By Ekta R. Garg
September 14, 2016
Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars
A girl moves to a new town with her family and thinks any chance of friendships are doomed. Then her little sister goes missing and the girl sets out on a quest to find her, which turns her new town into an adventure. Author Christina Soontornvat gives middle grade readers an enjoyable story in the pleasant book The Changelings.
Izzy Doyle can’t believe her family has moved to Everton. By her estimation, it’s the most boring town on the planet. But her parents wanted to get back to the fresh air and the land. It was hard enough for Izzy to try to make friends in her old hometown. How, she wonders, is she supposed to make friends in a brand new place?
During her first few days, Izzy visits the lone grocery store with her mother and her sister, Hen, and they all hear about the local witch. Suddenly Everton starts to sound more interesting. It becomes even more so when Izzy discovers the witch is her next-door neighbor. She wants nothing more than to go check out this witch, but her mother forbids her to bother the woman.
Not one to let an opportunity for excitement go by, Izzy and Hen decide to visit the witch’s home. They notice several strange things around the house, including tall piles of rocks. Then they hear music, which draws Hen’s attention. Before Izzy knows what’s happening, Hen disappears.
Izzy goes after Hen and plunges into the forest. But she soon discovers these are no ordinary woods. They’re full of magic and creatures she’s never seen before. Suddenly, Izzy realizes she’s stumbled onto something bigger than just moving to Everton.
She meets the most unusual group of people who call themselves the Changelings. They can change from their human forms into animals, which comes in handy considering that the Changelings are being pursued by a group of creatures called the Unglers. The Unglers are headed by a mysterious queen who seems to have a plan.
Izzy and the Changelings don’t know what that plan is, but as they make their way to find Hen it quickly becomes clear that the plan somehow involves the Changelings. Now, not only does Izzy have to save her sister, she has to find a way to help the Changelings…her new friends.
Author Christina Soontornvat gives readers a likeable and believable heroine in Izzy. Readers in the middle grade range will find themselves cheering along with Izzy’s successes in finding Hen and frowning in worry during various plot twists. Her friendships with the Changelings develop naturally, offering both Izzy and readers the valuable lesson that friendships must be earned. Once earned and sealed with trust, however, they can be some of the most precious relationships a young person can form.
Soontornvat drops several clues early on and throughout the book as to why Izzy, of all people, must save the Changelings, and the story does get a little muddy in detailing in some parts. Once in a while the story drifts away from its core plot, and it’s unclear whether Soontornvat built those tangents into the book with intention or to offer readers a pleasant diversion from the action at hand.
On the whole, however, middle grade readers will most certainly enjoy Izzy’s story. I recommend readers Bookmark The Changelings.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)