Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Changeling” as Want to Read:
The Changeling
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Changeling

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  358 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
Here, the author of the acclaimed "Confessions of a Pagan Nun " takes us to fourteenth-century Ireland for a strange and luminous tale of the elusive nature of identity and of triumph in adversity. "The Changeling " is the story of Grey, a peasant girl who is raised as a boy, and who, until adolescence, never doubts herself to be male. The revelation of her womanhood marks ...more
Paperback, 339 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Shambhala Publications (first published December 30th 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Changeling, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Changeling

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinMiddlesex by Jeffrey EugenidesOrlando by Virginia WoolfTipping the Velvet by Sarah WatersTwelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Best Gender-Bending Books
136th out of 414 books — 268 voters
Alanna by Tamora PierceTwelfth Night by William ShakespeareLeviathan by Scott WesterfeldEon by Alison GoodmanIn the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
Girls disguised as Boys
160th out of 490 books — 623 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Patina Harrell
Aug 22, 2007 Patina Harrell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 25, 2007 Monica rated it really liked it
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.
Saurora Mirkin
Nov 19, 2007 Saurora Mirkin rated it really liked it
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.
Meredith Armstrong
Mar 02, 2008 Meredith Armstrong rated it liked it
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.
May 28, 2008 Alicia rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 04, 2008 Daestwen rated it really liked it
Pretty good - there is a real sense of time and period in the book, though it turned out to be pretty relentlessly depressing.
Jul 05, 2008 Marianne rated it liked it
Recommends it for: women
This book is about transitions in life. It takes place around the black plague in Europe. I tells of one woman's strenghth the survive the time, and the changes that occur based on the choices she makes. It's a very intriguing book and recommend it mostly to women.
Sep 15, 2008 Jenneen rated it it was amazing
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.
Jaclyn Goss
Nov 18, 2008 Jaclyn Goss rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction
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
Dec 01, 2008 Jane rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Mar 07, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it
I loved Kate Horsley's other book "Confessions of a Pagan Nun". Hoping this one's just as good.
Apr 02, 2009 Kira rated it liked it
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.
Feb 16, 2009 Frieda rated it it was amazing
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.)
Jan 06, 2012 Clara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sheila Judson
May 25, 2009 Sheila Judson rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 23, 2010 Richelle rated it it was ok
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
Dec 09, 2010 Sara-Anne rated it liked it
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
Lhizz Browne
Aug 24, 2010 Lhizz Browne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
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.
Dec 19, 2010 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What a strange novel...I thought the descriptive prose was quite good, and the storyline in some parts was captivating, but it was just too strange for me.
Oct 21, 2011 Bwenbourne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Susan Chisholm
Mar 30, 2012 Susan Chisholm rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 04, 2012 Jerri rated it liked it
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.

Alanna Rusnak
May 12, 2016 Alanna Rusnak rated it it was amazing
If you want a book to tear you wide open, this is certainly the one to do it. Horsley uses language that paints a vivid, dark, gorgeously hurtful picture of life in the fourteenth century. The character of Grey is one that will linger with me - her strength through unimaginable was just breathtaking.

This book did not make me feel good. It did not affirm a belief in the general goodness of humanity. There was little hope, redemption, or graces but there was a strength - the stre
Jul 23, 2013 Elisabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 24, 2013 Esme rated it did not like it
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.
Aug 15, 2014 Jackie rated it liked it
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.
Nov 28, 2015 Cassandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book evidences that Horsley can write a story with beautiful language and still have it be a story with a plot and characters instead of just flowery prose. After reading Confessions of a Pagan Nun, I was certain I'd either find Changeling to be a wonderfully written book, or another "book" with little plot, little characters, and overflowing with poetic language. I'm happy to say that this showcases Horsley's talents for prose perfectly while telling an intriguing and captivating story.
Feb 08, 2016 Megan rated it liked it
Parts of this were interesting, especially the society deteriorating in the Black Plague, but the gender-ID parts were lost after the first section or two.
Oct 23, 2016 Bonnie rated it really liked it
Another good Horsley book that submerged me into a different and unique sense of time, place, and self, which is what I want from a book. The only reason I'm giving this 4 and not 5 stars (though I'd probably give it 4.5 if I could instead) is that sometimes the writing feels a bit self conscious and contrived (as with other books of hers I've read). Mostly it's an immersive read, but every now and then I felt jolted out of the narrative when the writing seemed over done. Otherwise a unique stor ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What's The Name o...: Girl Named Grey/Gray Lives Disguised as a Boy [s] 3 129 Aug 27, 2012 08:53PM  
  • Nectar from a Stone: A Novel
  • Bending the Boyne: A Novel of Ancient Ireland
  • The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again
  • Terry Jones' Barbarians
  • The Mage Chronicles
  • Sister Girl
  • Ilario: The Lion's Eye
  • The Doctor: A Novel
  • Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders
  • Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction
  • Beguiled (Devoted, #2)
  • Idol of Bone (Looking Glass Gods #1)
  • I Am of Irelaunde: A Novel of Patrick and Osian
  • The Traitor Game
  • Heiresses of Russ 2011
  • And Blue Skies From Pain (The Fey and the Fallen, #2)
  • Triptych
  • Godmother Night
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
More about Kate Horsley...

Share This Book

“the greatest trick of kings is to fool the poor into thinking we have common cause with the rich simply because we live on the same bog. Then the poor get their heads split open in the battles they fight so the rich can keep their wine cellars well stocked.” 0 likes
“The Midwife talked to herself now, rather than God, as she walked the road past the Big Bog, wondering if a child born female could truly live her whole life as a male. And if this were possible and offended no god, then perhaps the world had no order other than what was arbitrarily imposed by humans.” 0 likes
More quotes…