Changeling – Book Review

The Oddmire #1 By: William Ritter
Published On: July 16, 2019

Once upon a time, there was a child whom the goblins came to steal, and once upon a time, there was a child whom the goblins left behind.

William Ritter, Changeling

There is a classic feel to Changeling. Here middle grade readers are introduced to goblin folklore, which is then combined with contemporary elements. The premise of this story is mostly based on goblin changeling lore: a goblin substitutes a couple’s real baby for a goblin baby that looks identical. Sometimes the lore describes fairies doing this, but mostly I’ve seen goblins as the main culprit. But there is another folklore element that the story introduces readers too: The Hinkypunk.

It all starts when Kull, a goblin, goes to change one human baby for a goblin baby. Except Kull gets confused as to which is which and has to leave them both there. Everyone in town understands what has happened, but since the two boys are identical no one can tell them apart. Now they just wait for the day the goblin part of the boy reveals itself.

Changeling is very unique in this: Unlike most middle grade novels that separate the children from their parents so the kids can have an adventure, Changeling makes the mother extremely integral to the story. Annie (mother) is hands down my favorite character from the story as it revolves around her love for both boys. For 12 years Annie has raised them, loved them, helped them. No one and not even Kull can tell her that they are not both her sons. It’s a lovely theme and message: You do not have to be blood-related to be loved, to be a family, nor to be someone’s child.

If Annie is my favorite character, then Fable is my least favorite. Fable is an innocent, naive character that at times acts as if she were 5 years old and then other times surprises you by her boldness and loyalty to her new friends. Her naivete she displays contrasted against how she acts extremely bravely and assertively other times felt a little disjointed. In the end, I couldn’t reconcile the different parts to her character.

The story is sweet and adventurous with a lovely message. But there were moments in the story where I needed more dialogue to help bring me into the story as I felt like the action or events were being described to me instead of me experiencing it along with Cole and Tinn. I also didn’t understand why the story needed to take the boys the first wrong direction, but I can’t elaborate without spoiling. But in the end Changeling will certainly be a story that resonates with many readers.

Thanks to Netgalley and Algonquin Young Readers for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Description:

Magic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the fateful night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong. After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted from his task. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart. Not knowing which to bring back, he leaves both babies behind.

Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. Then when they are twelve years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic. The boys must leave behind their sleepy town of Endsborough and risk their lives in the Wild Wood, crossing the perilous Oddmire swamp and journeying through the Deep Dark to reach the goblin horde and discover who they truly are.