Changeling by Molly Harper
Wealthy 14 year old Cassandra Reed has a secret. That’s not her real name. And she’s not actually a member of the noble magical class that now rules the world. But as one of the non-magical Snipes who possesses magic, her secret must be kept so that she—and her family—can survive. So she has to blend in with the magical class. And attend school for wealthy magical ladies. She just can’t slip up…
Ever read one of those books where you are just certain that you’ve read it before, but you clearly haven’t?
This was that book.
It’s been over six weeks since I read this, and I have been dreading writing this review for so long that I now have a huge stack of other reviews to write because I was procrastinating on this one. The details are hazy, but my dislike for this book is not.
I’ve had it on my TBR for quite some time due to its high ratings and the rave reviews, and I wish now that I had removed it instead of going in and purchasing it with an Audible credit when I realized that that was the only way I’d actually read the book.
The audiobook is horrible, but I don’t think that it really detracted much from the story itself.
Think gender-bent Harry Potter meets Red Queen slapped into a dystopian world that never went past the Victorian era (there were some kinda Edwardian like things, but not enough).
Yes. One of those books.
I’m not a huge fan of Victorian fiction to begin with, and it really irks me when writers do this with their alternate-history worlds, because societies and cultures do change. They do go forwards and backwards, but the thing is that the only constant is change. Having a culture stuck in lock-step Victorian sentimentalities for a hundred years just doesn’t make sense.
I didn’t like this book for other reasons.
It felt uninspired—like I had read it before—following similar tropes. Previously non-magical girl of the underclass discovers her magical abilities and is adopted hush-hushly into the ruling magical class to protect the status quo. Then non-magical girl goes to school (because, duh), and discovers that she is truly ~gifted~ for ~reasons~ and makes enemies of the popular girls, friends with the non-popular girls, and despite her obvious superior gifted talents still struggles with school and her magic for no other reason than to gain sympathy and add pages to the story. Then of course there’s the Big Baddy at the school who is out to Ruin Things For Everyone and Change Society By Not Actually Changing It At All. The plot is ruined and things go back to normal. All talk of the girl actually fixing things in society to make it better are gone as she acclimates to her new life on top.
It felt like the the book didn’t know its audience, and that was incredibly frustrating as well. Was it trying to be an adultish alternate history fantasy, commenting on social inequities and the hierarchal structure of power? Was it trying to be a fantasy of manners, like the cover (and series title) depicted? Was it a young adult coming of age novel and fighting against a system of oppression? What it a middle grade school novel á la Harry Potter or Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? At various parts of the book it felt like it was trying to be each of these things…and in trying to do all the things it did none of the things and therefore annoyed the everloving fuck out of me.
Plus again, the audiobook narrator was horrible. Cassandra’s accent changed all over the place. It sounded like nails on chalkboard.
Anywho, my opinions are my own. I’m sure that this book will call—and has called—to many others, but it hit every single trope that I abhor and that’s entirely on me.