The Replacement, by Brenna Yovanoff

The ReplacementMackie is a changeling, a fairy child left as a replacement for a human one. Instead of dying as such a child is expected to do, he survived by making himself invisible and avoiding contact with iron that infuses just about everything, from steel to human blood. All he wants is to be human, to fit in with the people of Gentry, but when a little girl goes missing, he finds himself journeying into the town’s underworld to meet the creatures that once abandoned him.

I fell for this book as soon as I saw it’s uber-creepy book cover, featuring a litany of knifes, scissors, and horseshoes dangling precariously over a child’s carriage.

I loved it even more when I found out the purpose of those dangerous objects is to protect rather than harm, each of them made with iron to save the child from being taken — which is a perfect reflection of the world that lies within this books pages. What at first appears ugly and dangerous may turn out to be good and kind. What appears beautiful may be deadly. And I love that reversal of expectations.

I love that Mackie is a member of the family, even though his mom, dad, and sister know he is not the same human boy who was robbed from the crib that night. They know, and yet he is accepted and loved. They do all they can to accommodate his disabilities (removing all the iron they can from the house, building an unconsecrated part of church so he can go to Sunday school) and protect him from the potential malice of the town (which refuses to admit the existence strange creatures, even though deep down they know).

Mackie, for all this love, is lost and lonely. Though he has friends and family who care for him, he casts himself as an outsider, feeling that often come up for adopted children in general. When Tate comes after him for answers, for someone anyone to listen to her about her sister, he tries to avoid her in an effort to protect himself, but finds himself unable to pretend that he doesn’t care.

There is a general creepiness and sense of unease that fits perfectly with the book cover, and the hairs on my arms are standing up right now — partly from the creep factor, partly from delight — even as I think about it. If it’s half as good as this one, then I can’t wait to read another Brenna Yovanoff book.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. You are welcome to comment either here or there.]