Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Genre: YA paranormal fiction
Publisher: Razor Bill
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher
First line: I don’t remember any of the true, important parts, but there’s this dream I have.
Mackie lives in the small town of Gentry, a town that hides its secrets under a cloak of complete denial. And it’s not only the town that has secrets – Mackie has a pretty big one of his own: he’s not quite human. His parent’s true son was taken from his crib as a baby and Mackie was left in his place – a changeling. The fate of babies taken from their cribs in Gentry is one of the town’s most horrifying secrets, and the beings left in their place have very little chance of thriving in the world of humans.
Somehow, Mackie has survived. Now in high school, he’s sick and getting sicker. A young girl (or was she?) dies, the town is in danger of drowning under the constant rain, his allergies to blood and metal are worsening, and he’s approached by half-dead creatures who lead him to a tattooed young princess who says she can make him better – for a price. Is it a price Mackie is willing to pay? And what about Tate, the girl at school who is determined to drag the truth into the light of day, no matter what the town does?
First of all, isn’t that the most amazing cover? When I found The Replacement waiting for me in the mail, I was thrilled, simply because the cover art is so deliciously creepy. This is a perfect fall read: teenage angst-filled fantasy with a tinge of horror. Yovanoff has taken the feeling of not belonging that most teens feel to its ultimate extreme. Mackie doesn’t quite belong in the human world; he also doesn’t quite belong in the underground world of supernatural creatures who control the fate of the town. He has to decide for himself who he wants to be – and so this also qualifies as a coming-of-age story.
Yovanoff does a wonderful job of world-building: the town of Gentry is a place of just-below-the-surface evil, and the description of the world under the slag heap is perfectly creepy, peopled with beings that would be truly terrifying to encounter in the light of day, let alone in the gloomy dampness of Gentry. And while there is obviously room to make this the first in a series of books about the town, it also works as a stand-alone novel. It was very refreshing to read a work of YA fantasy that didn’t end on a complete cliff-hanger and leave me waiting months and months for the sequel.