TITLE: Changeling (The Oddmire, #1)
AUTHOR: William Ritter
AGE RANGE: MG
Magic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the fateful night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong. After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted from his task. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart. Not knowing which to bring back, he leaves both babies behind.
Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. Then when they are twelve years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic. The boys must leave behind their sleepy town of Endsborough and risk their lives in the Wild Wood, crossing the perilous Oddmire swamp and journeying through the Deep Dark to reach the goblin horde and discover who they truly are.
“Once upon a time, there was a child whom the goblins came to steal, and once upon a time, there was a child whom the goblins left behind…”
I don’t reach for middle grade fantasy terribly often because I tend to be picky, but when I do, I’m looking for specific things: a whimsical world I can escape in, a sense of humor that can make me smile (or better yet, laugh out loud), and characters I can genuinely love and care for. I cannot even begin to tell you how flawlessly William Ritter’s Changeling checks every last one of those boxes for me!
“We’re in the Wild Wood,” he whispered. “Uncharted territory.”
“It’s not uncharted. We’re twenty feet from where we hang out every day, and I am literally holding a chart.”
“Don’t ruin this.”
These characters are so precious and laugh-out-loud funny, but their quest is one wrought with endless suspense because you can’t help but love them and want them to succeed. It’s such a fascinating and pulling story from its barest bones, anyways, because from the very start, you know you’re rooting for them despite the fact that their intended quest doesn’t seem like it could possibly end in anything short of tears.
He could have been made of fire and she would not have let him go.
After all, this journey isn’t just about changelings and goblin-folk and magic; more than anything, Changeling is about family — blood-bound, or not — and the lengths we will go to when we want to keep our loved ones safe. The bond between Cole and Tinn is just as strong and sweet as any bond between human, blood-linked siblings, and even more so, Annie Burton’s motherly love for them both and the way she refuses to choose one over the other — it’s downright precious. Talk about the unsung hero of a story.
“Stories are important. They are born, they die, they’re born again.”
While the characters were my favorite part of the story, Changeling has more going for it than that: the writing is spare and lovely, crafting a three-dimensional, beautifully fleshed-out world — full of whimsical characters and creatures, good and bad! — in a very short span of time. This is undoubtedly going to be a hit with bookworms and reluctant readers alike, and I, for one, can’t wait to recommend it (and to eagerly pick up the second book when it releases!).
All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Algonquin Young Readers for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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