Review of The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

One look at the cover art to this book and I knew I had to read it.  Oh not the insipid, appeal to teen girls cover that appeared on the Australian edition,

but the radical, oh my god this book will be awesome, cover art that appeared on the American edition.

I grew up on tales of Changelings, faeries who were left in place of a stolen human baby, and that image of dangling iron above a crib spoke to something inside me.

The blurb starts off like this:

“Mackie Doyle is the Replacement.  Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess.  He is a Replacment – left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago.  Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world.”

There was so much potential in that one paragraph, so many what ifs that my brain practically exploded.  Unfortunately, while the book was extremely enjoyable, and it certainly held my attention (not an easy thing to do these days) I felt that its potential was not quite realised.  My initial excitement at the possibilities inherent within this idea did not eventuate.  Maybe the lead characters were too young for me to relate to, although I normally don’t have a problem relating to YA fiction (being so very young at heart while at the same time having the right to say ‘Kids these days!’)

Perhaps it was the fact that I was brought up on the faerie changeling tales, so very much a part of my Irish heritage.  My expectations were very high and they weren’t fulfilled.  Please understand, I am not saying this was a bad book, in fact it was extremely well written and kudos to a new author for coming out with such a great first novel.  It is an achievement to get into print that I am extremely jealous of and I don’t make any pretensions that I could have done a better job, I couldn’t.

It is just that when you get to a subject that you love, you so, so want it to be your ultimate book.  Your expectations are so high that you cannot help but be disappointed.  I find this happens a lot with sequels.  The author is such a favourite of yours that you automatically buy the next novel sight unseen.  You wait months for it to come out, tensions mounting, until the day it is published and you can go and finally purchase it.  You read it in one sitting, devouring the prose of your favourite author, delighting in meeting favourite characters again, but thinking in the back of your mind that perhaps the author is coasting a little, perhaps they are resting on their laurels a touch?  Perhaps this could have been better?

But you persevere, knowing that the quality will come back, that perhaps they had a bad year, perhaps the deadlines were too tight and they didn’t get a chance to review as much as they usually do.  Perhaps they simply have nothing left to say about the characters, but the publishers want more, more, more.  Needless to say, I will buy, and keep on buying this author purely for their past brilliance and the hope of future brilliance.  It will take more than one lame book to turn me off a whole series.

This post was longer the first time round, in fact I had my rant up and going at a million miles an hour but the internet went down half way through and the autosave didn’t work so now my rant has fizzled and I can’t even remember what I wrote before.  What I will say is that I can recommend The Replacement, although it is a YA book and, unlike most YA books, you can really tell.  The print is extra large, like they think the young have bad eyes?  It is beautifully written and I did enjoy it but I think if you want to read about things that go bump in the night I would recommend Faerie Tale by Raymond E Feist, one of the most chillingly scary stories I have ever read.  (In fact I should reread it and do a review!)