The Changeling
One man’s thrilling journey through an enchanted world to find his wife, who has disappeared after seemingly committing an unforgiveable act of violence, from the award-winning author of the The Devil in Silver and Big Machine.“If the literary gods mixed together Haruki Murakami and Ralph Ellison…the result would be Victor LaValle.”—Anthony DoerrApollo 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.

The Changeling Details

TitleThe Changeling
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 13th, 2017
PublisherSpiegel & Grau
ISBN0812995945
ISBN-139780812995947
Number of pages448 pages
Rating
GenreFantasy, Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

The Changeling Review

  • Fran
    February 23, 2017
    Apollo Kagwa has abandonment issues. His mother Lillian, Ugandan by birth, has raised him alone since age four, when father Brian West vanished. For years, Apollo has had recurring dreams of a man knocking on the door and pushing his way into the apartment. He envisions being carried through a fog and wakes up screaming. Lillian is forced to leave Apollo alone for hours in order to keep the family afloat. Apollo, a self contained, bookish child is a voracious reader.Childhood entrepreneurial exp Apollo Kagwa has abandonment issues. His mother Lillian, Ugandan by birth, has raised him alone since age four, when father Brian West vanished. For years, Apollo has had recurring dreams of a man knocking on the door and pushing his way into the apartment. He envisions being carried through a fog and wakes up screaming. Lillian is forced to leave Apollo alone for hours in order to keep the family afloat. Apollo, a self contained, bookish child is a voracious reader.Childhood entrepreneurial experiences selling magazines has led Apollo to a career as a book man. He learns to value books, attending estate sales in search of rare and valuable books. Along with friend Army vet, Patrice Green, they search for preserved First Editions. The importance of turning a profit cannot be understated since Apollo's wife, librarian Emma, is due to give birth to their first child. After son Brian's birth, the family's financial and emotional health changes. Emma experiences severe postpartum depression. But wait...Apollo uncovers a First Edition of "To Kill A Mockingbird" that he has appraised and authenticated. A buyer, William Wheeler, agrees to pay $70,000 for the tome. Apollo and Patrice are asked to bring the book to a location of William's choosing. This is when Scottish glamour, an old kind of magic, weaves its way into the midst. Illusions and altered reality make a baby no longer a baby. This clouded reality comes replete with internet predators watching the principals every move and documenting these moves for nefarious purposes."The Changeling" by Victor LaValle is a many layered novel. It is additionally a cautionary tale about the dangers of posting family photos and personal information technologically. Thank you Mr. LaValle for the suggestion of vigilance as a safeguard.Thank you Random House and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "The Changeling".
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  • switterbug (Betsey)
    April 18, 2017
    I’m compelled to compare LaValle to Stephen King, especially the domestic novels. Like King, Victor LaValle ably mines the struggles of ordinary families, and intertwines extraordinary circumstances, via supernatural horror and gristle. He does this to emphasize bitter realities—a palimpsest of fractured Maurice Sendak fables, with strained domestic life that ironically underscores rather than distracts from everyday family problems. What I like better about LaValle is that he does it without pl I’m compelled to compare LaValle to Stephen King, especially the domestic novels. Like King, Victor LaValle ably mines the struggles of ordinary families, and intertwines extraordinary circumstances, via supernatural horror and gristle. He does this to emphasize bitter realities—a palimpsest of fractured Maurice Sendak fables, with strained domestic life that ironically underscores rather than distracts from everyday family problems. What I like better about LaValle is that he does it without platitudes, but still executes a fantastical morality tale. Or is it a cautionary tale? I don’t want to reveal what the reader will discover inside these pages.It starts with the love of a Ugandan immigrant, Lillian Kagwa, a statuesque beauty, and a white parole officer, Brian West. They meet in NYC, marry, and have a son, Apollo. But, unfortunately, Brian leaves—vanishes—when Apollo is just a child. Lillian’s love and formidable endurance carry on, raising Apollo with commitment and strength, albeit with a few mistakes. But it was difficult being a single mother in New York in the 70s and 80s.After Brian vanishes, Apollo has a specific and recurring nightmare about his father, which introduces the dreamlike, supernatural elements of the book. Complete with steamy clouds and vapor, his father both frightens and promises him with his presence and absence. There was also the day that Brian leaves a gift—a box of memories—at the door, which just ratchets up the immediacy of the subsequent dreams.Tucked in the box among the various memorabilia is a children’s book by Maurice Sendak. Outside Over There, which Brian nightly read to Apollo when Apollo was a wee child. If you are familiar with this tale (not as well known as Where the Wild Things Are), then you have a jump start on the narrative’s parable—or a parable of a parable. I was not familiar with it, so the gradual reveal was another nugget of surprise for me. Apollo becomes the main protagonist of the story. He become an antiquarian book dealer, naming his business Improbabilia, and traverses all the NYC boroughs and sometimes beyond in order to seek out great finds. He meets, falls in love, and marries the lovely Emma Valentine, and they have a son. The birth scene alone has cinematic optics.As the tale settles on Apollo and Emma’s life with baby Brian, the suspense escalates with the creepy chill of things that go bump in the night—or broad daylight. LaValle keeps the narrative propulsive with a superb plot and rich characterizations. The 400+ pages and large-sized pages never feel cumbersome, because you’ll be too busy turning the pages with relish. The climax is both classic and contemporary, with ancient myths and modern technology fused into immaculate myth. But LaValle has utter control of his themes—of courage in devotion to family, and the lengths we will take to protect the people we love. I felt fatly satisfied when I finished this extravagant tale.Random fact: Interesting that Maurice Sendak features in another book being published this year, Julia Glass’s A House Among the Trees, a very different kind of book than LaValle’s. But it is intriguing to me, this fact of Sendak in both novels.
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  • Bandit
    March 12, 2017
    Oh yes. That's what I'm talking about. This is the sort of book that reignites the passion for the genre. I've read LaValle's Devil in Silver, which I liked a lot, but this dark fairy tale for adults definitely takes the cake. And slaughters it. It starts off like many fairy tales do...nice and normal story of a man who realizes there's more to life than buying and selling books, proceeds to fall in love and start a family. Fatherhood agrees with him, all is dreamily well...until his perfect lif Oh yes. That's what I'm talking about. This is the sort of book that reignites the passion for the genre. I've read LaValle's Devil in Silver, which I liked a lot, but this dark fairy tale for adults definitely takes the cake. And slaughters it. It starts off like many fairy tales do...nice and normal story of a man who realizes there's more to life than buying and selling books, proceeds to fall in love and start a family. Fatherhood agrees with him, all is dreamily well...until his perfect life comes to a violent crash. Now his baby's gone, his wife's gone, his world has been turned upside down and he's about to find out the wizardry behind the curtain of normalcy. Bring on witches, bring on trolls, bring on...well, changelings. Fairy tales were meant to be scary, before Disney and Co. got to them. Fairy tales were meant to be something along these lines. LaValle gets it right, though he throws is his innate race observations and there's the ubiquitous use of modern technology, it's otherwise something straight out of Brothers Grimm, though with a Scandinavian twist. There's a great dramatic story too, about fatherhood, marriage, responsibilities, love, trust and so much more. Awesome backstory, mixed in with the quintessential NY immigrant saga, because this is very much a NY tale. It would have probably worked without the supernatural aspect as just a suspense story, but evils lurking in a dark, dark forest are the proverbial cherry on top. Terrifically entertaining ride. Most enthusiastically recommended. For more troll fun see Trollhunter, for more changeling fun read Keith Donohue's Stolen Child. And do yourself a favor, put some electric tape on your computer's camera, because you never know. And maybe ease off on social media. Fairy tales, after all must have a moral, and a moral here is when you make yourself a visible entity, you can't control who sees you and what sort of attention you'll invite. Paranoid, sure. But what if they're really after you? This is a perfectly apt fairy tale for a digital age. Food for thoughts. Thanks Netgalley.
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  • Andrew Barnes
    March 7, 2017
    A slow burn of a surreal modern day fairy tale, Victor LaValle's The Changeling takes it sweet time revealing just what sort of book it truly is. Guy-meets girl-have-a-baby-father-bails-leaving-son-with-abandonment-issues-when-he-finds-himself-faced-with fatherhood is a common enough theme. But then the book slowly keeps spiraling in unexpected ways which I will not spoil. Cleverly looking at internet trolls, "happily ever after," and the unparalleled joys of parenting despite the no-win expecta A slow burn of a surreal modern day fairy tale, Victor LaValle's The Changeling takes it sweet time revealing just what sort of book it truly is. Guy-meets girl-have-a-baby-father-bails-leaving-son-with-abandonment-issues-when-he-finds-himself-faced-with fatherhood is a common enough theme. But then the book slowly keeps spiraling in unexpected ways which I will not spoil. Cleverly looking at internet trolls, "happily ever after," and the unparalleled joys of parenting despite the no-win expectations around parenting (helicopter parent and you're too involved, work-work-work to provide and you're a distant hazy vague outline of a parent) The Changeling is brilliant, crazy, funny, profound, and overall straight up bizarre gem.----Thanks to NetGalley and publisher for the advanced ebook for an honest review.
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  • ☘Tara Sheehan☘
    February 6, 2017
    The Changeling is an enchanting book where Victor LaValle draws out every detail to slowly bring you along on an emotional journey about the artistry of family. It has moments of beauty, pain, and just enough mystery to keep you curious as to what he will spring out of the hat next.Apollo is the kind of man many women wish for but always seem to overlook. The guy who deserves a second look because he’s the one who will make you feel like a princess; LaValle has written a truly interesting charac The Changeling is an enchanting book where Victor LaValle draws out every detail to slowly bring you along on an emotional journey about the artistry of family. It has moments of beauty, pain, and just enough mystery to keep you curious as to what he will spring out of the hat next.Apollo is the kind of man many women wish for but always seem to overlook. The guy who deserves a second look because he’s the one who will make you feel like a princess; LaValle has written a truly interesting character in him. Reading about Emma’s birthing experience made me glad I had a C-section. When the author starts describing how Apollo & Emma have their baby living on social media I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or groan. I’m pretty sure we’ve all known these kinds of parents who practically have their kid set up with a marketing team considering all the photos that post across every platform tech has created.Eventually you get through the parts where this seems like any ‘normal’ book about a woman who was suffering extreme post-partum depression and it shifts into a magical side of the world where everything you know blinds you from seeing the truth. LaValle used early American history and tales from other cultures to create a rich world layered over the one we see every day. Characters out of our imaginations, or nightmares depending on your point of view, come alive to push you through a journey of self-discovery and adventure. The mysticism and old world religious beliefs made for an additional sense of wonder and intrigue.Then you get to the root of the story, the dangers of social media, but even that is a benign description for the horror we have created. Technology has created online windows into our homes and families where we invite monsters from a Wes Craven movie to come tear up our lives then have the audacity to act outraged when we become victims of our own making. The true magic of the story isn’t the trolls, witches, ancient pacts or anything else like that, it’s the love that the author was able to bring out of tragedy. It was showing what a parent is willing to do for their kid; that in the end love really does conquer all.By the way, thanks Mr. LaValle for the advice – there is electrical tape over my computer’s camera to keep out the monsters.
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  • Andre
    March 4, 2017
    Changeling. The title alone should give readers some insight into the story. A changeling is defined as a child believed to have been secretly substituted by fairies for the parents’ real child in infancy. The center of the story is young Brian, the only child of Apollo and Emma. Apollo carries into his adult life, the pain of his father having abandoned the family when he was just four. He has recurring nightmares, or are they repressed memories, from that abandonment and vows to never put his Changeling. The title alone should give readers some insight into the story. A changeling is defined as a child believed to have been secretly substituted by fairies for the parents’ real child in infancy. The center of the story is young Brian, the only child of Apollo and Emma. Apollo carries into his adult life, the pain of his father having abandoned the family when he was just four. He has recurring nightmares, or are they repressed memories, from that abandonment and vows to never put his son Brian in that same predicament. Apollo is determined to be a great and present father.So when his wife Emma begins to experience signs of a serious case of what seems to be post-partum depression Apollo becomes protective of little Brian and ignores and dismisses Emma’s claims of strange pictures and text messages being sent to her phone. Is Emma having delusions? "But the answer is simple. You’re what’s wrong with our family, Emma. You. Are. The. Problem. Go take another pill.” Can Apollo afford to leave her concerns uninvestigated? The book is paced well even though it clocks in at 448 pages, the prose is engaging and as the story moves from reality into the fantastical it doesn’t lose its grip, maintaining the allure established at the outset. The transition is jarring and the challenge for readers will be how comfortable can one be with this shift into monstrosity and does the novel retain the plausibility that is established early on. There are elements of the story that will give new parents pause, especially in regards to sharing information about your child via social media. Some of these elements are funny, others downright instructive.Ultimately the pull of this novel rests in family relations, love and secrets that should be shared between parent and child. How far will one go to save their child, spouse? Is the withholding of information from your children always the best route even when the parent is doing so in service to the child? These are pertinent questions the novel raises. An interesting journey through the real world with side trips through phantasy. Safe travels. 3.5 stars. This advanced eBook was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for a review. The book is scheduled for publication June 13, 2017
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  • Allison
    March 19, 2017
    REVIEW TO COME
  • Snap
    April 28, 2017
    I won a copy of THE CHANGELING by Victor LaValle on Goodreads. Thank you Goodreads and Random House. This is the first book I've read by LaValle. I like the give-a-ways on Goodreads. They give me a chance to read a book I might normally not choose to read. It has been awhile since I've read an urban-fantasy.Apollo Kagwa's father left when Apollo was very young. He used to read Maurice Sendak's OUTSIDE OVER THERE to Apollo every night. Apollo can recite the book from memory. It is this book that I won a copy of THE CHANGELING by Victor LaValle on Goodreads. Thank you Goodreads and Random House. This is the first book I've read by LaValle. I like the give-a-ways on Goodreads. They give me a chance to read a book I might normally not choose to read. It has been awhile since I've read an urban-fantasy.Apollo Kagwa's father left when Apollo was very young. He used to read Maurice Sendak's OUTSIDE OVER THERE to Apollo every night. Apollo can recite the book from memory. It is this book that starts Apollo's love of books and it is not long before Apollo, even as a young boy, is buying and selling books. Apollo's life is going well. He is married and has a baby boy. He, unlike his father, is a committed father. Suddenly, seemingly without reason, his wife Emma changes. She has no interest in their baby, is withdrawn and depressed, commits a horrific act and disappears. Apollo searches for her. This book is about family, secrets and the search for answers.This book is well written and long -- 433 pages. I'm sure you've heard the saying that a vampire can not enter your home unless you invite him/her in. Reading this book, I wonder what we are inviting in our homes by posting family photos on the internet!
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  • Terri
    March 26, 2017
    Wow this book really surprised me. First of all it grabbed me from the first paragraph. I started reading about Apollo and his father abandonment issues and ended up with a totally different story than I thought I started with. Brilliant , enchanting , scary , thrilling this book slays the dark fairytale genre
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  • Kathleen
    April 17, 2017
    Never having read anything by Victor Lavalle, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. Other reviewers refer to his latest book, The Changeling, as a horror story, a modern day fairy tale. The beginning reads nothing like horror as it tells the story of how the parents of the main character, Apollo Kagwa, met and fell in love during the New York garbage strike of 1968. It’s sweet and lovely and makes for the perfect “Once upon a time.” Apollo is also sweet and lovely with a great sense of humour. He Never having read anything by Victor Lavalle, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. Other reviewers refer to his latest book, The Changeling, as a horror story, a modern day fairy tale. The beginning reads nothing like horror as it tells the story of how the parents of the main character, Apollo Kagwa, met and fell in love during the New York garbage strike of 1968. It’s sweet and lovely and makes for the perfect “Once upon a time.” Apollo is also sweet and lovely with a great sense of humour. He stole my heart when he was able, at age twelve, to turn his love for books into a business of buying and selling them to the neighbors.The story then moves to Apollo as an adult and how he meets his future wife, Emma, the librarian. They have a loving relationship that grows with the birth of their son, Brian. The scene of Brian’s birth is memorable and humorous. Then things get weird, really weird. And at about page 125, like a baseball bat to the gut or a hammer to the face, things go wildly horrific. Absolutely out of the blue horrific. I almost had to put down the book and walk away.I’m glad I didn’t. Without going into too much detail that would spoil it for other readers, Apollo finds himself alone and at a loss. This is when the book gets really creepy as it turns into a modern-day fairy tale that is more like the ancient narratives told around the fire and in no way resembles the cleansed and prettified Disney tales with a moral and the straight forward happily ever after. The Changeling is violent and angry and scary and reminds me of the German tales of “Black Peter”. You want demented? Read the fairy tales of Black Peter.The Changeling drew me in and kept me glued to the book. When I finished, I was wiped out and the story and its characters stuck with me for days. There are elements throughout that make The Changeling a true modern-day horror story. There are more than just evil creatures or ghosts or witches that haunt and threaten us; our age has created a monster so powerful and broad it can easily destroy and wipe us out. That is a horror story.While I loved the book, I felt there were some aspects that were never truly fleshed out or explained. I wanted to know more about Emma; she has a certain faculty that is not clarified (again, no spoiler). The scenes on the island were creepy but I wanted to know more about its inhabitants. Definitely a great story there.So, to sum up, The Changeling is a fantastic mix of horror, humour, heartbreak, secrets and grit. The characters are amazing. There are some incredibly creepy parts that made me cringe. It’s well written and unforgettable And Apollo; I loved him for his strength, unconditional love for his family, and big heart. Memorable.Highly recommended.
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  • Rani
    May 6, 2017
    I discovered this book, as an advanced readers copy, at a used bookshop in Brooklyn. It feels fitting, especially after learning about Apollo’s career choice, and seeing how very “New York” the book is. The book is the story of Apollo and Emma, a young couple in NYC. They experience the birth of their first child, but shortly after, Emma begins acting very strangely and then disappears. After meeting a stranger who seems to know where Emma is, Apollo takes a journey to find her and uncovers secr I discovered this book, as an advanced readers copy, at a used bookshop in Brooklyn. It feels fitting, especially after learning about Apollo’s career choice, and seeing how very “New York” the book is. The book is the story of Apollo and Emma, a young couple in NYC. They experience the birth of their first child, but shortly after, Emma begins acting very strangely and then disappears. After meeting a stranger who seems to know where Emma is, Apollo takes a journey to find her and uncovers secrets about his family and the world he lives in. I really liked this book. For one thing, Apollo and Emma felt very vibrant as characters. I also liked how the book weaved together social issues and New York life with fantasy and legend.
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  • Jill
    May 31, 2017
    This received a Kirkus star and many good reviews, but for me the attempt at merging the magical realism/fairy-tale atmosphere with modern day technologies and parental anxieties missed the mark. I felt like there were many good ideas here, but possibly too many all thrown in together.
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  • Chris Eder
    March 31, 2017
    starts like love actually, then becomes rosemary's baby, then becomes jurassic park.
  • Sheilah
    March 1, 2017
    I seem to be on a roll with my Netgalley picks lately. The past three I have been granted have been thoroughly enjoyable, this strange trollish tale included.Lavalle was new to me, but I like the concept of the story. For many children, a common story they may have heard growing up was Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak, first published 1981. This tale tells the story of a baby that gets snatched by goblins and is replaced with an imposter. I remember this story from my own childhood. It alway I seem to be on a roll with my Netgalley picks lately. The past three I have been granted have been thoroughly enjoyable, this strange trollish tale included.Lavalle was new to me, but I like the concept of the story. For many children, a common story they may have heard growing up was Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak, first published 1981. This tale tells the story of a baby that gets snatched by goblins and is replaced with an imposter. I remember this story from my own childhood. It always drew me in and at the same time creeped me out. The Changeling is a re-imagined version of this, a story about mythical baby snatchers in our everyday world.The story starts off slow, but never boring. You get to know the characters intimately. You have a deep sense of who they are before the horror and adventure begins. At first, I thought the beginning was too drawn out, but I disagree with myself now. I enjoyed the backstory and the beginning, it allowed me to care for Apollo (the protagonist) and his desperate journey to understand his current chaos.If you have a fond memory of Sendak's tales, or even if you just enjoy a good mystical mystery, this story is deep and enchanting. I very much enjoyed this read and hope to explore more of Lavalle's work later on.The book is yet to be published, but I recommend adding it to your to read pile on Goodreads. Expected publication is June 13, 2017.https://cellardoorbooks.wordpress.com...
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  • Laurie
    May 7, 2017
    “The Changeling” starts out slowly. Apollo Kagwa is the son of a hard working nurse and a father who abandoned them when Apollo was four. When Apollo meets Emma Valentine at the library, and they get married and she gets pregnant, he vows he will be a father who gets it right. He’ll be there for his child, an attentive and loving father. He changes, bathes, and feeds his son Brian. He takes him to the park and takes tons of pictures of Brian, and uploads every one of them to Facebook. It never o “The Changeling” starts out slowly. Apollo Kagwa is the son of a hard working nurse and a father who abandoned them when Apollo was four. When Apollo meets Emma Valentine at the library, and they get married and she gets pregnant, he vows he will be a father who gets it right. He’ll be there for his child, an attentive and loving father. He changes, bathes, and feeds his son Brian. He takes him to the park and takes tons of pictures of Brian, and uploads every one of them to Facebook. It never occurs to him that this could attract the wrong kind of attention. Since he was young, Apollo has been making money by buying and selling old books. He does okay; he and his wife have been able to buy an apartment. But while it pays the bills, he’s never had a big find, the kind of find that would give them a cushion. This changes when he finds a first edition of “To Kill a Mockingbird”- inscribed by the author to Truman Capote. This could be the break he’s been looking for. He involves his best friend, Patrice, a fellow book man, who is war veteran and cyber genius. But disaster is around the corner. Emma seems to have contracted postpartum depression, claiming that Brian is not their son anymore, that he’s been taken. She performs a horrific act that lands Apollo in the hospital, and vanishes. Thus begins a quest of revenge.This story combines cyber stalking and Old World fairy tales; it’s horror, urban fantasy, and ‘regular’ fantasy all put together. It portrays the dangers of internet oversharing, trolls, and being a person of color on the streets at night. But the heart of the story is how love will make a parent go to any lengths to save their child. The story might have started slowly, but it built up steam fairly quickly and sucked me totally in. It’s an edge of the chair read, impossible to stop reading. You cannot predict what will happen next – there are so many strands of story- and I enjoyed the characters.
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  • Elisa
    May 29, 2017
    It's hard to describe the plot or even the genre of this novel. The introduction says that it is a fairy tale. A very dark, adult one. There are witches, monsters and a hero who may not be perfect but is really trying. Apollo's existence is the result of a series of circumstances (and whose isn't?). His mother Lillian is an immigrant from West Africa who does her best to raise him after his father disappears. From her, Apollo learns to be a fighter. When he is older, he marries Emma - a libraria It's hard to describe the plot or even the genre of this novel. The introduction says that it is a fairy tale. A very dark, adult one. There are witches, monsters and a hero who may not be perfect but is really trying. Apollo's existence is the result of a series of circumstances (and whose isn't?). His mother Lillian is an immigrant from West Africa who does her best to raise him after his father disappears. From her, Apollo learns to be a fighter. When he is older, he marries Emma - a librarian. They have a son, Brian. Then everything unravels in the most horrific circumstances. As with LaValle's previous novel The Devil in Silver, mental illness is part of the plot. But how do you know if you're losing it? What if the monsters are real? And would you believe the person you love the most even if what they were claiming was impossible? I can't go into more detail because it'd be a shame to spoil the story. I went into it not knowing what it was about and this made the plot more surprising. The characters are so well drawn and, as in real life, my opinion on them kept changing depending on the circumstances. It is not a fast, easy read. Sometimes the prose meanders and it takes a while for the author to get to the point. But, just like with hero stories, it is the journey that's worth reading about. I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thank you, NetGalley/Random House!
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  • Jessica Woodbury
    May 15, 2017
    If you are a reader who struggles with books that involve small children in peril or mothers dealing with mental illness, you may want to give this a pass. This is a horror novel that takes those fraught topics head on. Even though it is often wrapped in the trappings of a fairy tale, it is still brutal and there were moments where I worried about the experience of a woman who's experienced PPD or something similar reading it, so consider yourself forewarned.With all that said, I never forgot fo If you are a reader who struggles with books that involve small children in peril or mothers dealing with mental illness, you may want to give this a pass. This is a horror novel that takes those fraught topics head on. Even though it is often wrapped in the trappings of a fairy tale, it is still brutal and there were moments where I worried about the experience of a woman who's experienced PPD or something similar reading it, so consider yourself forewarned.With all that said, I never forgot for one page that this is a Victor LaValle novel. Even when facing the darkest demons and meanest monsters, there is a lightness to his writing, a skip to his step, that runs through it. It is a story about mothers and fathers, the ones who stay and the ones who leave, and what it means to have that parental devotion. But if you are a first time parent with a little one in the house, this book might be a little too much. The fear parents feel is driving the horror here just as much as any evil creature. LaValle may be the most New York novelist writing today. His books live in the city real New Yorkers inhabit every day, his characters are people you recognize. Perhaps it is fitting that he writes stories where you never quite know what will happen next and where reality is never quite what you think it is, that's pretty New York, too.
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  • ck
    May 10, 2017
    VisceralARC courtesy Spiegel & Grau via Amazon Vine programVictor Lavalle is a gifted, driven storyteller, one whose skill borders on the unnerving. I started The Changeling with little more preparation than skimming the publisher's liner notes, fearful of having the impact of his story blunted by a recounting of the storyline. The early pages steadily drew me in because of the fluidity of Lavalle's storytelling and the just-perceptible undercurrent of unease ... a seemingly gentle series of VisceralARC courtesy Spiegel & Grau via Amazon Vine programVictor Lavalle is a gifted, driven storyteller, one whose skill borders on the unnerving. I started The Changeling with little more preparation than skimming the publisher's liner notes, fearful of having the impact of his story blunted by a recounting of the storyline. The early pages steadily drew me in because of the fluidity of Lavalle's storytelling and the just-perceptible undercurrent of unease ... a seemingly gentle series of tugs, similar to that of the stealthiness of the undertow at one of my favorite beaches where only the adept swim, and do so with all senses on full alert to the potential for risk.Ninety pages in, I paused, and had my first sleepless night. I was to repeat the cycle of rapt reading followed by unease and heightened alert several more times. This repeated sensation was more than the cool breath at the back of your neck when telling ghost stories late on a summer's night. Lavalle somehow is able to create images and sensations in the mind of the reader that fix on the thoughts and emotions that make our minds quake and our hearts tremble. With one notable exception, the horror -- for, make no mistake, that is what Lavalle evokes -- occurs off the page, in the reader's mind. It is no less the real for that, and infinitely more disturbing.
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  • Nannette
    May 17, 2017
    The ChangelingA Novelby Victor LaValleRandom House Publishing Group - Random HouseCourtesy NetgalleyThe Changeling is a novel about a man, Apollo Kagwa, who is raised by single very hard working mother. His father, Brian, disappeared when Apollo was 4 years old. Apollo grows up to be a book dealer. He attends yard, estate and library sales looking for that one rare book that will make him a fortune. Apollo meets Emma and it is first comes love, then comes marriage, than the baby carriage. The ba The ChangelingA Novelby Victor LaValleRandom House Publishing Group - Random HouseCourtesy NetgalleyThe Changeling is a novel about a man, Apollo Kagwa, who is raised by single very hard working mother. His father, Brian, disappeared when Apollo was 4 years old. Apollo grows up to be a book dealer. He attends yard, estate and library sales looking for that one rare book that will make him a fortune. Apollo meets Emma and it is first comes love, then comes marriage, than the baby carriage. The baby carriage is where the story takes a sharp turn towards the strange land of fairy tales.I struggled with The Changeling. It was not a book that I read straight through. I had to read a chapter at a time because I could not stay focused on it. The plot is interesting but I never really got drawn in by the characters. Had I connected with Apollo or Emma I might have done better with it. This is by no means a dismissal of the book. I think it will probably work for many readers. It just did not for me.
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  • Jennie
    May 29, 2017
    This book was described as a modern day adult fairy tale with a thriller/suspense aspect. Well think about Fairy Tales - most of the original ones were pretty scary. Kids going into the woods, eating a candy house and being taken by a witch - definitely scary. This book was at the high end of my limit for scary/horror. The realistic happenings and the possibility of how events came about were a little too close to my all of our lives and the way we use technology. The story starts with what seem This book was described as a modern day adult fairy tale with a thriller/suspense aspect. Well think about Fairy Tales - most of the original ones were pretty scary. Kids going into the woods, eating a candy house and being taken by a witch - definitely scary. This book was at the high end of my limit for scary/horror. The realistic happenings and the possibility of how events came about were a little too close to my all of our lives and the way we use technology. The story starts with what seems like a normal dysfunctional family, living a normal dysfunctional life but when the old and the new mix the fear is real. All the fears we may have that technology is inviting in anyone to our lives are realized in their most negative ways in this story. This story is not just scary but possible with some adult Fairy Tale thrown in.
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  • Annie
    May 14, 2017
    Apollo Kagwa thought he had the perfect life. He’s got his dream job as a rare book dealer. He’s deeply in love with his wife and they’re expecting their first child. Unfortunately for Apollo, he’s in a Victor LaValle novel, which means that things quickly get strange, dark, and dangerous. In The Changeling, Apollo soon finds himself in a parental nightmare that stretches back centuries...Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book for review consideration.
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  • Viva
    May 5, 2017
    2 stars = it was ok.Had a nice promising start but veered into literary cubism. It became hard to follow. It felt like the author was trying to go for artsy. Instead of straight trying to tell a story it felt like he was veering into abstract art. I still don't understand some of the passages because they weren't explained well - there are gaps which we are supposed to interpret. This is one of the few books I had to read the blurbs after 1/4 of the way through to figure out what genre it was an 2 stars = it was ok.Had a nice promising start but veered into literary cubism. It became hard to follow. It felt like the author was trying to go for artsy. Instead of straight trying to tell a story it felt like he was veering into abstract art. I still don't understand some of the passages because they weren't explained well - there are gaps which we are supposed to interpret. This is one of the few books I had to read the blurbs after 1/4 of the way through to figure out what genre it was and what I was supposed to be reading. I didn't like it but I guess it was an ok book. I would not recommend this.I got this book as a free advanced uncorrected proof.
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  • Melissa Fish
    March 14, 2017
    I was pleasantly surprised multiple times by this dark fairy tale. Victor LaValle's character development is beautiful, and he is wonderfully romantic, so it was a shock how frightening this got about halfway through. Some of the hunt/chase scenes went on a little too long for my taste, and I felt like things got muddled in the last third, but happily, it all comes together, so hang in there, because it's worthy.
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  • Jk
    May 4, 2017
    I received a free advance uncorrected proof copy of this book via the Goodreads Giveaways program and am thankful to anyone involved in making that happen!My rating on this one is closer to a 4.5. This is certainly the most unique and fun book I've read in quite a while. It is a multi-layered story that I will be pondering over for a long time to come. I don't consider myself a huge fan of magical realism and adult fairy tales but this one was really spectacular and I highly recommend it!
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  • Carol
    May 28, 2017
    Veered into too much surrealism for me, and too quickly-- things got very very weird and then weirder. And weirder. Good writer though. Recommended for YA readers.
  • Amanda Trivett
    March 25, 2017
    Uuuuugh this was SO GOOD. Live in this book for a little while when it comes out in June.
  • Casey
    April 20, 2017
    Wow. This one really grabbed me out of the gate. It lost a little steam along the way, but not much. Strong characters and an unthinkable event early drive the rest of the story. The story is vividly told, rooting itself in NYC and in the stage of early parenthood with accuracy and insight. I'm a bit wary of recounting plot elements since they are best experienced fresh. LaValle has forged his own reputation with "The Big Machine" and "The Devil in Silver," but if you need comparisons to other a Wow. This one really grabbed me out of the gate. It lost a little steam along the way, but not much. Strong characters and an unthinkable event early drive the rest of the story. The story is vividly told, rooting itself in NYC and in the stage of early parenthood with accuracy and insight. I'm a bit wary of recounting plot elements since they are best experienced fresh. LaValle has forged his own reputation with "The Big Machine" and "The Devil in Silver," but if you need comparisons to other authors, here are a couple: Stephen King has been mentioned for both this book and LaValle's novella "The Ballad of Black Tom." More specifically, I'd say "Pet Sematary," for this one. I also got some strong Lethem ("Chronic City" without the weed?) vibes, mostly due to the multi-boroughed setting and the story that starts realistically before adding supernatural elements one at a time. The Changeling supernaturally appeared on my Kindle via a free advanced proof from Net Galley.
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