Friday, January 7, 2011

Replacement review

The Replacement
by Brenna Yovanoff
September 2010

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.


  1. The cover with the baby buggy is enough to make anyone curious!

  2. I love the cover with the carriage and all the sharp objects, it's so beautifully creepy! I thought the message in this one was really great about finally finding a voice after so much silence, but I had some trouble with the odd relationship between Mackie and Tate, the relationship didn't feel real to me. Still an interesting read for sure!

  3. The cover is fantastic.
    I agree with Jenny that Mackie and Tate's relationship felt a little fake, maybe even forced. I expected more emotion from Tate toward Mackie.

  4. It was a tough balance trying to figure it out, Mackie definitely liked Tate better than she liked him. She was pretty distracted, worrying about rescuing her sister, so maybe she was just using him to get her sister back.

  5. I read this book over the holidays, and I think I was more interested in the "open secret" that you touched on than the characters. I was interested in the idea that his best friend's family was charmed so they are always prosperous, and imagined the other stories that live beneath the town's surface. Overall, though, it was a good read.

  6. This was actually a did not finish book for me. I thought it was a good idea but I COULD NOT get into it. I was not connecting w/ the characters at all. I finally called it quits. :(

  7. Ah! I really rooted for Mackie, because he seemed like the underdog. I thought a few scenes at the end were a bit too scary for my taste, so maybe you didn't miss much? (Unless you like that sort of thing.)

    Loved the scene where Mackie has to fight the dead girls for his sister's gloves back, in order to remove the curse on her hands - his sister has done so much for him over the years, it was good to see him be able to return the favor (even if she wouldn't have been in that situation in the first place, if it weren't for him.)



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