Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
In college I devoured Philippa Gregory’s shocking Wideacre trilogy (I totally don’t recommend that series…just trust me) and The Other Boleyn Girl pretty quickly. I love historical fiction, especially when it involves some romance thrown in there for good measure. So, when I heard Gregory had written a Young Adult novel, I was intrigued. Well, this YA novel, Changeling, was at my Fall Book Fair so I knew I had to buy myself a copy…to help the kids of course!
Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.
Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.
Philippa Gregory’s books, simply put, are fun travels through time, nothing more and I’m pretty sure I read Changeling in a manner of days. I was hooked from the beginning when you meet Luca in his medieval prison cell. We quickly learn of The Order of the Dragon, a real religious order specially selected and tasked with defending Christianity from it’s enemies, which of course was a big deal in medieval Europe. Luca is so ready to be rid of his charge of heresy that he accepts the “call” to this order without really knowing anything about it. So, he is sent off to travel Europe to learn about the things Christians fear.
Enter Isolde, her mysterious ladies’ maid and the nunnery she is forced into. Enter romance (wink wink)! Also, enter the mystery. The nuns are having strange visions, there is talk of werewolves, witches and other heretical occurrences. What the reader gets is a historcial mystery that is so engrossing you really can’t stop turning the pages! I had to know what was really going on in this nunnery!
The burgeoning romance between Isolde and Luca is interesting because it’s forbidden. Both have committed to the monastic life, although each was forced into it in different ways. Romantic love is not a possibility for them, even though it’s staring them in the face. Gah! The tension and frustration was fun, but also incredibly predictable. There is another romance brewing however, that is a little more interesting and less predictable.
Okay, so Changeling wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it was entertaining and intriguing. It’s kind of like a YA Davinci Code, a page turner you can’t help but enjoy and I’m definitely down for continuing the series.
Author: Philippa Gregory
Publisher: Simon Pulse (May 24, 2012)
Length: 256 pages
Series: First book in The Order of Darkness series