Oh. My. Let me preface this by saying this book isn’t coming out till September 6, but that’s in plenty of time for Christmas. Or Hanukkah. Or any holiday that comes after September 6. And you can pre-order it right now.
Because if you have a little who is intrigued by All Things Fairy, he or she is going to Love this book. The Changelings has all the right elements to yank a middle-grade reader in and hold her there till the very satisfying end: an unhappy young girl, a bratty little sister, a witch, and a whole slew of fairies–some good, some bad–but all with their own kinds of problems. The cool thing is, even though the book is written for a certain age group, it never felt false or condescending, and that kept me reading as much as the action-packed story.
Izzy Doyle is pretty miserable. Her family just moved to a new town–for the ninth time in her eleven years. Needless to say, she has never really had any friends. It doesn’t help that no matter where they go, Izzy never feels like she fits in. All she has is her book of fairy tales, a tattered and well-loved book that she loses herself in whenever she’s feeling lonely. Everton is their last stop, her parents tell her. They’ve inherited her grandmother’s house and they will be staying. But the cashier at the local grocery store swears Izzy’s new next-door neighbor is a witch. And one morning, her little sister, Hen, hears a flute in the woods. And she follows the sound. And Izzy finds herself on the witch’s heels in the middle of a strange forest. She meets a boulder who turns out to be a boy. After rescuing him from dangerous pursuers called Unglers, she follows him back to his home tree, where she meets a stoat who is also a boy and a butterfly who is a translucent girl. The rag tag team sets off to find Hen, who has been captured by Good Peter the Piper. The changelings are confused by this, because Peter always leaves a changeling in its place when he takes a human, but no changeling was left for Hen.
Throughout their adventure, Izzy keeps hearing about the new queen of Fairy, a queen the changelings do not trust, a queen who has been collecting changelings for years for some purpose no one understands. The unglers are her pets, creatures that sniff out changelings and deliver them to the queen. Good Peter, who has not been so good lately, is also working for the queen. How in Fairy are they supposed to rescue Hen from such a powerful group of enemies? And what will happen if they get caught?
Watching Izzy grow from a sullen child to a quick-thinking, caring individual is a lot of fun. Perhaps even more, the world Christina Soontornvat has created from the fey is real and intriguing. It’s been a long time since I read a book with fairies in it and wanted to finish it. Oftentimes the whole idea is trite. Not so with The Changlelings. The voice reminded me a whole lot of Emily Rodda’s The Key to Rondo (and if you haven’t had the pleasure, read that one soon, too). I love when a good writer pens a middle grade book that speaks intelligently to the age group she is targeting. Nothing more irritating than an author talking down to her audience. Soontornvat never does that, and that is part of what makes this gem of a novel so good.
My suggestion is, when you buy this book for your little, get a hard copy. This one is going to be loved and probably read over and over, so give your little the tangible book to hold onto. That’s the best kind.
Affiliate links can’t hurt you, but they can help me.