Author: Philippa Gregory
Retail Price: £9.99 Trade Paperback
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
UK Publication Date: 10th May 2012
The year is 1453 and all signs point to it being the end of the world.
Accused of heresy and expelled from his monastery, handsome seventeen-year-old, Luca Vero, is recruited by a mysterious stranger to record the end of times across Europe. Commanded by sealed orders, Luca is sent to map the fears of Christendom, and travel to the very frontier of good and evil.
Seventeen-year-old Isolde, a Lady Abbess, is trapped in a nunnery to prevent her claiming her rich inheritance. As the nuns in her care are driven made by strange visions, walking in their sleep and showing bleeding wounds, Luca is sent to investigate and all the evidence points to Isolde’s criminal guilt. Outside in the yard they are building a pyre to burn her for witchcraft…
As a big fan of Philippa Gregory’s adult novels, I was very excited by the prospect of reading Changeling, her first foray into writing young adult fiction. It certainly did not disappoint; I found it an engaging page-turner. Set in Italy in 1453, the story concerns the young teenagers, Luca and Isolde. Orphaned Luca, who grew up in a monastery, is recruited by a mysterious stranger to travel across Christendom to uncover the greatest fears of the medieval world – dark magic, werewolves and satanic forces. His travels lead him to an ill-fated nunnery, where he meets beautiful young Isolde, who stands accused of witchcraft. Luca must attempt to unearth the mysterious events at the nunnery.
I really enjoyed the element of mystery in Changeling; at points, it felt like a historical crime fiction novel. I found myself engrossed in the story, keen to know the next twist of the plot. Luca and his sidekicks, Brother Peter and the irrepressible Freize, felt somewhat like a modern-day crime-fighting team. Luca, with his superior intellect and thirst for discovery, reminded me slightly of a medieval, teenaged Sherlock Holmes.
I really enjoyed following the young characters, Luca, Isolde, Freize and Ishraq as the story developed. In a way, it felt like a right-of-passage novel; in the beginning, Luca and Isolde are both naive innocents and we watch them mature as they are forced to confront the dangers and complexities of the adult world. The relationships between the main characters were believably developed, with light comic relief provided by way of young Freize, Luca’s cheeky, man-of-the-world servant. The introduction of various romantic elements also hooked me into the story and made me want to read more.
If I have any criticism, it would only be that the novel seemed to almost divide in the middle into two stories, which made it feel slightly disjointed in some ways. However although this made it seem somewhat episodic, it did not detract from my enjoyment of the book overall. This is the first in what promises to be an exciting new series – the Order of Darkness novels – and I’m already looking forward to reading the next.
I give this book 5 out of 5.
About the author
Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the internationally bestselling novel The Other Boleyn Girl. Now she is looking at the family that preceded the Tudors: the magnificent Plantaganets, a family of complex rivalries, loves, and hatreds.
Her other great interest is the charity that she founded nearly twenty years ago: Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells for the primary schools of this poor African country. A former student of Sussex university, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University, her love for history and commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire.
Some other titles by this author:
- Wideacre trilogy
- The Wideacre (1987)
- The Favoured Child (1989)
- Meridon (1990)
- Tudor series
- The Other Boleyn Girl (2001)
- The Queen’s Fool (2003)
- The Virgin’s Lover (2004)
- The Constant Princess (2005)
- The Boleyn Inheritance (2006)
- The Wise Woman (2006)
- The Other Queen (2008)
- Earthly Joys
- Earthly Joys (1998)
- Virgin Earth (1999)
- The Cousins’ War
- The White Queen (2009)
- The Red Queen (2010)
- The Lady of the Rivers (2011)
- The White Princess (2005)
If you like this book, you may also like:
- Emerald by Karen Wallace
- Burn Mark by Laura Powell
- Brides Farewell by Meg Rosoff
- Prisoner of the Inquistion by Theresa Breslin
Review by Sam