The Changeling

The Changeling

A Novel

Book - 2017
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"Apollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood. An antiquarian book dealer with a business called Improbabilia, he is just beginning to settle into his new life as a committed and involved father, unlike his own father who abandoned him, when his wife Emma begins acting strange. Disconnected and uninterested in their new baby boy, Emma at first seems to be exhibiting all the signs of post-partum depression, but it quickly becomes clear that her troubles go far beyond that. Before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act--beyond any parent's comprehension--and vanishes, seemingly into thin air. Thus begins Apollo's odyssey through a world he only thought he understood to find a wife and child who are nothing like he'd imagined. His quest begins when he meets a mysterious stranger who claims to have information about Emma's whereabouts. Apollo then begins a journey that takes him to a forgotten island in the East River of New York City, a graveyard full of secrets, a forest in Queens where immigrant legends still live, and finally back to a place he thought he had lost forever. This dizzying tale is ultimately a story about family and the unfathomable secrets of the people we love"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Spiegel & Grau, [2017]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780812995947
Characteristics: 431 pages ; 25 cm


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DPLSaraQT Apr 24, 2019

This is a beautiful example of old stories made new again, of fairy tales brought into modern day. There is so much to potentially unpack from this book -- the digital vs. the analog, old vs. new parenting, heroes vs. monsters. The author does a fantastic job reading the audiobook version.

Mar 21, 2019

This had all the markings of a good story, but it took forever to get there. I felt like there was too much of a back story. The same story could have been told in half the number of words.

Dec 11, 2018

If this is a horror author winner, perhaps I should try the losers. Because this wasn't scary, didn't have involving characters, wasn't engaging, didn't create a believable or even entertaining world - the only thing horrible about it was that it was a horrible waste of my time. I kept thinking it has to have some value for people to be praising it so, but no, it never became anything worthwhile.
It's 431 pages long. Think of what you could do with that time - clean your gutters, wash your dishes, vacuum your bedroom. And then do that instead of reading this.
My suggestion for best fantasy of recent years? 'A City Dreaming' by Daniel Polansky. Ignored by critics, its a whimsical charmer, that deserves your time.

Feb 18, 2018

Fairy tales for adults, go from modern day New York to magical islands with witches and monsters
What does "Happy ever after really mean"?

KateHillier Dec 17, 2017

That was one wild ride into deep and dark territory. Apollo, who is named like the hero in a fairy tale, has a rather bumpy childhood and grows up to become a book dealer. When he meets and marries librarian Emma Valentine (another great name) all is happy and good up to and including the birth of their son. Then Emma starts acting weird and does something utterly horrific, or did she really?

If you don't know what a changeling is I won't explain it here or make an effort to ruin it here. Suffice to say Apollo goes looking for his wife and son in an underworld of New York that can almost take on Neil Gaiman's London Below in horrors and nightmare fuel. You also may never want to share anything online ever again after this. Timely, imaginative, creative, creepy, weird and wonderful. If dark fantasy/fairy tales/urban fantasy is your thing I highly recommend this.

Sep 28, 2017

LaValle introduces us to Apollo Kagwa, from the meeting of his parents through to his marriage to Emma and the birth of their child. A moment of extreme violence rips Apollo's family apart and he must set out on a quest through a mythological New York City to reunite them.

This novel had beautifully drawn characters and, perhaps even more importantly, beautifully drawn relationships between characters: between Apollo's parents; Apollo and Emma; Apollo and his friend Patrice; even between secondary characters like Patrice and his girlfriend Dana. LaValle fully imagines this world that Apollo is in, including the people. And then, of course, there is the fine rendering of New York - the regular New York, from the 1960s to the present; and the mythological New York, replete with witches and trolls. It's a story that I think will age well while also having very timely considerations woven through it - the effect of technology on anonymity, certainly, but also the way a black man must move through the city in very specific ways. A tremendously satisfying read all the way through.

The first half is pretty straightforward literary fiction, while the second half is more fantastical - it will be interesting to see how many fantasy readers will be patient through the first half, and how many literary fiction readers will stay with it after it becomes fantastical. For readers of the increasingly popular subgenre of fairy tale inspired fiction (writers like Helen Oyeyemi, etc).

Sep 27, 2017

I fell for the NYT review and read the book halfway before giving up. Incoherent, puerile, and filled with grammatical errors. Easily one of the worst books I've ever encountered. Complete rubbish, and a waste of time.

Sep 21, 2017

A hundred pages in and I asked myself "Where is this going?"
I stopped reading it and turned it back. It seemed to lack substance.

Aug 14, 2017

In the genre of horror fiction, this is one of the best novels I have ever read. I made myself read it slowly, since I sincerely did not want to reach its ending. The author has a way with words, making his characters believable within a "not so believable" storyline. This is definitely a horror novel on an entirely different level. Thank you Victor Lavalle...


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