The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

The Replacement (2010) ★ ★ ★
Brenna Yovanoff
Razorbill/Penguin Group

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

replacementA good friend recommended this book to me a while back, not because she had read it, but because the cover caught her eye and she thought it might be something I would enjoy (cause I’m warped in that special way). So first let me just say I really do love this cover. Even though we’re told we never should, sometimes I just can’t stop myself from judging books this way. That antique “English” pram made me think of Rosemary’s Baby. What did I think of the sharp implements dangling like some kind of demented mobile? I wasn’t really sure … but I was very intrigued and couldn’t wait to see what it was all about.

I had so much fun reading this book. It was such a delight on so many levels. This is not a full on horror story, even though there are definitely horrific moments. Really, it’s a story about finding your place in the world even when you believe you don’t fit in anywhere. Mackie Doyle has never truly felt a part of the human world, always on the outside looking in. Nevertheless, he has a devoted circle of family and friends who love him despite what he is. In fact, they don’t see what he is, they only love him for who he is.

The small cast of characters are wonderfully drawn – especially Mackie’s sister Emma and best friend Roswell. Their love and loyalty know no bounds and prove the awesome power of unconditional acceptance. Mackie may feel like a monster, and at times he may even believe that he is, but this is not what the people closest to him see. They see Mackie for who he really is – kind, gentle, brave, funny and smart – and they’ll do anything to keep him safe and be by his side when the chips are down.

I thought The Lady a truly disturbing and vile invention. The climactic confrontation Mackie has with her is nail-biting stuff. I got chills when she explains that it is human fear itself that sustains her and the human belief in her existence that keeps her living: “I am terror. I draw strength from their fears…I eat their devotion and their abasement.” In a very tangible way, this reminded me of Candyman,  who claims: “I am the writing on the wall, the whisper in the classroom! Without these things, I am nothing. So now, I must shed innocent blood”.

If you enjoyed any of the following books, I would highly recommend that you pick up The Replacement. Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and The Graveyard Book. Also John Connelly’s Book of Lost Things. Joseph Delaney’s Last Apprentice series

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