Changeling by Philippa Gregory
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Genre: turned out to be historical fiction
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: May 29, 2012
Series: Order of Darkness #1
Source: Personal Shelf
Reviewed by: Tynga
Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.
Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.
Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.
The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is grounded in historical communities and their mythic beliefs. It includes a medieval map of Europe that will track their journey; and the interior will include relevant decorative elements as well as an interior line illustration. And look for a QR code that links to a note from the author with additional, detailed information about the setting and the history that informed the writing. With Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch, this novel deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—vividly and disturbingly to life.
In a world where thinking for oneself is frowned upon, Luca finds himself in deep trouble for doing just that. Given a second chance by the leader of a secret order, he finds himself on the road with two companions to investigate all forms of Evil. Sent to inquire in a nunnery where the nuns are going crazy, he will meet with the mysterious Abbess, and their lives will never be the same.
I picked up Changeling for three main reasons. First, I fell for its gorgeous cover, second I heard great feedback from bloggers I follow and third, I know Philippa Gregory is acclaimed for her historical romance. I have to confess, I did not enjoy this novel. I was under the impression this novel would have a paranormal twist to it and I was completely misled by the summary. “The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers (part of the summary)” – that just isn’t true, it should say “The four young people encounter what seems to be werewolves and witches but were proven wrong as they take a moment to investigate”. So yeah – no paranormal element what-so-ever. A big disappointment for me.
Another reason why I disliked this novel… The romance, or should I say lack there-of? “Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe” another quote from the summary… And truthfully, I didn’t see any growing love. The interaction between the two can barely be called flirting, even by historical standards. So by the end of the book I was thinking, no paranormal, no romance, why did I read this book again? Oh yeah, the summary was a big pile of lie =/
Now if you like purely historical novel, you might find yourself enjoying Changeling. It’s very true to my perception of the 1400s and the attitude and character speech seems adequate. The influence of the church in the storyline is some-what interesting and the plot line was good even though it had a weird pace. I liked that Luca doubted the information he got, and took time to process it and offer a fair judgement.
The one stellar point for me in this novel was Freize, Luca’s servant. He was funny, quick-minded, smart and romantic. If it wasn’t for this character, I don’t think I would’ve finished the novel.
I must say I was baffled by the end, because it’s not really an end. The four characters live a first subplot at the nunnery, hit the road and face another subplot in a village, hit the road again and it just finishes that way. No cliff-hanger and suspense of any kind that would push the reader the purchase the next novel, I thought it was weird.
All that being said, Changeling wasn’t a book for me and I’m really sad the summary was so misleading. If you like historical novel with a shadow (a very small one at that) of paranormal then you might find yourself enjoying this book. I’m afraid I won’t pick up the sequel.
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