Monday, May 1, 2017

Book Of Magic: "The Changeover" by Margaret Mahy

"A gorgeous, strange, unforgettable story...I more than loved it." ~ LAINI TAYLOR

First published in 1984, Margaret Mahy's The Changeover won the Carnegie Medal (for Children's and YA fiction) in the same year. It is now regarded as a classic of supernatural Kids/YA fantasy and is currently being made into a film, with the great (UK actor) Timothy Spall as the bad guy--or bad demon, as is in fact the case.

33 years after first publication, The Changeover is still very much in circulation but has also been re-released by Hachette ahead of the film coming out.

So, of course, having somehow mysteriously missed reading this book when it first came out, or subsequently (despite hearing so many good things!), I was determined to read the re-release -- and I am telling you about it right now, dear Supernatural Undergrounders, because I loved it!

Probably the most important aspect of the book is that it stands the test of time. The author has focused on universal themes of family, friendship, and "the ties that bind", which are all as vital and important now as they were 33 years ago. So there is little to date the story in that sense.

In addition, the main character, Laura, has a wonderful "voice", but is supported by an equally engaging cast of surrounding characters: her mother, Kate, and baby brother, Jacko; her fellow High School student and probable "witch", silver-eyed Sorenson; and Sorenson's mother and grandmother (definitely witches.) I love the way Laura and Sorenson's relationship evolves during the book, managing to achieve romantic tension while still remaining a relationship of equals. Which is important, as it happens...

As for that bad guy, Carmody Braque -- he shifts from creepy, to spooky, to downright evil in a way that makes your skin crawl: guaranteed to creep you out as a reader and I am sure Timothy Spall will achieve just that effect, with spades, in the film.

The Changeover is supernatural urban fantasy from the time before such stories enjoyed their current prominence. I can see its influence on the evolution of the genre and on more recent works such as Neil Gaiman's The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, without it in any way feeling old hat or "read it before, already."

As you can see from the quote I started with, Laini Taylor loved it. So did Justine Larbalestier as discussed here -- and so do I. So there you are, the power of three -- but I know there are many, many more than three The Changeover fans out there. Maybe you're one of us already. :-)

But if not and you're feeling in the mood for a classic YA supernatural read, then I recommend giving The Changeover a try.


Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) was published this year. Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we


Kim Falconer said...

Helen, I am so grateful for this review.

I somehow missed this title as well, and am buying it on the Kindle as we speak.

I'll let you know my thoughts! (Just finished Laini Taylor's Strange the Dreamer.)


Helen Lowe said...

I'll be keen to hear what you think, Kim -- but I'm "pretty sure" you'll enjoy "The Changeover."

I haven't read "Strange the Dreamer" yet, but I loved "Daughter Of Smoke And Bone." :)