Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Book Review: THE CHANGELINGS by Christina Soontornvat

When fellow Sourcebooks author Christina Soontornvat asked if she could send me an ARC of her upcoming THE CHANGELINGS, my answer was something like, "Um, yes!" As I'm sure you've noticed, I don't do book reviews often, but I'm always up for reading and reviewing books for friends and longtime blog readers.

THE CHANGELINGS opens with eleven-year-old Izzy and seven-year-old Hen's move back to the small town in which their father was born. A high-spirited girl who's memorized Grimms' fairy tales, Izzy is convinced that the old woman next door is a child-eating witch. But when Hen disappears, she isn't kidnapped by their neighbor but by a mysterious man who plays an odd tune on a pipe. Their neighbor knows where he's taken Hen (to the underground land of Faerie) and why he took her in the first place (to switch places with a Faerie child, better known as a changeling). Their neighbor knows all this because she's a changeling, too--and she also knows that something must be very wrong if the Pied Piper didn't leave a changeling in Hen's place.

As you might imagine, Izzy then embarks on a magical adventure to rescue her sister. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge fan of the journey motif. I often find the conflict to be too episodic; I prefer plots that build on themselves, that relate later plot points back to earlier ones. That said, I found Izzy's journey to be more interesting than most. Ms. Soontornvat kept Izzy moving (literally), so she reached objectives often, usually within a chapter or two, at which point she encountered new objectives to keep the story moving, too. These new objectives often led Izzy to new and interesting settings, so we got to see a wide swath of Ms. Soontornvat's land of Faerie without the story feeling rushed.

If you like MG fantasies that put fresh spins on well-loved tropes, you should give this one a try. With a fast-moving plot and a twist that I didn't see coming, it will keep you turning pages.


Leslie S. Rose said...

This story sounds like a blast and a half. Congrats, Christina.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

If you get your hands on it, Leslie, you'll have to come back and tell us what you think!