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The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Review by Sherin Nicole
Razorbill Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781595143372
Date: 21 September 2010 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: See Mel Jacob's Review / Show Official Info /

Mackie Doyle has always avoided the creatures of the night. They are the dark beings of legend who steal children and replace them with sickly doppelgangers. He’d have an easier time hiding if he wasn’t one of them.

There is a something amiss beneath the town of Gentry. Under the rusting train tracks, closed factories, and gloomy weather a bloody secret festers.

Mackie couldn’t care less.

He’s got his own secret to guard. When your eyes are black and you’re allergic to metal it’s difficult to pass yourself off as average. Everyone knows Mackie is far from normal yet he has a small group of friends who admire him for it. The best of these is Roswell, who not only accepts Mackie without question, but also helps him hide his peculiarities.

Mackie would like to believe everything is fine. Oh, he knows about the babies who go missing from their cribs, and the not-quite-right Replacements that die in their places. He knows and ignores the truth because he is one of the few Replacements who survived to grow up.

Soon the town gathers to bury little Natalie Stewart. Her elder sister, Tate, refuses to acknowledge the creature in the box is family. Tate is determined to be heard so goes to the only person she knows will believe her. Mackie Doyle. He resists but eventually she forces him to take action and discover the truth of his heritage.

The journey leads him to a magical rock band, the promise of a potion to ease the effects of the metals that are killing him, and finally to a slagheap that is actually a fairy mound. There Mackie meets a strange incarnation of the Morrigan, the goddess or war, and her odd collection of dead girls who celebrate life. They reveal the replaced children are part of a dark tradition, supposedly in service of the town.

Mackie doesn’t like it but doesn’t think he has a choice. It’s not until his affection for Tate grows and the guilt becomes unbearable that he decides something must be done. The town must change even if he has to spill his own blood to make it happen.

I enjoyed reading The Replacement. It goes in unexpected directions and is a nice departure from the current trend in YA novels about the Fae. It’s not an adventure but concentrates on the development of Mackie’s character. There’s no difficult upbringing or contentious family life as backstory. Mackie’s family loves him and they do what they must to protect him from magical dangers and human prejudices alike. Most touching is his relationship with his sister, Emma, and the support he receives from his best friend, Roswell.

I’m not sure about the romance Mackie develops with Tate. She’s meant to be spunky and courageous but I found her abrasive and pushy. Then again, the landscape of flat YA leading ladies could use a little shaking up and Tate is a full bodied character—like her or no.

Most of all, The Replacement is creepy in a lovely goose-bump-tingly way. Brenna Yovanoff has created a compelling character study dressed-up as a ghost story—perfect for Halloween or late nights beneath the covers.

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