Changeling by Molly Harper

Posted March 13, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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Changeling

Changeling

by Molly Harper

Series: Sorcery and Society #1
Publisher: Audible Studios on August 22, 2018
Genre: Boarding School, Fantasy, Magic
Target Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: ★★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

If 14-year-old Cassandra Reed makes it through her first day at Miss Castwell’s Institute for the Magical Instruction of Young Ladies without anyone discovering her secret, maybe, just maybe, she’ll let herself believe that she really does belong at Miss Castwell’s.

Except Cassandra Reed’s real name is Sarah Smith and up until now, she lived her whole life in the Warren, serving a magical family, the Winters, as all non-magical “Snipes” are bound by magical Guardian law to do. That is, until one day, Sarah accidentally levitates Mrs. Winter’s favorite vase in the parlor...

But Snipes aren’t supposed to have magical powers…and the existence of a magical Snipe threatens the world order dictated during the Guardians’ Restoration years ago. If she wants to keep her family safe and protect her own skin, Sarah must figure out how to fit into posh Guardian society, master her newfound magical powers and discover the truth about how an ordinary girl can become magical.

 

Changeling checks so many boxes for me.  Sure, there are a lot of tired tropes and predictable things, but the predictable things aren’t bothersome, and the tropes are my favorites.

The world of Changeling is one where there are magical beings the world, and back around the industrial revolution, those magical beings got tired of the non-magical guttersnipes – nicknamed “Snipes” – developing new technology tat may bypass their inherent power.  Our story takes place two hundred years later, and follows Sarah, a Snipe who has magic.  Chaos and coverups ensue.

In the early moments of the story, we already have a romantic interlude, and Sarah starts the story with an internal struggle – in this case, her health.  Molly Harper does a great job of putting a lot of pressure on Sarah all the time.  Whether it’s her own abilities (or lack thereof), a petty minor villain, or a malicious government, the protagonist doesn’t have a moment to rest.  And even though Sarah falls into a “chosen one” trope, she does not have the usual Mary Sue abilities of many chosen ones.  She can’t get by without help from her friends and families.

Changeling takes place mostly at a magical school, and as such, it invites comparisons to Harry Potter.  That disappoints me, because it’s like we can never have magical boarding schools now because they’re all “copying Harry Potter”.  I thought that this book was still creative, and I love boarding school stories.  The world felt different enough from the Potterverse, and I really appreciated Harper’s easy inclusion of the deities of many mythologies (I caught goddesses from Greek, Roman, Norse, and Egyptian mythology), and the artifacts added a fresh twist.  I really like that blades were used in the place of wands.  It’s something I’ve never seen before, but it makes a lot more sense to me.  So, yeah, it’s a magical boarding school, and Sarah has a couple good friends.  It didn’t feel like Harry Potter fan fiction to me.

One regret I have about my experience with Changeling is the fact that I listened to this as an audiobook.  Narrators can make or break a book, and if I didn’t love so many aspects of the story, this narrator would have broken it for me.  Her reading was slow, steady, and comes off as very sarcastic.  I didn’t feel it matched Sarah’s character at all, who is a genuine, timid girl for most of the books.  Sure, Sarah has her occasional snaps and snide remarks, but for the most part she’s sweet and nervous and frustrated and the voice just didn’t fit.  The reading style wasn’t terrible, the accents were fine, but I felt like her delivery was a mismatch for the protagonist.

I really, really enjoyed this book.  Even though the narrator’s pacing was slow, the story’s pacing was quick and kept me interested throughout.  I liked Sarah as a protagonist and the various bad guys and villainous characters were wonderfully done (honestly, I can’t believe Mary!).  The writing style was well-balanced and while there was a little bit of a world building info dump at the very beginning, it settled itself out after that initial introduction.

While Changeling is a little tropey, it has that warm comfortable buzz of old favorites like Harry Potter, Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic series, A Great and Terrible Beauty, and the Vampire Academy series.  I will definitely be adding the next book to my TBR, because I had a delightful time with this one.  I easily recommend it as a quick, easy read.  It’s great for anyone who enjoys magic, boarding schools, rags-to-riches stories, found families, and the like.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★★
Narrator: ★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★★

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What tropes suck you in every time?  Just about every one in this book grabs me, so I was pretty much set up to love it!  What about you?  Which ones get you every time?  Let me know in the comments!

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