by Brenna Yovanoff
Mackie Doyle's family loyally covers for the fact that he isn't human. He's a changeling - the "replacement" for the real Mackie Doyle, who died years ago. He's allergic to most metal (especially iron), cannot enter hallowed ground and has always had a fragile constitution. Not being able to enter churchyards poses a special problem, as his father is the local minister, but he covers for his son by building an outbuilding for children's programs just off the edge of the consecrated property. I loved the sense of the open secret which is at the heart of this book. Everyone in town knows. Nobody talks about it. Mackie's mother knows for certain the fae are real - she herself had been stolen by them once, but managed to escape, something which she does not ever care to discuss. She feels Mackie's being sent to her is a "punishment" for removing herself from the faery world. Mackie's best ally is his sister, Emma, who frequently goes to extreme lengths to protect her brother.
It turns out that the town of Gentry has long ago struck a bargain with the underworld - increased wealth and prosperity, and an unusual amount of good luck for the occassional human sacrifice. The Fae -- duplicitous, grotesque, weird and scary, seem to do very, very little to hold up their end of the bargain. They most certainly collect on their blood debt - kidnapping a human child every few years, and replacing it with an ailing castoff child of their own. But the town of Gentry has been financially hurting for years, and is now dominated by a crumbling ironworks factory. The Fae occassionally put on rock concerts, which leave the human audience members enthralled and enraptured, and for the moment they consider this payment enough.
Mackie is drawn in to some intrigue when a girl that he has a crush on tells him she believes that her dead baby sister is in fact, a changeling, and her true sister may still be living as one of the pets of the underground Fae.
I was reminded just a little, of the grim hopelessness of M.T. Anderson's Thirsty, about a inhuman boy whose loyalty is firmly with the human family that has raised him. Fans of horror with gory scenes such as The Darkest Powers series by Kelley Armstrong will probably enjoy this book. I loved the cover of the hardcover, with it's terrifying mix of sharp implements and baby carriage and shiny silver background, but teens will probably find the paperback cover, featuring a hunky but moody Mackie, even more appealing.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.