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The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
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Oct 10, 10

bookshelves: young-adult-fiction, urban-fantasy-paranormal, love-story-romance, ghosts-dead-people, faeries-elves-pixies, horror, read-2010, to-re-read, stays-with-me, male-point-of-view, i-cannot-tell-you-my-secret
Recommended for: Fans of K. Creagh's "Nevermore" and D. Reeves' "Bleeding Violet"
Read from December 21 to 27, 2009

Financially you are very lucky indeed, if you are born as an inhabitant of the small town Gentry: Although all around the industry’s prospects are bleak, Gentry still flourishes. This astonishing piece of luck is something best not talked about. That is the consensus of the supersticious townsfolk. Equally hushed are murmurs concerning the random bad luck which eventually strikes among the community: Every now and then an infant suddenly dies.

Mackie Doyle knows that he, too, would have died as a baby – were it not for his sister Emma, who as a tiny girl nursed him back to health, in spite of the knowledge that the crib held a replacement instead of her brother, and his parents, Gentry’s Methodist preacher and his wife, who taught their changeling son from an early age to keep his otherness (intolerance of blood, iron and sanctified ground and also heightened senses) hidden on all accounts. Their caution even includes a "no-visitors-to-the-house" rule, because they fear their iron-free household might start the community's rumors. Therefore Mackie is quite at a loss when his moody and fierce classmate Tate, whose baby sister Natalie just recently “died,” pesters him of all people relentlessly for answers and help and seems to be immune to his habitual elusiveness.
As Mackie’s physical condition worsens, because being perpetually surrounded by iron and blood seems to poison him slowly causing breathing difficulties and fainting fits, and members of his people repeatedly appear, inviting him to return to the dark and underground "House of Mayhem”, he decides to try to find out what really happened to Natalie, to his town and to himself. His visit to one of the two dangerous female rulers of the supernatural realms puts him smack into the middle of a ruthless power struggle between evil in the shape of beautiful decay and maybe-evil-maybe-less-evil in the shape of an ugly, capricious little girl with too many teeth.

I am usually not a great fan of horror tales. I am rather the girl with her head between her knees when things become gruesome at the movies. But Brenna Yovanoff does this mixture of urban fantasy, love story and eerie, eerie, horror fiction so beautifully, so vividly, colorfully, tenderly and poetically I simply had to love it and to savor each description without closing my inner eyes. The disclosure of the shocking facts also works great for the reader: It is clear from the beginning that Mackie knows more than he lets slip, but his eyes get opened wider along with the reader’s.

Mackie is an unusual character, he stands out, but at the same time he is a quite normal sixteen-year-old: He admits admiring classroom bitch Alice because of her attractive exterior and detects only gradually the lovable layers of vulnerable daredevil Tate. I also liked how he interacted with the Morrigan – simultaneously tender and afraid.
I was always uneasy about Mackie’s parents: Was their love for their replacement son sincere? What did they hide? But I was kind of envious because of Mackie’s sister Emma and his best friend Roswell, who both loved Mackie so unconditionally and unwaveringly and chased away his fear of being an intruder within the human world and their lives. Brenna Yovanoff has a true talent of showing her readers love in all possible shapes – even that between antagonized celtic goddesses.

It's true, the world-building gets never fully explained. But if one reads the novel vigilantly, it becomes pretty clear that a complete understanding is not intended: “The Lady” illustrates at one point how her people has always been defined by the imagination, the superstitions and the limitations of the humans whose sacrifices, attention, admiration or fear keep them alive. They are what we imagine them to be. They are repelled by what we imagine them to be intolerant of. And that changes with our culture. Interesting, isn’t it?

This book is very good, Brenna. I like it and its ending as it is. It does not need a sequel!
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Quotes oliviasbooks Liked

Brenna Yovanoff
“Do you really want to know where we come from?" she said. "In every century, in every country, they'll call us something different. They'll say we're ghosts, angels, demons, elemental spirits, and giving us a name doesn't help anybody. When did a name change what someone is?”
Brenna Yovanoff, The Replacement

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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message 1: by oliviasbooks (last edited Jul 30, 2010 05:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

oliviasbooks Because this book was so good, so beautifully written and so original - review to come - I decided I had to own it in properly bound form and preordered the paperback quite soon after reading the manuscript. The - now freshly revealed - cover is very beautiful (don't get me wrong, I like it) but I am so very much in love with the hardcover one, because it fits the content like a glove. It's a little disappointing that Simon and Schuster did their own thing, when something nearly perfect was already there. Did they have to because of the rights? Additionally I do not picture Mackie blondish. Did I file the information concerning his outer appearance wrong or did the designers ignore something as usual?

~Tina~ This cover is nice, but I would have to agree and say that there is something very striking about the hard cover addition.
This book is already on my most anticipated list.
Can't wait!

message 3: by Alexa (last edited Jul 30, 2010 05:28AM) (new)

Alexa The cover is reminding me of Fallen's cover. o.o

message 4: by oliviasbooks (last edited Jul 30, 2010 06:08AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

oliviasbooks You are right - and although I haven't read Fallen - I do not think that is a good thing. Because The Replacement is really beautifully done horror and a great story of friendship and family. Fallen seems to be some romantic, mysterious bla-bla.
And I think of pouring rain and mud and eerie bridges when I think of Mackie outside - not some forest.

message 5: by Janina (new)

Janina I'm definitely going to read this! I think I'll wait for the paperback, though. January is not that far away. Great review!

~Tina~ I took my review down and will read this book again. Maybe I my mood was off when I read this, plus, I never did finish it. Great review!

message 7: by oliviasbooks (last edited Oct 07, 2010 01:35PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

oliviasbooks Oh, Tina. Two stars is not bad-bad. You felt that way. What's wrong with that? I often lose patience before the best parts have a chance to melt me. And then I bash the book around distributing 2 stars without remorse. You on the other hand did write that you would try again. I hope you still have that review somewhere to re-upload...

message 8: by ~Tina~ (last edited Oct 07, 2010 01:58PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

~Tina~ I do, but in all fairness I really don't think I tried to get into the book. I focused to much on Mackie and how sickly and depressed he was. My mood was in the way and I banished it to quickly I think. I'm going to re-read it again with a different mind set going in. If it ends up being two stars again, well, at least I gave it my full try:)
Remember when I almost gave up on Jellicoe Road? I would have missed out on a fantastic book;)

message 9: by Nic (new)

Nic Great review Olivia. I'm not a fan of horror but this does sound intresting. But like Tina, I think I would have to be in the right mood to read this.

message 10: by Arlene (new)

Arlene Okay, I definitely want to give this a try. What an awesome review Olivia!

message 11: by oliviasbooks (last edited Oct 08, 2010 04:58AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

oliviasbooks Nic, since you've liked Nevermore, I am pretty sure that the horror aspects will not overwhelm you. The amount of non-horror scenes that take place in school, at a keg party, at Mackie's house or at a music hall is comparable to that of the "normal" scenes in Nevermore.

message 12: by Nic (new)

Nic Thanks Olivia. I will certainly be giving this book a try soon :)

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