for a while but people should be able to figure it out when it does). It really is a strong story overall though, apart from a bit of complaining about how the pacing wasn't perfect, and there was a subplot with Mackie and music which I felt like was dropped partway though, I have nothing really worth writing about.

Again, not much to say to wrap up here. It was solid and good, even if it wasn't the most original story it did have some original twists to it which made it work. Think I saw another book by the same author a few days ago but I believe this book is a stand alone, I honestly can't think how a sequel would work since it all wrapped up so neatly in the end. 

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