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M 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 uickly 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 ar. Reading this book felt exactly like turning the crank on one of those souvenir flatten your penny machines you turn it over and over and over and over with very little resistance imagining all the time that it s what you wanted to be doing and it feels like you re making no progress whatsoever but you keep doing it anyway for what seems like forever and then clunk you re done you just paid 26c and got back a penny that is no longer worth anything at all

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The Changeling

E nothing like he’d imagined His uest 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 ueens 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 lo. I think this book went over my head I cannot be uite sure but I do think so I had the overwhelming feeling of just missing something here and I cannot uite put my finger on what that was Bear that in mind while I try to figure out my thoughts while writingIn this book we follow Apollo and his wife both before they meet and after they have had their son For about a third of the book there is some menace lurking but mostly the story is whimsical and uite lovely until suddenly it shifts gears in the most traumatic way possible and Apollo s life spin out of controlThis book is genre defying in a way I usually absolutely adore it is fairy talesue in its whimsy and its freuent re telling of familiar stories it is horrifying beyond measure in a way that makes It seem uaint it is a social commentary cleverly disguised as a page turner it is a book about family and love and trust and the lengths we can go And writing this down makes me want to change my rating but ultimately there were long stretches here where the book lost me I found Apollo a difficult character to root for in the single mindedness of his approach He reacts than he acts and I like how this mirrors the way Germanic fairy tales are structured and flip flops in his understanding of what is going on in a way that made being so close to him frustratingThe tonal shift I spoke about earlier first works brilliantly the silent horror of the earlier scenes are full of foreboding and impressively rendered I shudder to think of the first scene of Emma receiving a message that then disappears so simple and so effective and build the perfect crescendo to that scene if you read the book you know which one I mean After that the book seems to lose a bit of steam important scenes are told in flashbacks some strands of the story never go anywhere and the reader is expected to go along for the ride which sometimes worked better than other timesI think ultimately my enjoyment or maybe sometimes lack thereof comes down to genre preference The whole book felt so unfair And I do not deal well with unfair It makes me feel anxious and stressed and doesn t compel me to pick a book up But nevertheless this is in parts a brilliant book with many many clever things I will be mulling over for some time to comeI received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Canongate in exchange for an honest reviewYou can find this review and other thoughts on books on my blog

Victor LaValle » 7 REVIEW

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 MachineApollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood An antiuarian 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 hi. 4ish starsI was hesitant to read this because I didn t love the author s most recently written novella The Ballad of Black Tom but after a few key recommendations I decided to pick it up And I m glad I did I loved the characters and enjoyed LaValle s creepy atmospheric magical NYC The first uarter of the book or so is really chill We meet the characters particularly married couple Apollo and Emma who are cool and relatable and who we grow to enjoy spending time with There s some creepiness and nightmares lurking in the background but for the most part things are just enjoyable floating along Then BOOM Out of nowhere we get a boiling pot of water poured over our heads to wake us up That early instance may be the most disturbing but there s plenty of freaky unsettling stuff throughout the rest of the novel I especially enjoyed the dialogue of the characters and for the most part I liked LaValle s prose as well He does a great job blending real life horrors trends conflicts tensions and status uos with the horrific monsters of fantasy and fairy tales although I found the real life horrors to be much frightening and engaging After reading I realize there are a lot of uestions left unanswered but not in a way that seems intentional Perhaps plot hole is too strong a word It s kind of bugged me and affected my overall experience with the book I feel like it s the kind of book that reuires a second read to pick up on a few of those Maybe eventually I ll read it again and shed some light but who has time to re read books when there s a mountainous TBR pile lurking menacingly in the background Posted in Mr Philip s Library


10 thoughts on “The Changeling

  1. says:

    4ish starsI was hesitant to read this because I didn't love the author's most recently written novella The Balla

  2. says:

    455 starsApollo Kagwa grew up without a dad and now that he's a brand new father himself he is determined to be there for every second of his son's life Every second that is until his wife suddenly crazily gets it into her head that their baby is not their baby at all but some thing else entirely Apollo thinks she's out of her mind with lack of sleep and overwhelming responsibility but is she really? If so w

  3. says:

    Spectacular A modern fairy tale but not the sweet kind of the sort the Brothers Grimm told a fairy tale with all the gruesome bits left in Apollo Kagwa is not your typical New Yorker; he's a self made bookseller with a love for and

  4. says:

    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 i

  5. says:

    starts like love actually then becomes rosemary's baby then becomes jurassic park

  6. says:

    Reading this book felt exactly like turning the crank on one of those souvenir flatten your penny machines you turn it over and over and over and over with very little resistance imagining all the time that it's what you wanted to be doing and it feels like you're making no progress whatsoever but you keep doi

  7. says:

    I think this book went over my head I cannot be uite sure but I do think so I had the overwhelming feeling of just missing

  8. says:

    This is my second Victor LaValle and after the Ballad of Black Tom having washed through me and left me wanting so much I was very very happy to be reading this It has a very different feel in one way but in another it's exactly like coming home Being in the story you always want to be in What do I mean?The devil is in the details It's very homey feeling like delightful snapshots of family and home full of the

  9. says:

    The difference between understanding what one sees and seeing what one’s understanding permits is central to psychological realism in fiction For Victor LaValle this difference can also be explained when our understanding is asked to cross the boundary between the real and the uncanny His dark fable The Changeling is the story of Apollo Ka

  10. says:

    THE CHANGELING by Victor LaValle is so damn brilliant Mash up of complex parental anxieties life in Trumplandia and dark fairy tales