Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

From Back Cover: Accused of heresy and expelled from his monastery, handsome seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is recruited by a mysterious stranger to record the end of times across Europe. Commanded by sealed orders, Luca is sent to map the fears of Christendom and travel to the very frontier of good and evil. Seventeen-year-old Isolde, a Lady Abbess, is trapped in a nunnery to prevent her from claiming her rich inheritance. As the nuns in her care are driven mad by having strange visions, walking in their sleep, and showing bleeding wounds, Luca is sent to investigate, and all the evidence points to Isolde's criminal guilt. Forced to face the greatest fears of the medieval world - dark magic, werewolves, madness - Luca and Isolde embark on a search for truth, their own destinies, and even love as they take the unknown ways to the real historical figure who defends the boundaries of Christendom and holds the secrets of the Order of Darkness. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Changeling by Philippa Gregory was a novel that didn’t turn out to be what I expected. Before reading Changeling, I knew that Gregory was an adult historical fiction author; and so I thought the book would be very historically oriented with some paranormal/fantasy elements thrown in. Instead, there was a lack of attention to the little details of the time period – and it showed because the setting merely served as a convenient backdrop for the plot rather than truly coming alive.

As well, although the synopsis promises dark magic and werewolves, that really isn’t the case. Some people may be let down by the lack of paranormal/fantasy elements, but I was actually happy that the truth behind the “magic” and “werewolves” was very logical. I really liked how the superstitions and beliefs held by the people Luca encountered during his travels were dispelled by rationality and science.

I also liked the characters even though I thought that they – especially Isolde – lacked depth and their dialogue seemed kind of modern. It’s unusual for secondary characters to be more developed than the primary characters, but it felt like that was what happened in Changeling with Freize (who provided some nice comic relief) and Ishraq. To me, Ishraq was the most interesting of all the characters because although she’s a female and born an Ottoman (and therefore considered an outsider), she’s well-educated and knows how to fight.

A quick, entertaining story that will most likely appeal to those who are looking for something historical lite, Changeling will be released by Simon Pulse today!

Comments About the Cover: I like the background, but the guy is a little too pale – he looks more like a vampire than a supposed changeling – and the girl doesn’t exactly resemble a modest Lady Abbess.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Simon and Schuster Canada) for free.


  1. I've read one of her adult historicals (The Other Boleyn Girl) and it was packed with details to bring the court of Henry VIII to life, so I'm surprised this one is lacking in them. Maybe they thought a YA audience wouldn't be as interested in details? I hope that's not the case.

    I think I can wait a bit on this one, thanks Z!

  2. I totally agree with your review my dear! though the things that didnt satisfy me, I blame them in the short lenght of the novel. I feel like the 266 pages were not a entire novel but just the third part of a book. @_@ if you know what I mean. Regardless that, I loved the book but I need more.

    @Jenny: this book is based on a historical setting but the characters are fictional as well as the whole story is. Maybe that influenced in the lack of description. After all, it is Gregory's first YA novel (and maybe the first with with fictional characters and plot) I guess after she reads or reviews she will better shape the next book in the series XDDD lol!

  3. I was wondering about this one, Z. I also find that the heroine is an Ottoman and outsider. I may also be in the minority that finds the paranormal element to be logical too. I hate when the popular "it" factor is just thrown haphazardly in the book, but it sounds like the author avoided this for the most part. I think I'll hold off on this one for now and see if my library has it. Thanks for the heads up, Z!

  4. I was hoping this would be great, but now not so excited. I am a stckler for great world building and attention to details. If it is lacking, I will be disappointed. I do like the idea that the werewolf explanation is logical. I might still check it out, if I ever find the time. Thanks for the honest review :)

  5. I'm not one for historical fiction, but I'd be lying if I said that this book didn't sound intriguing. I'm a huge character person, so the fact that the secondary characters were more fleshed out than the main one doesn't really sit well with me. Also, I need depth in a love interest, and Isolde doesn't seem to have that! D: However, I've heard fabulous things, and I'm tempted to check it out anyway. Maybe... Haha, thanks for the fantastic review, Zahida! <3

  6. Rationality and science? Really? That's no fun, Z. LOL

    And I like well developed secondary characters, but not at the expense of the main. :/

  7. *sigh* I pretty much felt the same way about Changeling. The premise sounded great, but the execution was rather disappointing. I had trouble connecting to the characters and wished to see more depth to them as well. Hopefully, the next book will be better.

  8. I'm not usually a fan of historicals but this book has intrigued me ever since I first heard about it. :) Glad that you enjoyed it overall.

  9. I wish there were more historical details. I love that and I was hoping with this author that would have been the case. *sigh* Oh well. I do like that the paranormal aspects have a rational explanation.

  10. I was disappointed with this one too. Not sure the adult to YA transition went well. And I definitely felt the disconnect with the characters. I do hear really good things about her adult historical fiction though.

  11. I ship Freize and Ishraq :D


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