Title: Changeling (Order of Darkness Book 1)
Author: Philippa Gregory
Published by: Simon Pulse
Released: May 2012
Summary: The year is 1453 and Luca Vero receives a strange and interesting assignment. Luca is pulled out of the monastery where he was placed as a young child and taken on a mysterious journey. He fears he is to be punished for heresy against the church, but instead finds himself promoted to a new position as an Inquirer, with the task of inquiring and looking into possible end of time events. His first assignment is to investigate a nunnery where strange things are occurring. Nuns are having visions, sleepwalking, and some are waking up with the marks of the crucifixion upon their bodies.
Lady Isolde has lost her father and instead of inheriting the castle, lands, and taking care of the people like her father promised; she is given the choice to marry an unwanted suitor or give up her worldly ways by becoming the lady Abbess of the nunnery. The nunnery being the better option, Isolde chooses that fate and then the nuns start to go mad around her.
Luca and Isolde's paths end up crossing as they try to figure out just what is going on in the nunnery.
My Thoughts: I was very curious to see what Philippa Gregory's first Young Adult book was like. I've read at least one of her many adult books, and had found it to be an enjoyable, interesting, and historical read. While I was interested in the story and world of Changeling, I wasn't blown away by it. Changeling didn't feel like a YA story with YA characters, it just felt like another one of her adult books. One thing that kind of annoys me is the thought process that having a character who is 16 or 17 automatically makes it a YA book. YA books have a certain feel to them and Changeling felt very much more adult than it did YA. Also, it was very historical. Now I'm not hating on historical fiction. I'll devour a story set in an interesting past time or place, but in Changeling the history/setting seemed to take center stage while the story and characters kind of took a backseat. Also, the subject matter of monks, nuns, and making vows of celibacy before God are just not subjects that I think appeal to the teen reader. Changeling just felt more adult than teen, with an overbearing presence of history.
I also didn't really connect with these characters. As a reader, I kind of felt removed from them and not really a part of their story. And the relationship between Luca and Isolde seemed questionable, seeing as how he didn't even really like her at first and he's got that vow of celibacy hanging around his neck.
Now, my review isn't all bad. I did find this story to be an enjoyable read. There were some exciting scenes where I had to keep reading just so I could find out what happened. I also enjoyed the character of Frieze. At first I thought he was a little crazy, saying whatever popped into his mind and directing them at his horse, but he grew on me as the story went on.
I think this series would make a very interesting television show set in medieval times. If the next book in the series shows up at my library, I'd probably pick it up and read it.
BOOKCITEMENT LEVEL 3/5
1453, here I come.