This is day five of the 30 Day Challenge. As you may have noticed, there is no day four. Well, day four asked me to choose my favorite book out of my favorites series and I couldn’t do that so I passive aggressively skipped it. Moving on. A book that makes me happy.
So many books make me extremely happy. So I thought I might choose a book that most people probably haven’t read. I could have gone with The Last Exit to Normal or Going Bovine or Suck it up. But I don’t have any of those books on hand to rediscover their wonder (But I just realized there’s a sequel to Suck it Up and I’m freaking out just a little bit). Anyway. So my final decision came to a book that made me happy before I even opened it: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff.
This is one of my favorite books, and probably my favorite book cover of all time. I mean, just look at it. That’s why I picked the book up. There are sharp objects hanging over an old style stroller. What’s going on there? And the back cover is just as interesting.
In the story, Emma’s four years old. She gets out of bed and pads across the floor in her footie pajamas. When she reaches her hand between the bars, the thing in the crib moves closer. It tries to bite her and she takes her hand out again but doesn’t back away. They spend all night looking at each other in the dark. In the morning, the thing is still crouched on the lamb-and-duckling mattress pad, staring at her. It isn’t her brother. It’s me.
So I was officially intrigued. So I bought the book and thoroughly loved it in the comfort of my own home.
Are you familiar with the stories of the changeling? Here’s a small run-down. A changeling is a sickly fairy baby who is left in the crib when the fairies take the healthy human baby. Because they need healthy children and they are jealous, so they take the human baby and leave their own behind. The changeling never lives long.
This is a story in the point of view of the changeling.
There are a few changes to the lore here and there. It kind of combines a lot of stuff. Basically, the changeling – the replacement, in this story – never survives because the family knows it’s not theirs and, assuming they don’t kill it, they can’t love it. And it’s because it is unloved that it dies. BUT, when it dies it always returns to the tunnels under the city to live with it’s people again. So the fairies (who don’t really have a name in this story) never really lose anything. And they take the healthy human baby (or child) not because they are jealous and need a baby, but because one of the older ones is nuts off her ass and – well, I don’t want to give everything away.
Creeped out yet? Oh, I love it.
Now, the town of Gentry is a small town in the middle of nowhere that is heavily superstitious. Which is one of the reasons why the changeling never survives. In this town, everyone hangs iron off their homes because their superstitions tell them the fairies are allergic to iron. And they’re right. But somehow, this doesn’t always stop the children from being taken.
In this case of our protagonist and the main family, it almost did stop them. The family includes the dad, who is the town preacher, the mom, who had been taken as a child and survived, and Emma, the sister. Then of course Mackie, the replacement. Because of the backgrounds of the parents, the fairies fully expected Mackie to die and return to them. They did not, however, count on his sister. Emma was only four years old when her ‘real’ brother got taken, and when he got taken it was her fault. But she doesn’t remember him. She remembers the creepy wrinkly thing they put in his crib, and this is the brother she proceeded to love. It was sort of her fault, because her mother had hung a bunch of iron over his crib. That iron included scissors and knives and all that good stuff. Emma didn’t want them to fall and hurt the baby, so she took them down. Not five seconds later, a man pops in the window and takes the baby and leaves the replacement behind. The parents wouldn’t kill it but they certainly didn’t love it. But then he wouldn’t die and he grew on them. And everything was nice in the Doyle family.
Aside from everything, two things i really love about this book are the lore and the protagonist.
I’ll go into the lore a little bit first. In addition to the stuff above, the fairies can’t go into the church. It’s either because it’s hallowed ground and the town believes quite fervently that it will keep them away, so it actually does. OR the church was built on iron foundations. Either way, they can’t go into the church. Which includes Mackie. Which is kind of awkward because his dad is the town preacher. So he shows up every week, but he kind of hangs out outside. Then of course there’s the music. The creatures in this story have an affinity for music. Perfect pitch, talented musicians, stuff like that. The music they make is actually mesmerizing, like a spell or something of the sort. It’s wonderful.
Then there’s Mackie. Mackie is kind of awkward, really strange, and just generally wonderful. He really wants to fit in, even though he doesn’t feel like a real person half the time. But it’s a bit difficult since he’s really obviously different and he’s kind of been slowly dying due to all the iron around. And his allergy is so severe he’ll have a reaction if someone gets a paper cut. Due to the iron in the blood. But he’s also a sweet heart and generally just sort of confused about everything, being that he is a teenager. I love him so much.
I think I’ve sufficiently gotten across how happy this book makes me. If you’re still with me through all the creepy: Here, have an actual synopsis. That I’m editing. Because I don’t like the one on the book so much.
Mackie is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls rules by a little tattooed princess. He is a replacement – 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. Mackie would give anything to live among us. But they want him back. There is an oddly intriguing girl named Tate, and when her baby sister goes missing Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry: Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the slag heaps and find his place in our world, or theirs.
Recently, I said that I had never been able to read a book more than once. As of 1 am on October 16, 2013, this is the first book I’ve read twice. I think it’s because how utterly unremarkable it is. The story gets a 4.5, the characters (mostly Mackie) get a 4. Execution and general development get a possibly generous 3. But because of ratings one and two, this book makes me quite happy. In the quiet sort of way where I’m not distracted by how amazing it is to feel, but just enough where I’m inclined to keep going. It’s really quite nice.