Changeling by Philippa Gregory
Phillipa Gregory’s historical fiction credentials are second to none, and her foray into young adult literature meets the high standard set by her adult novels. Changeling is tightly plotted and filled with characters that will draw young readers to the series for book after book.
We begin with a mystery and a betrayal: a young man with a shadowy past, a young girl betrayed by those who should be caring for her. Luca Vero is recruited by a mysterious stranger to wander the world and record the end of times, to investigate the strange and unnatural, to use his wits to ferret out the secrets from the sacred. But Luca carries a mystery with him, something his shadowy benefactor knows well:
The man laughed shortly and waved Luca to go, and watched as the door closed behind him. ‘Perhaps I am sending out a changeling to map fear itself,’ he said to himself, as he tidied the papers toghether and pushed back his chair. ‘What a joke for the worlds seen and unseen! A faerie child in the Order. A faerie child to map fear.’
So Luca sets off, carrying his mysterious past with him to investigate the darkness and fears of the Christian world. He does not travel alone; luckily for Luca, he has Freize, a servant with the curiosity needed to help make the investigations successful and the sense of humour necessary to watch over a seventeen year old boy coming into his own.
Luca soon finds himself embroiled in a new mystery, one that threatens the future of an ancient and wealthy nunnery, one that introduces him to Isolde, the seventeen year old Lady Abbess. Isolde is trapped in the nunnery, sent there by a family that is concerned less with her well being than the wealth she can control as her inheritance.
Luca and Isolde are forced to work together to understand the darkness that has overtaken the nunnery. Women are leaving their beds and wandering the grounds, visions are haunting the waking moments of the novices, and the new Lady Abbess is rapidly becoming the scapegoat for the sort of crimes that lead to accusations of witchcraft and all of its terrible consequences. Luckily, Isolde has her own support, and she can depend on Ishraq, a girl she has known her own life, to be her closest ally. All four of these characters, and the historical and fantastic elements of the story, blend together in a fast-paced novel that introduces the sort of characters whose stories will draw readers in for years to come. Philippa Gregory’s entry into young adult literature has been hotly anticipated, and Changeling delivers.