Book Review: The Changelings by Christina Soontornvat

The Changelings
Title: The Changelings
Author: Christina Soontornvat
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy

Izzy's family has just moved to the most boring town in the country. But as time goes on, strange things start to happen; odd piles of stones appear around Izzy's house, and her little sister Hen comes home full of stories about the witch next door. Then, Hen disappears into the woods. She's been whisked away to the land of Faerie, and it's up to Izzy to save her. Joined there by a band of outlaw Changelings, Izzy and her new friends set out on a joint search-and-rescue mission across this foreign land which is at turns alluringly magical and utterly terrifying.
I thought this book was fantastic! It has everything: whimsy, great characters, and tons of magic. What first drew me in was the cover. The story is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland mixed in with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe but purely imaginative in its own distinct and unique way. For kids, it offers several great messages about family, bravery, and compassion.

Really, I couldn't put this one down once I started. The story begins with Izzy -- stuck in a quiet town when her family moves into the house once owned by her grandmother (which also happens to be the one she was born in but didn't grow up in). She lives with her nose stuck in a book titled "Faerie and Folktales of Yesteryear." All Izzy desires to do is to live within those pages because they are so opposite of her real life. She bickers with her sister and is mad at her mother for having to readjust to her life all over again. That is, until the woman at the local store warns them of the witch living next door. And the adventure begins almost immediately.

It's hard to review this story without giving much away but I enjoyed that the story was told in a fast-paced manner, with each chapter more action packed than the next and ending on a cliffhanger every time. Other than some of the high-tense moments that happen along the way, I would have loved to live out Izzy's adventure as a kid. Because what she ends up finding is a portal to another world once her sister Hen goes missing. But this world is so believable since the author does an amazing job of interweaving both human elements and otherworldly elements which is all explained by the concept of the "Changelings."

Another thing I really enjoyed are all the inconsistencies Izzy kept on finding between her book on faeries and magical places and this "reality" on which those fantastical stories are based on. It felt a little like the inconsistencies found in our own history books we grew up learning from in school. So it teaches kids to question the world around them and the things they read. I couldn't be happier reading about faeries, goblins, elves, and humans existing in this world to see how the age 'ole good versus evil would play out.

Overall, this was a wonderful and sparkly debut. The author is supposed to come out with a children's book soon but I do hope she keeps writing these type of adventure stories because I will buy all of them and recommend them to all the kids who will be better served by leaving those electronics behind, if just for a bit.

And if you couldn't gleam this from my review, adults will especially enjoy this one too!



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