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The Changeling

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  328 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Kate Horsley tells the story of a young girl's search for identity in a brutal and unforgiving world. Set in an impoverished village in rural Ireland in the 1300s, Horsley's heroine must reckon with gender confusion, the hypocrisy of the Church, and widespread disease.
Paperback, 339 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Shambhala Publications (first published December 30th 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 671)
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Susan Chisholm
Wonderful storytelling. Intriguing place in history. I don't finish books that don't pull me in. Or rather when the storytelling falters, i skip to the end. I absolutely drooled over every word on every page of this novel. Horsely is an ambitious researcher with an active imagination that i want to peek in on regularly.
This book dragged on and on. Suffering. Misery. Plague. But I just never cared about the character enough to make it worth my while. What a disappointment.
This was the second time reading The Changeling of Finnistuath. The first time I read it was 9 years ago when it was first published. I remembered liking it, so thought I would re-read. I suppose that a more seasoned reading palate and some years of life experience have effected my response to this book.

The story starts out well enough with a very interesting scenario, and set in a great time period. Sadly, I became less enchanted by the book this second time around. The narrative is very involv
The personal changes Grey experiences in her very being reflect the changes in Ireland in the 1300s. This unusual novel illuminates the changes in how people of that time thought as influenced by the Church and by the Old Wisdom. And as an added bonus, the Plague.
Another accidental find, this time in my local library. This is a very sad book. Just as I thought Grey's life had change for the better, disaster strikes. Still, it's written very well, almost poetic.
Gregory, who becomes known as Grey, is raised as a boy. Despite the onset of puberty she never realizes she is female, until one particular incident in her young life. This leads her on quite a journey, of which I will divulge nothing. No spoilers here!
The main characters all seem to be dealin
Jaclyn Goss
Not to be confused with the novel connected to angelina jolies newest movie. The changling follows a girl who is brought up as a boy. Fearing loosing her child to the anger of her husband, she raises her daughter as a boy, fooling both child and father, by convincing them both she has very deformed genitals. Through shame the girl grows up the pride of her father, and the secret of her mother, only to be pushed finally in the direction of the church. Unfortunatly nature has it's own way of revea ...more
Sheila Judson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wow, this book shows how messed up life was during "The Dark Ages." Grey is born a girl, but raised as a boy so her father will not kill her. He already has enough daughters to feed. She never doubts she is a boy until puberty, when she begins to think the changes in her body are a curse brought on by disobeying the priest to whom she is a servant "boy." The corruption of the church and that part of her life where she wanted to become a monk was confusing and that part of the story I did not lik ...more
While I liked the concept and the plot of this novel, I think it would have greatly benefited by having the narrative be more closely tied with the protagonist. Grey, the protagonist, is such an interesting character, first being raised to believe she was a boy, then finding forbidden love, eventually becoming mother, wife, and warrior. I would have loved to have been more inside Grey's (what must have been) tumultuous mind. However, Horsley tends to write very distantly from her characters and ...more
I would have given this book a higher rating of 4 had it had a better ending. The entire book was great and I really enjoyed it, but the ending left something to be desired.
I found this book while looking for the book that the latest movie The Changeling was based on. Turns out the movie was based on a true story and not a novel, but the search lead me on this interesting side road. This novel is set in 14th century Ireland, and tells the story of Grey, a girl who was brought up as a boy until her teens. Sounds bizarre, but Horsely makes it believable. She continues to search for an identity, and the setting provides an opportunity for some interesting history.
Saurora Mirkin
just adding it now because there is a movie coming out of the same name, but not based on this book. I really liked this book, though it was not what I'd consider a "serious" piece of literature. It skirts around interesting dilemmas relating to gender, power and history, all within a story set sometime in an imagined, more tribal past, so it has that historical fiction feel without the ties to actual history. An entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking read.
Fabulous book about 1400 Century Ireland where a peasant girl is raised as a boy, and who, until adolescence, never doubts herself to be a male. The book follows this unique individual through her childhood as a boy; through her adolescents as... confused; through her young adult life as a young maiden being abused in the church; through her adult life as a mother; and finally as an elder who can take the lessons learned throughout all aspects of her life.
Beautifully written and you can not imagine the amount of tears that flooded from my eyes when I finished it.
Lovvvveeedddd iiiittt
Oct 24, 2013 Esme rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
This is a book that starts strong and then becomes a morass of symbolism, navel gazing, and jump cuts in plot and character developments. Time is spottily devoted to developing different aspects of the plot and the resulting narrative has the audience grasping at straws trying to decipher what is important an what should be tossed aside as tonal dreck.
While I've loved all of Kate Horsley's other books and had counted her as a favorite author, this one was not impressive. The writing was fine, but I didn't care at all for the subject matter of a boy who doesn't know she's a girl being whored out to sexually promiscuous and sexually violent monks. Yuck. I might not read another Horsely after this one.
So far it seems really good. I got through 43 pages during my lunch half hour, and that was with distractions. I'm looking forward to sitting down and immersing myself completely. :)

Ok.. I loved the book... until the last 20 pages. Then. It changed. It went Awry. In the worst possible way. I may have to write myself a new ending.
This was a very thought-provoking read, that much is for sure. I won't go into the whole summary which you can read at the top, but I will say this: I am very disturbed by just how harsh life was for my ancestors. The Changeling brings to life the misery and suffering of daily life in Ireland set amongst the 1400's.

If you love novels of the medieval age, be sure to give this book a try. It is rich in language and in description of the Dark Ages. The characters are compelling, each offering "layers" of personality and dimension. Wonderfully entertaining and thought-provoking. (This book was available in my local library as a hardback.)
Patina Harrell
ok so i liied i didn;t read this book completely...i just can't, i really enjoyed pagan nun and i liked this book but after renewing it twice i think i have to give up and admit it just isn't the time to read it....i hope some of you have better luck and I hope to one day come back to this book
Meredith Armstrong
Just as luscious in prose as "Confessions of a Pagan Nun." I was a little disappointed in the last section of the book. It felt a bit rushed. Otherwise, I loved it.
I like this books on a lot of different levels and it had a lot of great ideas. However, I don't think finding out you are a girl would be quite as mentally uncomplicated as told. Yet, for the story's sake that part is fine.
I don't think this book is particularly amazing, but it really affected me somehow. I just found the premise so interesting. The ending was a little bit of a let down for me, however. But, still worth the time.
Lhizz Browne
Very lyrical writing and an intriguing premise. It is a timely reminder, along with Connie Willis' "Doomsday Book", of the impact that the Black Death had on the culture and outlook of the people living at the time.
I loved Kate Horsley's other book "Confessions of a Pagan Nun". Hoping this one's just as good.
I love this writer. Wild story set in the Middle Ages of a girl raised as a boy. A survival story, love story, and history combined. Unique way of looking at the world.
Maree Kniest
I love this book so much. I have read it twice and it is an incredible story with a very well imagined main character. It is a book that you will wish could go on and on.
Tessa Hatheway
Often poignant, beautiful writing with a clear, artfully delivered theme. At certain points, however, characters were difficult to engage with on a human level.
Deborah Drake
Sep 13, 2009 Deborah Drake rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Yes, yes, yes
Another strong historical fiction that inspires deep thinking about the genders, spiritualisty vs religion and love. A page turner from the start for me.
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What's The Name o...: Girl Named Grey/Gray Lives Disguised as a Boy [s] 3 128 Aug 27, 2012 08:53PM  
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Born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1952, Kate Horsley Parker, the youngest of five children, loved to read. Her mother, Alice Horsley Parker, inspired that love, which is part of the reason that she chose to write under her mother’s maiden name. In her mother’s world, young women were to be educated and refined and passionate. While in a private girl’s school in Virginia during the sixties, Horsley pr ...more
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