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Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published May 24, 2012

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About the author

Philippa Gregory

162 books32.9k followers
Philippa Gregory is one of the world’s foremost historical novelists. She wrote her first ever novel, Wideacre, when she was completing her PhD in eighteenth-century literature and it sold worldwide, heralding a new era for historical fiction.

Her flair for blending history and imagination developed into a signature style and Philippa went on to write many bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl and The White Queen.

Now a recognised authority on women’s history, Philippa graduated from the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Regent and was made Alumna of the Year in 2009. She holds honorary degrees from Teesside University and the University of Sussex. She is a fellow of the Universities of Sussex and Cardiff and an honorary research fellow at Birkbeck University of London.

Philippa is a member of the Society of Authors and in 2016, was presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Historical Fiction Award by the Historical Writers’ Association. In 2018, she was awarded an Honorary Platinum Award by Nielsen for achieving significant lifetime sales across her entire book output.

She welcomes visitors to her site www.PhilippaGregory.com.

Philippa's Facebook page:

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,388 reviews
Profile Image for Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews).
1,695 reviews875 followers
July 16, 2012
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

This is a mess. I've long since grown out of most of my misguided, uneducated affection for Philippa Gregory novels, but any lingering chances I will read her subsequent novels were firmly ended by this read. From beginning to end, this is a dull, vapid and uninvolving novel. Full of undeveloped, one-dimensional and just plain boring characters, with little to no plot to speak of, there's nothing to recommend about Changeling. It's a sloppy and anachronistic mess of a book, and one that doesn't leave much hope for the rest of this series. Simply and best put: Changeling is a disappointing mess, even for those who have grown inured to Gregory's ham-handed attempts to write historical fiction.

Changeling is supposedly the tale of two (very dry, very flat) protagonists, Luca Vero and his female counterpart of Isolde of Lucretili. It's hard to connect with these cardboard cutouts masquerading as characters, and even more difficult with their cliched background characters of Freize and Ishraq. I don't have anything to say about either protagonist; both Luca and Isolde failed to come to life as people, nor gave me cause to invest in their respective stories. There's no real "mystery" to anything that Luca investigates, nor is the "changeling" label ever fully explored by the author. It's mentioned maybe twice, and then... just dropped in favor of a ill-fated (and inauthentic) romantic plotline between two sets of characters.

With no plot to speak of and with the adventures the group encounters coming across as sporadic, unrelated vignettes, it's hard to get a clear picture of the world that Gregory is attempting to create here. Is the supernatural real? Where are my alchemists and death dancers I was promised? This is an "Order of Darkness" novel, the first in an expected series, but bare lip service is paid to the idea of an overarching theme or message. This is Gregory's weakest effort on many fronts, and it shows throughout the dialogue-heavy novel, and badly. Events and reveals, plot twists are all predictable - from the twist about Isolde's fortunes to the "mystery" of the stigmata and poisoned nuns - each new revelation failed to achieve the any impact author was going for.

Changeling is affected, obvious and anachronistic. This review is unexpectedly hard to write because I cared so little about anything that was going on, nor about the main characters. Gregory's earlier novels aren't "good" per se, but they at least managed to entertain the reader, instead of bore them to tears, as this one does. You would think a novel with a trail about possessed and poisoned nuns would be a little more riveting. You'd be so so wrong. Lacking any significant character development, with a staid and predictable plot, Gregory is better suited to staying in the genre she's come to dominate. Stick with her fluffy, bodice-heaving novels and stay far, far away from Changeling.
Profile Image for Cora Tea Party Princess.
1,323 reviews802 followers
February 5, 2013
Did people have handguns in 1453? Would a teenage monk know what one sounded like?

Unfortunately, I was put off by the very first sentence of this book:
"The hammering on the door shot him into wakefulness like a hand-gun going off in his face."

I'm not convinced. Is this just bad imagery or is it awful research?

Perhaps if someone can show me historical records showing that a 17 year old monk could know what a hand-gun sounded like, then I will read. A hand-gun mind, not one of the musket-style guns I know they would have access to in those times.
December 9, 2017
3.5 stars

The year is 1453 and I like me a book that starts off in a dark dungeon of a castle in the middle ages! Blame it on the season or my mood, but I found books 1-3 of The Order of Darkness in a used book store and when I can get books in a set, I somehow think I am the luckiest person on Earth to have found them.

I have not once read a Philippa Gregory book before and from what I understand, this series was her first attempt to write for the YA audience. There are many mixed reviews on it and so here is my impression without it being shadowed or tainted by any of her other works that I cannot judge or compare against.

In the Italian countryside near Rome, Luca Vero is ordered to travel through the Christendom and its edges to investigate any wrong doings or curiosities that would suggest evil or unchristian practices by the devil or other spirits. Call it a guard or police if you will.

Parallel, Isolde, 17, has been sent to become a nun at this monastery to forego her inheritance as Lady Abbess. Trapped in this situation, she is conspiring a plan to escape in any way and right a situation that has been going on at this nunnery for a long time. This is the point where Luca Vero comes in to investigate at the monastery and the two of them meet for the first time. Have I mentioned yet, that Luca is a very handsome 17 year old? Well, there you have it.

Although you would immediately conclude a budding love story, it did not go there in this novel…..at least not how you may think. However, there were some unexpected, peculiar things happening, that I did not expect at all:

"The two girls had their sleeves rolled up and were blood-stained to the elbows, standing over the dead body of Sister Augusta......wielding a bloodied knife in her hand, disemboweling the dead girl" -p.135

"Sisters! Kill him!" The nuns, pale and dull-faced, formed themselves into an unbreakable circle, like a wall of coldness, and took one step toward the three men and then took another step closer. - p175

So what the heck is going on at this monastery?
Well, if this doesn’t seem strange…it gets even better. From bandits in the countryside to werewolves tormenting a town that Luca is investigating......

The end of book 1 is left to continue in the next book and I venture to guess Luca will further guard and roam around in his jurisdiction. I found the flair of this novel to remind me a bit of Robin Hood or the Princess Bride. Written to appeal to today’s reader, yet atmospheric and not too heavy. I was certainly not expecting any of the things that happened in this novel and was rather surprised, but I am not sure if that would be the case for any experienced fantasy reader. I’d consider this an ease into historical fantasy, and for Gregory’s first YA novel, it wasn’t a bad start. Definitely worth to try the next one in this series.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Drake.
429 reviews90 followers
June 24, 2012

This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes

Cover Impressions: The cover is pretty, but expected. It makes it appear that Isolde is the main character when, in actuality, the plot follows Luca for a majority of the time. I was glad to see the omission of the "heaving bosoms" that normally accompanies this type of cover

The Gist: Seventeen year old Luca is accused of heresy and thrown out of his religious order for using math to prove that it is impossible for all of the relics from the true cross to be real. He is quickly recruited by a secret order and sent on a mission to hold an inquiry into strange occurrences. Isolde has been cast out from her home upon the death of her father and forced to vows at a nunnery and serve as their lady superior. When the sisters began acting strangely and complaining of strange dreams and stigmata, Luca is sent to investigate.

Review: I was pretty disappointed by this one. I have read a lot of Philippa Gregory's books (though I haven't really enjoyed the latest ones) and was hoping for the same sense of excitement that I got while reading The Other Boleyn Girl. Instead, I got a watered down romance, predictable storyline and characters who were barely tolerable.

When we meet Luca, we are told that he has a remarkable head for numbers and that these skills led to him being called a Changeling (my definition: a child that is left behind by the faerie folk to be raised in a human household). Take note of this BECAUSE IT NEVER COMES UP AGAIN! Seriously. He never uses these mysterious mathematical skills and, despite the title of the book, we never find out anything about whether or not he is a changeling. As a character, he is boring as heck. He never does anything exciting or unexpected, his manner of speaking is flat and unaffected and he switches between allowing others to take charge and pompously reminding them that he is supposed to be leading this investigation.

Isolde has been promised by her father that, upon his death, all the lands and the kingdom would be hers. She has been raised to be the lady of the house and taught how to maintain her lands and keep her people fed and safe. Yet, on his deathbed he supposedly recounts all of this and gives her the choice between marrying a particularly disgusting man or joining the nunnery. Isolde is told all of this by her brother (her father apparently refused to see her at the end) and never questions the authenticity of his claims. When she asks to see the will, he gives her a COPY instead of the original and then sends her would-be husband to rape her. That's right folks, her brother tells his buddy that he can exercise his matrimonial rights before she has even accepted and (I think) within 24 hours of her father's death. And STILL Isolde doesn't think he is lying about her inheritance. FFS! How dense can you get? For the rest of the book, Isolde continues to be boring and is in constant need of rescuing. The only characters that show any type of promise are the servants Ishraq and Freize and even they are not nearly as interesting as they could be.

This book holds an odd place in the genre spectrum. It is not quite realistic enough to be true historical fiction nor is it strange enough to be paranormal fiction. The blurb promises werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers but doesn't actually deliver on either werewolves or witches and I can only assume the alchemists and death-dancers will be featured in the next book. The plot is sloooooowwwwww and concentrates far too much on traveling and interviewing people. It really feels like two separate stories; one that features the nunnery and one a village with a werewolf. The stories felt disconnected, almost like two novellas that were strung together in an attempt to make a full book, and no progress is made on any of the over-arching issues (Luca's mysterious new order and his heritage or Isolde's disinheritance).

For most of this book I found myself waiting for it to be over and wishing that I had chosen to read something else instead. I do not think I will be sticking around for the next in this series.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

Age: 13 and up
Gender: Female
Sex: None
Violence: Death by Poison, Death by Fire
Inappropriate Language: None
Substance Use/Abuse: Drinking Wine/Ale
Profile Image for druidessprincess.
135 reviews61 followers
August 11, 2012
I am in shock. I bought this book with an open-mind, and I don't mind admitting, a slight sense of (misguided) anticipation for what Philippa Gregory might have to offer a younger audience. What this YA readership got was...utter tripe. This book is just plain terrible. Horrendous. Boring. Just...awful. Here's why.

The novel was an abominable mess.

Let's start with the characters. I didn't care or even like a single one of them. They were either one-dimensional, boring, unlikable, ridiculous, or all of the above. There was zero characterization. Zero character development. Zero development of character relationships. There wasn't even any interesting dialogue. Gregory created two protagonists with absolutely zero appeal, substance, or real interaction, for that matter. Wasn't this supposed to be a romance? A supernatural romance? If not the former, then certainly the latter. Their relationship couldn't have been further from romantic. There wasn't even a relationship, to speak of. They barely interacted at all. There wasn't anything supernatural about this book either for that matter, but I'll get to that later.

The protagonist Luca - a dried up, cardboard, quotidian character, monotonously described as a "beautiful" 17 year old man,(Gregory apparently felt the need to remind us of Luca's 'beauty' on a continual basis throughout the novel, as if this insignificant detail was the cardinal requirement to the books YA genre status) but in all honesty, I couldn't care less about what the guy looked like. He had the personality of a knat. Same goes for Isolde, the female protagonist (if one could even call her that - what exactly was it about her that was 'central' to anything?). Nothing about her endears the reader. She is beautiful (there's the prerequisite "b" word again!)...and completely vapid. Gregory paints a colorless picture. Luca and Isolde's interactions are tedious, trite, and clumsy. There is no potential (in my view) for the reader to fall in love with any of the characters here. They were all as insipid as the plot.

And on that note: the plot. The first 150 pages of the book was a thin and flimsy mystery, with glaringly obvious clues and plot details that left me in total disbelief that Gregory expected anyone to buy into the mystery - did she honestly think she was enthralling her readers with her blundering red herrings? Seriously, It was just plain weak. And then the plot seemed to resolve itself and come to some closure (or so I was hoping). I feel the entire Abbey-mystery concluded by page 180'something, with no real reason to continue reading. But then the story takes an ungainly turn into Gregory's ham-handed attempt at a heightened element to the plot - something supernatural. A werewolf (I can almost picture Gregory's smug expression of self-satisfied accomplishment) - that's what the kids want these days, Right? Wrong. Not like this. I skipped ahead so often in the remaining 75 pages, I can't count. And, guess what? I'm fairly certain I missed...nothing. Because nothing happened. Not even the supernatural twist the book promised. Turns out it wasn't a werewolf after-all. Oh well.

A part of me feels like I should have seen it coming - so then why do I feel so disappointed? I don't really know what I was expecting (I enjoyed reading Philippa Gregory's Tudor series many years ago, but had not read anything by her in years), but it certainly wasn't something this poor. For a best-selling author (whether you enjoy her writing or not), I was expecting so much more respect for her readership. I can't tell if she sold her readership VERY short, or just couldn't be bothered to make the effort. If I imagined I might be reading more Philippa Gregory in the future, then "Changeling" firmly banished the thought forever.
Profile Image for Lili M..
51 reviews
August 4, 2018
Autoarea are darul de a crea o intriga deosebita , cu personaje bine conturate si puternice si cu niste intorsaturi fantastice de situatie , care te implica suta la suta in actiune.
Extraordinara aventura fetei care , dupa moartea tatalui, cade victima jocurilor diabolice ale fratelui sau , care ii ofera doua posibilitati neatragatoare : calugaria sau casatoria cu un prieten al sau, badaran si respingator.
Ea se va intersecta cu novicele calugar , care va fi investit, in ciuda tineretii si lipsei sale de experienta, sa cerceteze diverse cazuri ca inchizitor, ajungand si la manastirea unde fata devenise de nevoie abatesa, secondata de unealta fratelui ei, maica econoama.
O carte incitanta pe intreg parcursul ei , inclusiv episodul in care novicele cerceteaza cazul cu presupusul varcolac ce atacase un sat, episod cu un sfarsit asteptat dar foarte bine povestit.

Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,718 reviews856 followers
February 9, 2023
What a snoozefest. My habit of avoiding blurbs continually comes back to haunt me. I thought this was a historical fantasy with some sort of shifter magic. It turns out Changeling was more of a historical mystery. While the idea of the Order of Darkness could have been interesting, it was devastatingly dry. There was so much dialogue, way too much of it. I needed more action and characterisation to act as filler scenes. At the very least, a more descriptive writing style could have breathed some life into the story. It lacked emotion and drive, plodding along with no real direction.

I am still confused about whether the magic in this world had an earthly, rational cause. Luca’s situation was never explained. Was he a changeling or not? Do fae even exist in this world? If not, what does the title mean? Were there any fantastical elements or was it purely historical fiction? I am so confused.

The characters themselves were bland. Freize showed promise with his humour and antics but the way he treated Ishraq was gross and off-putting. Luca and Isolde lacked personality too. I was glad that no romance was attempted between them, especially because Isolde and Ishraq‘s relationship was so much more developed. It honestly felt like queerbaiting. These two girls had an unbelievably close bond, even sharing a bed and bathing together unnecessarily, and talked about being together for the rest of their lives. Despite this, we are told they have a ‘sisterly’ relationship. What! Their relationship did not feel platonic in the slightest.

Overall? Boring. Dull. Uneventful. This was not the series I expected and I will not be continuing on with it. I cannot muster enough enthusiasm to care.

Trigger warnings for .

Representation: Ishraq (sc) is a Muslim woman of colour.

BlogTrigger Warning DatabaseStoryGraph
Profile Image for April.
2,101 reviews950 followers
October 14, 2012
Confession: I learned more about the Tudors from Philippa Gregory’s The Boleyn Inheritance than I did from 10th grade global studies and AP Euro in high school. Gregory has this talent for bringing history to life and infusing it with a hefty dose of drama. When the rumor started that she would be writing a YA series, I got super excited especially because Changeling, the first of the Order Of Darkness series takes place in Europe in 1453 and I always brake for medieval times.
Read the rest of my review here
Profile Image for Mahayana Dugast.
Author 5 books226 followers
January 5, 2023
This tale is like an excellent dish offered to you with all the best morsels in it (nuns, witches, potions & gold thieves!).
This historical novel is set in medieval times, when people were highly superstitious, and had trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality, leaving you, the readers, guessing, which I really enjoyed. Hence, I am super disappointed that the rest of this series is not on audible! :-(
Profile Image for Shaheen.
636 reviews71 followers
June 11, 2012
Having loved Philippa Gregory’s adult works, especially her Tudor Court novels, I have been anticipating her first YA novel for a long time. I was lucky enough to receive a review copy from the publisher, and I dove into it at first opportunity. Changeling exhibits all the traits I have come to love about Gregory’s writing – it vividly evokes the time it is set in, incorporates luscious descriptions of the gowns, castles and countryside and follows quirky and interesting characters with dark backgrounds.

As much as I love historical fantasy the treatment of women always manages to grate on me, and this book is no exception. However, I usually find the line between good and great historical fantasy lies in the way these women deal with their circumstances. Isolde, bound by her father’s will to live in a nunnery while her brother inherits, is not only strong and wildly independent, she is quiet about it, as one expects a women in her time to be. With an inquisitor around, I feel that laying low is her only option, and was glad to see her exercise common sense.

On the other hand, Luca strikes me as very typical for men with his position and upbringing. Although he never gives weight to the notions of abbey priests that the nunnery should be under their command, neither does he know how to handle a large group of women on the brink of madness. While his confusion is endearing, it just goes to show how men at that time expected to live out their days without ever having to even attempt to understand women, and his frustration that the nuns do not conform to his ideas is both worrying and hilarious at once.

I found the Young Adult aspect of the book to be overshadowed by its themes as a historical novel. Although it does follow teenaged characters who are both trying, desperately, to find their calling, and features a sweet romance, it lacks the rapid character development that appears in most YA novels. I don’t imply that this is a negative, however, this is definitely a positive aspect to the novel. For once, the girl is not immediately overwhelmed by the gorgeous boy, and neither is the boy struck dumb at her beauty. Yes, they find one another attractive, and towards the end of the novel they are playing with fire and trying to hide their regard for each other, but over all this aspect is played down in favour of chronicling the dark and mysterious things taking place around them.

Overall I really enjoyed Changeling immensely, after waiting for it for so long, and would recommend it to readers who enjoy both historical fiction or YA fantasy. I think the Order of Darkness series will have something for everyone, and I personally, am looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic .
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,156 reviews641 followers
September 19, 2015
Medieval mystery sprinkled with a light romance and an ample amount of intrigue. Changeling is Philippa Gregory’s worthy entry into the Young Adult genre, and I applaud her efforts. Well done!

When Luca Vero is captured and interrogated for heresy, he proves his brilliance and calculated intelligence which ultimately earns him a position with a religious order. The Order of the Dragon is commissioned to investigate questionable occurrences across Europe on behalf of the Pope. At the same time, Isolde is denied her inheritance after her father dies and is sent to a nunnery by her brother to serve as the Lady Abbess at the young age of seventeen. When Luca arrives to Isolde’s nunnery to investigate strange occurrences where the nuns in the abbey are experiencing visions, sleep walking, and suffering from stigmatas, Isolde is accused of witchcraft. Isolde flees with her trusted friend Ishraq and together they head to the only person she hopes can give her protection, her uncle. When Luca and Isolde collide once again, together they stumble upon tales of werewolves, alchemists and witches. An adventure that leads to uncovering mysteries and realizing a love between each other.

Luca and Isolde were perfect protagonists for this story. Together they strike a quiet and calm balance despite the turmoil that plagues their lives. I really liked their steady cadence and sharp intelligence. Despite the expectations and challenges that were placed on their shoulders, they handled their lot in life very well and it made me want to continue on with their story.

Ishraq and Freize were great secondary characters. They added a nice complement to story with their shrewd yet caring ways. I appreciated the loyalty they displayed for Luca and Isolde, and I’d like to see their storyline further develop. I want more for both of these characters.

I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying Philippa Gregory’s adult historical fiction, so I was curious how her skill would transfer to Young Adult fiction. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t attest to the accuracy of the time and elements, she’s more learned than myself in this area, so I do what I do best, which is suspend my reality and allow myself to be hypnotized by her storytelling. I enjoyed the adventure.
Profile Image for Sara Jesus.
1,149 reviews103 followers
August 5, 2017
Phlippa Gregory é uma escritora britânica famosa pelos seus romances históricos referentes a Dinastia Tudor. São bons livros essas biografias ficcionais mas as suas narrações não me convenceram totalmente. Centram-se muito só nalgumas personagens e nas intrigas da corte. A mim me agrada os romances históricos que conseguem me transportar para outras épocas!

Este primeiro livro da Ordem das trevas fez, finalmente, com que a escrita de Gregory me convencesse. Pelo seu ambiente medieval, as superstições e as fascinantes personagens. Luca, Isolde, Ishraq e Freize são figuras únicas. Luca pela sua sabedoria e a sua capacidade argumentativa; Isolde pelo seu desejoso de governar e ser independente (numa época em que as mulheres dependiam dos homens);Isharaq por ser uma viajante e guerreira ; Freize pelo seu atrevimente e a amizade sincera que tem com Luca.

É um romance que envolve aventuras e superstição. Um ordem que pretende defender a cristandade dos infiéis... Demonstra a desigualdade entre homens e mulheres. E a investigação de Luca com o objectivo de encontrar indícios do final dos tempos. Esses são alguns ingredientes essenciais deste livro que o tornam inesquecível!
Profile Image for ~Sofia~.
90 reviews22 followers
May 9, 2019
Right so, before I begin, I want to say how much I love Gregory’s novels. In fact I have never had a bad experience, well that is until now.

I am so disappointed!! When I heard the news that Gregory was writing a YA novel series I was over the moon! Finally something different, something fresh. Not that I am at all complaining about any of her other books, but well it’s nice to have something new isn’t it?

I began this with excitement, I read the first page eagerly, then the second and slowly it dawned on me, this is boring. Yup, totally boring. Gregory writing a boring book? No, never! I will be a faithful fan I thought, I will find joy in this somewhere! It didn’t happen. I would be kidding myself if I told you I wasn’t glad it was over. It dragged, it was a complete snooze fest, there was nothing of tremendous value, just religious folk getting the wrong the idea.

The characters were nothing to get excited about either, they seemed to be a bit bland? I will say Freize was the highlight in this novel, he had a bit more character to him amongst the blandness he was up against. Although he could be witty and charming, I do think if he was in any other novel he would be a bland character in comparison, but with the boringness going on around him, he really shone in this novel.

So despite not wanting to put myself through another 2 of these books, I just cannot leave a series unfinished, it is just not in me to leave it left on the shelf without its companions, so I will be reading the next two, and praying for a miracle that they get better. It genuinely hurts to give Gregory a bad review as she is my most favoured author and I am always raving about how amazing her books are. Maybe she should stick to what she is best at? Although no harm in trying something new? I am just glad that she has Tidelands coming out to hopefully put her firmly back in the top historical fiction spot.
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,757 reviews754 followers
October 24, 2016
While I did enjoy this book for the most part, there were some glaringly obvious discrepancies that I just couldn't get past. To the point were they quite affected my enjoyment of this story. The first being in the very first sentence of the book. How on earth would a seventeen year old monk in the year 1453 know what a handgun sounds like? A musket or something like that okay but a handgun? Really? So from the very beginning I was a little hesitant. The second was how juvenile the writing was. I know it's a YA story but I almost felt like it was being dumbed down and I feel like it didn't live up to its full potential because of that. But the story was interesting and quite surprised me in some parts so I wouldn't say it was a total miss!
Profile Image for Sarah (saz101).
192 reviews151 followers
September 23, 2012
Philippa Gregory's first venture into the Young Adult market was sure to garner attention. And surely enough, here we have Changeling, her first fully speculative novel, and her first aimed at Young Adults. Is it everything one would hope for and expect? Well, that depends on your expectations...

The Story
Seventeen year old Luca has been cast out of his monastary, accused of heresy. Alone in a cell, he awaits what he believes is his death. Instead, he is offered a second chance: use his brilliant analytical mind to debunk conspiracies, separate folklore and myth from the work of true evil. Become an Inquisitor for the Catholic Church. He takes it.

Meanwhile, beautiful, headstrong and wise seventeen year old Isolde mourns her father. Raised to inherit his lands and castle, she is horrified to learn his will betrays her: she is left with nothing. She may choose to marry a repulsive, abusive prince with little dowry, or take a vow of celibacy as a nun.

Months later, young Inquisitor Luca Vero travels to a nunnery plagued by whispers of stigmata, visions, possession, and its young mistress, a beautiful young girl named Isolde, is a key suspect. Unable to control events in the abbey, the two are thrown together into a web of mystery, intrigue and mistrust... which may just be the start of something no-one ever expected...

My Thoughts
Changeling is a difficult book to profile. Neither fast nor slow paced, it instead plods along, hopping from steady and measured to nail biting tension from one page to the next. Its various mysteries are cryptic and engaging, but most importantly, well developed. The most wicked of characters are still nasty and pernicious, but believable, with enough back story to lend their actions authenticity.

Despite its well-developed mysteries, Changeling is a short book, weighing in at only two-hundred and fifty pages, and it’s characterisation that seems to suffer the most from its length. With constant mid-scene head hopping between five point of view characters, there simply isn’t enough time develop each beyond the surface, or at the very least, for the reader to connect with them. Interestingly enough, it is not the titular 'changeling', Luca, or heroine, Isolde, that are the best explored, or indeed, likable, of the story at all. Supporting characters such as Frieze—kitchenhand-turned-personal-servant to Luca—and Isolde's constant companion, the beautiful, mysterious and deadly Ishraq, that are the story's most compelling.

Gregory deserves praise for her richly developed world, its settings growing deeper, more engaging and immersive at the story progresses. From lush woods, to sleepy village idylls hiding a pervasive undercurrent of fear and nunneries with walls whispering ominous secrets, Gregory writes of medieval Europe, its superstitions and fears as if she were there. But it’s this beautiful world that suffers the most from the novel’s faults. While Gregory is certainly a fine storyteller, weaving a compelling tale, rich with an extraordinary wealth of detail and research, Changeling’s prose is at times pedestrian, turgid with description, diluting the impact of a world already beautifully imagined.

Changeling's anachronistic language grated at times, for it is neither fully modern speech, nor a true approximation of Middle English. But this is minor bugbear, and the various characters’ interactions are the book's most engaging moments. Inversely, a novel rife with entirely modern or old English would receive its fair share of criticism, but a simile involving reference to a hand gun on the book’s first page felt out of place, even though such things do in fact fit (narrowly) within the story’s timeline.

The Verdict:
While certainly not a perfect book, Changeling has much to offer. From intriguing mystery, to a gorgeous medieval Europe that charmed and thrilled, Gregory’s young adult debut is unlike any other in the category I’ve read. While not the most satisfying story in and of itself, this middle-ages Scooby Gang tale is a perfect series setup, and one which will leave those readers charmed by its pages hungry for more.

Originally posted at saz101
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,336 reviews1,017 followers
May 7, 2012
I'll admit it's been quite a while since I read one of Philippa Gregory's adult titles but as soon as I heard about Changeling I knew I wanted to read it. I've been really enjoying historical fiction recently and as I have a love of anything paranormal I couldn't wait to find out more about these nuns who are being accused of witchcraft! Set in 1453 Changeling gives readers a great feel for the era and makes for fascinating reading.

Luca is extremely intelligent and has an aptitude for science (as much as was known at that time) and mathematics, he loves to learn and soaks up any new information that he can. Growing up in a monastery his abilities quickly get him into trouble and he is accused of heresy. Luckily rather than earning him a death sentence this gets the attention of the leader of The Order of the Dragon who knows that Luca's intelligence will be useful investigating a range of paranormal occurrences across Europe. Along with the clerk Brother Peter and Luca's close friend Freize who will act as their servant Luca sets out to investigate the events that people think herald the end of the world. Can he explain the unexplainable?

Isolde's father was obviously very forward thinking for the time period and he raised her as a leader, training her to take over his holdings and run things after his death. However, he changed his mind at the last minute and instead left everything to her brother. Isolde is shocked by what she considers his betrayal and when she refuses to marry the man he chose for her she has no other option than to join the nunnery. Although that is the last thing she wants she feels it is preferable to a forced marriage to someone that she detests and decides to make the best of things. Her faithful friend Ishraq accompanies her but is mistrusted by the other nuns because of the colour of her skin and her faith. When strange things start happening at the nunnery they blame Isolde and Ishraq and accuse them of witchcraft. Luca is sent to investigate and must try to uncover exactly what is happening, is someone really practising witchcraft and if so can he stop them?

I loved both Luca and Isolde and it was great to see things from each of their points of view as this really allowed us to get to know them both. They have good friends in Freize and Ishraq who were some of the best secondary characters I've come across in a long time - the banter between them all was fantastic. I enjoyed the dynamic between the whole group, particularly after they leave the convent so I'm looking forward to seeing more of that in the sequel. It was interesting to discover more about life during this period of history and see just how people could be made to think something supernatural was happening. It was easy to see how people could be fooled into believing things when they didn't have our knowledge of science to explain them. My one minor complaint was that it was made a little too obvious who was behind the events at the convent, I hadn't quite figured out the whole reason why they were doing it though so there was some surprise at the final reveal.

Changeling is a fantastic start to Philippa Gregory's new Order of Darkness series and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book. I'm excited about the potential for romance between Luca and Isolde but glad that this has been left for future books rather than rushed into too quickly. I also can't wait to see more of Freize and Ishraq who I think are going to have major roles to play as the series continues. I'll be recommending this series to any fan of historical fiction.
Profile Image for Christina.
287 reviews60 followers
September 9, 2012
Luca was to be a priest. Then he was suspected of something or other and sent to an inquisitor for questioning. To Luca's surprise, he was to become a member of a secret order that investigates reports of 'dark' occurrences. His first task is to look into an abbey and the abbess, Isolde.

Isolde is the daughter of a rich and well respected Lord. The Lord planned to split his properties and monies between Isolde and her older brother. According to her brother who forbid Isolde to be present at her father's deathbed, the Lord changed his mind and ordered Isolde to marry or become the abess. Isolde chose the latter, where she would come face to face with the young new inquisitor, Luca.

It is rare that I dislike a book so much I do not even finish it. Unfortunately, after 93 pages, I did not have the will to go on. I have a policy that I read 100 pages before passing this kind of judgment, but I just could not do it. Changeling was that bad. I think Philippa Gregory should fire her copy editor; he is obviously lazy. Gregory's copy editor must have assumed that since Gregory's previous books were so successful, this one would be no different. He was sadly mistaken.

The writing is atrocious; it is boring, repetitive and sometimes just plain dumb:

"Course I do! Course you are! Course you will!"

Really? Gregory was incapable of anything better than that, possibly, "Course I do! You are and you will." Gregory's version sounds and looks like a presidential campaign slogan.

And then the dumb just continues:

He found he was smiling at her, though he could not see if she was smiling back. "Lady Abbess, you are not an easy woman to interrogate"
"Brother Luca, you are not an easy man to refuse," she replied, and she rose from the table without permission and left the room.

This was after the Lady Abbess had refused to pull back her hood, told him if he ordered her to get rid of her companion she would disobey his orders and refused to immediately send another nun for questioning. In any other book I would say she was mocking Luca, but it actually sounds like Gregory is setting the scene for a love story and this is actually flirting! The horror!

I could over look these portions if they were not representative of the writing as a whole, but depressingly, they are. I do not know what happened here, but Changeling, through page 93 at least, was just awful and I wish I had the time back.

1 out of 5 stars.
September 15, 2012
philippa gregory's uber-popular adult historical fiction offerings are too racy for me, so when i saw this on the "New YA" shelf at my library, i was eager to give it a try.

oh. my. word. this book is really, really bad. truly, ridiculously, laughably horrible. i honestly wonder if this was actually written by ms. gregory, because it seems to be the work of multiple authors...each of whom had different characters in mind. seemingly key plot points are introduced and then abandoned by the wayside. and it gets worse the farther into the book you go. one character is rollickingly funny in a scene, and then not such a jokester in the next. another must be 15, but the author forgot, and he then seems to have lost ten years overnight.

i can only hope that ms. gregory's books on the nytimes bestseller lists are much different from this one, because otherwise i worry about my fellow readers.

pg13 green. but really, don't bother.
Profile Image for Sarah Mac.
1,078 reviews
April 30, 2015
A quick, enjoyable book, but nothing earth-shattering.

The premise: Luca is a monk-in-training (who may or may not be a Changeling) that's been recruited by a shadowy Order & set on missions to catalogue The End of Days -- that is, paranormal happenings across Europe. The entourage includes his buddy Freize & straight-laced scribe Brother Peter, & their first assignment is to solve the mystery of terrorized nuns at a local abbey. The abbess is a teenage girl named Isolde, who's been shoveled into the cloistered lifestyle by a greedy older brother, & Luca isn't sure whether or not she's involved. Eventually the true culprit comes to light, while Isolde & her servant Ishraq narrowly escape death by fire...but the ladies must beg Luca's protection as they travel to find Isolde's godfather. Both parties resume journeying together (there's safety in numbers, after all) until they're confronted with a superstitious village & a mysterious werewolf creature. Is it an instance of evil or a blessed miracle?

This book has a cool premise & nice grisly details, but I saw room for improvement in other installments. The characters were a bit flat; they had good details in their personalities, but the page count didn't allow for much development. I also think P.G. fell into a common trap & overly "YA-ized" the style from her adult fiction. Some dialogues were snappy & taut, but others were obvious First Book Backgrounding. Hopefully she makes the next books a bit longer, as that might cut down the rush-rush-rush atmosphere; some scenes are good (in particular, Luca's questioning of the nuns & the climax at the abbey) while others are wham-bam-crammed with talking heads.

Solid 3 stars. I didn't like the first line, oddly enough...but overall the writing was okay (though a bit shallow), & I'll be reading #2 to see where she takes things. Wouldn't recommend buying the dead tree edition, though, unless you preview via library or digital copy & fall in love.

[N.B.: this was a Buddy Read with Karla. Her review is here. I daresay it sounds very similar to mine, heh.]
Profile Image for Tracy.
552 reviews43 followers
June 21, 2018
I actually enjoyed the first half of this book. I didn't even mind the rest of it other than once they left the Abbey, the story began to drag.

I like Frieze and his sense of humor! He's a cute character.

It's certainly a YA book and I imagine if I were 12 again, I probably would've devoured this book and not had any complaints. I find more and more I just don't do so well with most YA books these days.

I did appreciate that this story had no love triangle and I think that's why I enjoyed it as long as I did!
Profile Image for Sarah.
146 reviews48 followers
July 31, 2012
Philippa Gregory has tried her hand at writing a young adult historical fiction book, only a slight departure from her other historical efforts. This time, though, the characters have nothing to do with either the Tudors or even England. I'm not convinced of the overall success of this enterprise, however.
(Possible spoilers ahead. Read at your own peril. Alternatively, read on to be forewarned.)

Let's start with characters:
Our heroine, Isolde, is introduced in the first chapter, as a young lady who has had somewhat more freedom than her average contemporary, and whose indulgent father is dying. Moments after his death, she is told by her supposedly kind brother that she will not inherit half the estate (as she and her father had agreed) but will either marry an old, fat pervert or be the Abbess of a nearby abbey. There is an attempted rape by said fat man (in which her brother's implicit approval is noted) and then she decides to go to the abbey to escape the horrors of her life to come.
At the abbey, despite allegedly being RAISED TO MANAGE AN ESTATE, she completely shuts down (partly out of grief, of course, but more out of authorial laziness), closes herself off from the world (except for her maid/friend/slave/token non-white character) and lets the abbey start to fall apart with horrible visions and stigmata. Throughout the book, she does nothing useful. Nothing. She is pretty and sad and needs to be rescued – even planning to go to Wallachia to get a man to help her. Oh, and she has a maid-friend that is a human Swiss Army Knife.

Our hero, Luca, was born in mysterious circumstances and given to a monastery in mysterious circumstances and has a mysterious way of looking at the world (hint: evidence- and fact-based calculations. HERESY!). In fact, his idea that FACTS are a way to prove/disprove things almost lands him in the martyrs' permanent penalty box, but instead gets him a role of Fear Investigator. Other than that, I have nothing to say about Luca.

There are a few other characters, too. I almost hate to mention them.

Ishraq is a Moor, raised since the age of seven by Isolde's father, but she retains a bone-deep affiliation with her, ahem, “culture.” Otherwise known as Plot Device, since she knows everything that needs to be known at the time it needs to happen. Need an expert archer? Ishraq can do it. Need an expert in medicine? Ishraq's on the case! Need an herbalist? Ishraq is a walking Field Guide to Medicinal, Heretical, and Vision-Granting Plants. Need to pan for gold? Ishraq knows the best way to do it. Need to disappear from a locked room, chained to the wall? Ishraq is part ninja. But you cannot touch her, foolish mortal man! For Ishraq is also well-versed in hand-to-hand combat and apparently Greco-Roman wrestling. (I find it particularly troublesome that the ONLY dark-skinned person is also the only character to have the insinuation of “magic dark person” follow them around.)

Frieze, Luca's companion, is the unfortunately-named Comic Relief. (I like to think his middle and last names are Bas Relief.) He's also freakishly good with animals. ALL animals. Even, ahem, werewolves.

Peter is the stodgy old guy. The Wet Blanket. The Mysterious Guide who never guides them anywhere but whose job it is to hold pre-written, "open at this date" missives for Luca and Company. (Yes, the Church knows ahead of time where heresies are going to spring up and when. So they'll send a seventeen year-old kid out with his doofus friend and Signore Crankypants to deal with them.)

Okay. So the characters are...not so good.

How about the plot?
This book (my HC edition) is about 260 pages long. You would think that, in a book that length, in which nuns are having stigmata-inducing visions, people are about to be burned at the stake, werewolves allegedly exist, and there is a massive secret society dedicated to finding real heresies and terrors, that this would be a bullet-fast book.
You would be wrong.
The book feels written to be internally episodic, meaning that each piece of the narrative and each crucial plot turn is an end of itself. There is a primacy of “setting + plot” over “character + motivation.” So we have the “Damsel in distress loses her father, her future, and her inheritance and almost gets raped” in one episode. “Hero gets taken from prison and inducted into Super Secret Society” in another. “Mystery at the Abbey” is one particularly long episode. Then there is “Hijinks on the Road,” the glue that brides the “Abbey” episode to “Is this a werewolf? I’m not telling!!” episode. Honestly, each plot segment got sillier than the previous one. The werewolf one was really the crème of the crap. (No, that’s not a typo.)
Each episode is engaging enough of itself that you want to know how it ends, but the resolutions are almost uniformly a let-down.

Details and Setting:
Once you start to look closer, you’ll start to be bothered by other things. Individual details start to nag and irritate, especially if you have the slightest grasp of medieval history.
"I'm not misogynistic, honest!"
Isolde’s abbey is a monastery-plus-nunnery. The men around act like it’s a scandal for a WOMAN to run such an institution. While women certainly weren’t the ruling class of the time, and women leaders were the exception and not the rule, abbeys such as these were USUALLY run by a woman, and the Abbesses of these institutions were usually high-born (or long-serving) women that were well-respected in their communities (in which they mingled and acted as a kind of local leader/figurehead). After all, high-born women were often trained from childhood to manage estates, like Isolde allegedly was. However, she shows no understanding of how to lead people. She complains that her birthright was taken from her, and that she knows how to take care of people, but she shows no ability to manage anyone. There is a rampant amount of misogyny throughout, spoken by many male characters but NOTHING the *white* protagonist does refutes anything they say. She cannot lead people. She has no grasp of the finances or state of the abbey. She cannot control or govern people, not even nuns who have taken a vow of obedience. She cannot take care of herself or do anything without the conveniently-close and helpful Luca and Company. Bah.

Heresy in a Foreigner: Several times Ishraq does something that makes all those around her suspicious or afraid. One major event is consider completely evil, and is first attributed to the ever-so-pretty-and-useless Isolde, for which she [Isolde] should die a heretic’s death. Once it’s discovered that Plot Device did it, though, Luca actually says “She’s not a Christian, so she’s not under the church’s jurisdiction.” I’m sorry? Did I read that right? I’m fairly certain that if you committed a crime of that magnitude, your religion wouldn’t matter. It would be like saying today “You want to sell children as slaves? That’s SO not okay – oh, it’s part of your religion? Nevermind then. We have no jurisdiction here.” It almost made my brain break.


Superstition and Werewolves:
There is a whole theme about superstition and how it's Bad because the Fear of Superstition prevents you from seeing the Fact-based Truth. This is why nobody thought to question anyone in the nunnery about the stigmata and the hallucination-like visions. This is ALSO why, when a "werewolf" is spotted in a village, the villagers can't identify a beast that has a "mane" and walks "sometimes on two legs, sometimes on four." Okay. I didn't have a frickin' clue what was going on in this episode. I should have realized that, in a world where a Moorish girl, raised by Christians since age seven, can keep her cultural identity and study all the Moorish (read: heretical) studies IN SPANISH UNIVERSITIES (brain...shattering...) without anyone thinking a thing of it, then a four year-old boy could wander off into the woods and be raised by wolves, forget how to WALK UPRIGHT, become so filthy he was unrecognizable as human, but could remember how to talk. You know why no one could tell he was a dirty eleven year-old? Superstition.
FYI - that sound you hear is your own brain overheating. I would put some ice on that if I were you.


Honestly, I didn’t really realize the amount of Fail in this book until I started writing this review. Holy cow.

I blazed through it in a few hours, I liked it.
I wrote this review; I like it at lot less now.

I’m donating my copy to the local library so it can misinform the next generation about life in the middle ages.
Profile Image for Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids.
1,952 reviews204 followers
May 17, 2012
4.5 stars

Changeling is a must read for YA fans who love a well crafted historical read, with a rich setting, in-depth characters, and a romance that leaves you wanting more. Philippa's YA debut is fabulous! She not only brought her 1400's Italian setting to life within the pages of her book, but she creates the perfect character chemistry, adds in the perfect amount of mystery and betrayal as well as creates a surprising paranormal twist that was worked in to the story perfectly, and fit in well during this time period. I finally understand all the buzz that surrounds her adult books. Philippa is a master story teller and being the historical fan I am, I want to go pick up more of her books!

Told from alternating points of views, readers get to meet characters Luca Vero and Isolde. I liked the way in which they're both drawn together in this story. Luca is the irresistible, intelligent, charming, good lucking character who against his will is thrown into a secret order, called The Order of the Dragon. His mission to go out and not only investigate, but also document the dangers and evils happening around his country and Europe. This leads him to the nunnery that Isolde has been forced into by her brother after her father, Lord Lucretili died. Unlike Luce, it took me awhile to warm up to Isolde. I liked being able to get to know her as the story went on. There's a reason why she herself is shrouded in mystery for the first part of the book. She is a character who stands up for what she believes in. She's intelligent, beautiful, grounded and will do whatever it takes to gain back the inheritance she rightful has claim to.

It's during Luca's interrogation of the nuns at the nunnery that the story's mystery starts to unravel. There's murder, betrayal, secrets and a surprising twist in this story that made it hard to put it down. The twists that are loaded in this book are unpredictable and make for an exciting story line. I loved how authentic this story felt. From the mannerism of the characters, to the way they talked, dressed, the roles men and women had during this time period and the social statuses of men, women, those of the church, slaves and so forth. The theme of God and the religious elements stayed true to this time period and didn't weigh the story down. I thought Philippa did a suberb job with how she intertwined everything together to create a story that felt like it leaped out of the history books.

This story also has some great supporting characters who play significant roles in the lives of both Isolde and Luca. The romance/character chemistry is so well drawn out. I loved it! There's this undeniable draw between the Luca and Isolde, but being forced into making vows to the church forbids them for having a relationship. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what happens between these two as the series continues. Being that this book is the first in the series, I felt Changeling does a great job at setting up what's to come with the rest of the series. There were times I felt a little confused with the beginning of the book about what was happening, but I quickly caught on and couldn't put this book down. I think both YA fans and fans of Philippa are going to enjoy this book. It's a book I highly recommend picking up on May 29th!
Profile Image for Rachel.
175 reviews45 followers
July 26, 2015
I bought this book on ebook when it was released in 2012, and I had very high hopes for it. I had heard good things about Philippa Gregory's adult historical fiction novels, and I hoped she would transition to Young Adult smoothly. Unfortunately she seems to have dramatically reduced the level of her writing, to fit what she thinks is the YA level. This whole novel is written extremely simply, like she thinks we readers wouldn't be able to understand anything too complex, which is very disappointing. YA isn't a dumbed down version of adult books, and should never be treated as such.
This really got my reading off to a bad start, but it all went downhill from the very first line, which is utterly appalling. "The hammering on the door shot him into wakefulness like a hand-gun going off in his face." WTF, it reads like something a student might write when trying to make their story read better, and to give it a punchy beginning, but instead ends up being clunky and cringeworthy! I actually read that line two or three times just to make sure I had read it correctly!!
The characters are not amazing in this novel either, they are disappointingly one dimensional and difficult to care for. Luca the main character I found difficult to get to grips with. I flipped very quickly from hating him and the things he said and did, to actually almost liking him, then flipping back again. Also the whole changeling thing makes no sense, it's mentioned like its true, then the next scene it's denied, so I had no idea what was going on at all!
The other male main character is Frieze, who is Luca's servant, who has slightly more personality than Luca, he can be sarcastic and snarky, but he still wasn't particularly likeable, he could actually be quite rude too, and I struggled to like him!
The two girls were very non-descript too, Isolde is so bland, I'm actually struggling to think of anything to write about her, or her personality. I really wanted to love her, it started out ok, when she defended herself against the advances of her brother's friend by knocking him out, and standing up to her brother, but she was soon turned into a weak girl who fluttered her eyelids at Luca.
The only character I could feel myself warming to was Ishraq, who is Isolde's servant and companion, she is very intelligent and brave, but again I just struggled to feel invested in her and her welfare, I just didn't care about her, or any of the characters to be honest!!
The tempo of the plot was quite odd. The characters spent a lot of time at the Abbey in the beginning of the novel, even though the blurb talks about them all travelling together. It took about 70% of the novel to actually reach the travelling together part, it seemed to drag on for quite a while!
The whole book also seemed to have a lot of dialogue, and not a lot of action, meaning it dragged on even more, as very little actually happened but lots of talking.
Overall I was quite disappointed with this novel, I had hoped for a lot better from Gregory and she failed to deliver. I don't think I will bother to read any more of this series, as I don't really care much for the characters or for what happens to them next.
Profile Image for Felicity Terry.
1,108 reviews19 followers
June 27, 2012
I know, I know, I promised myself that I wouldn't begin any books that formed a series BUT this is Philippa Gregory.

Different from most of her novels, for one thing Changeling, the first in the Order Of Darkness series, is aimed at the Young Adult (YA) market, a first for Gregory, and for another it isn't based on any individual(s). And therein may lie the problem as it seems to me this is one author who is at her very best when writing about well-known historical characters.

Hardly off to a good start, the very mention of a handgun in the first sentence kid of made me query the historical accuracy.

Combining the historical and the mysterious with a hint towards the supernatural and reading more like two short stories with the same main characters and a connecting theme as opposed to a novel Changeling just didn't flow for me and, though it pains me to say it, felt quite inferior to Gregory's past endeavours.

As for the characters. Well, lets just leave it that whilst there is potential there is a great deal of room for improvement.

Perhaps a novel I might have been more impressed with if it had been written by another author, its just that this isn't what I've come to expect from this much acclaimed writer who, as most of you know, is one of my all time favourites.

...... Then again, it could just be that I'm not exactly of the age to which the book is aimed.
Profile Image for Tracey.
2,033 reviews60 followers
October 3, 2019
This started out as a good read but about midway through it kind of lost its sense of direction. The story got a bit dull to be honest.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
August 14, 2016
The story starts out with Luca accused of heresy, which is a serious crime as this is Italy in the 1400s. Luca has his whole life ahead of him. He's seventeen years old, good looking and extremely bright. All is not lost for Luca though, since the Pope has recruited him to be a part of The Order of the Dragon. This secret group goes on missions throughout the land investigating suspicious occurrences that could be the work of Satan. On his first assignment, he goes to a nunnery in order to figure out what is plaguing the nuns. Many of them have visions and walk in their sleep ever since Isolde came. Isolde was sent to this nunnery by her brother who says her father's dying wish was to send her there, even though he never mentioned it before. Whether it's suspicious or not, she is casted away to this nunnery and denied her inheritance. Now Isolde has run into even more trouble since she and her best friend, Ishraq, are accused of witchcraft. As Luca investigates the situation at the nunnery, he comes to realize that perhaps Isolde isn't to blame after all. He realizes there is more to the situation at hand. Philippa Gregory's Changeling, the first book in the Order of Darkness series, is a fascinating look into 15th Century Italy. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy Luca and Isolde's adventure.

Isolde is a character that I liked right away. Readers will immediately know that she is being duped by her greedy brother; how could you not root for her? Her relationship with her best friend/companion, Ishraq, is also pretty interesting. Ishraq, although many think she is Isolde's slave, isn't; in fact, she is free to go at any point, but stays with Isolde as they have been close since childhood. Luca, on the other hand, wasn't immediately one of my favorite characters, but as the story progressed, I enjoyed him more and more. His servant, Freize, is absolutely one of my favorite characters in Changeling. His witty one-liners and hilarious comments really kept me amused throughout the story. There's no doubt that Gregory did a superb job developing these secondary characters as they don't simply fall to the wayside.

Changeling just scratches the surface of a possible love connection between Isolde and Luca, even though they both took vows and are bound to the church. I'm sure this aspect of the story will be explored even further in book two, Stormbringers, which comes out this June.

At first I thought Changeling was going to have more fantasy elements in it, but I realized that this book is strictly a historical read. I know many fantasy lovers were disappointed by this. So be forewarned, Changeling may include "werewolves" and "witches," but so far in the series, this has all been explained scientifically.

Changeling is Gregory's young adult debut and although it lacks her signature sparkle that can be found in many of her adult novels, I still found Changeling to be entertaining glimpse into a medieval world.
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