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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Review: Changeling (Order of Darkness #1) by Philippa Gregory

This is my first Philippa Gregory book and I have to say, I am not disappointed.

Title: Changeling (The Order of Darkness #1) by Philippa Gregory
Pages: 266
Release Date: May 24th 2012
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Source: Publisher
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository


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.

I have never read of any of Philippa Gregory's books, but it's clear she knows her craft really well as evident in her writing, complete with maps and illustrations! Her foray into the Young Adult scene is a good one, and Changeling is a start of a new and refreshing series. There are very few YA historical fiction books that I like, and Changeling is one of them.

Journey through Italy in the olden days through Luca and Isolde's story. One is an orphan, called a Changeling for his beauty, a novice priest kicked out of his religious order for being too inquisitive, challenging beliefs and practices with his brilliant observations. Smart and terribly handsome, he was recruited to explore the fears of Christendom by a mysterious order that saved his life. The other is a Lady, raised in a life of privilege. The daughter of a much lauded noble, raised to believe she can be more than just a woman, a leader. The death of her father and the greed of her brother for money and power trapped her into a nunnery as Lady Abbess, caged within a place filled with secrets and mysteries. Luca and Isolde's paths crossed as Luca begins his journey as an inquisitor, and he was tasked to find out if Isolde is responsible for the sisters who are driven mad by witchcraft. Neither of them knew it was a start of an adventure that will take them to the very fronts of Christendom.

Philippa Gregory's rich detail of the life and the setting breathed life to Changeling. The pace was slow at first but I found myself enjoying Luca's adventures. He has such a daunting task and despite being so young, he was level headed, and his curiosity and thirst for knowledge has led him to a great adventure. By all means, Luca wasn't perfect, and those moments where he faltered and blundered gave him that flawed and real impression. Isolde, on the other hand, is a headstrong girl. It felt like she was a girl ahead of her time, when men are considered superior and above everything else. Isolde strives for equality, to be more than just a Lady. I find her relationship with Ishraq puzzling and intriguing at the same time, but it's a quality of hers that I like: color and race do not matter to her. Together with Brother Peter and Freize, they have such great dynamics it was such a joy to read of them especially when they fight and exchange banter with each other.

Medieval times has not been this interesting until Changeling. Philippa Gregory was able to write a believable novel filled with tales of the olden times. Filled with charming leads and entertaining supporting characters, this book is a delightful peak on the year that was 1450 with a twist. There are Kings, Orders, castles, Knights, with magic woven into the story. I would have loved it better if the author shed some light to Luca's real identity, the Order of Darkness itself, and had some closure to Isolde's story before shifting to a related, but different adventure. It would have also been better if Luca and Isolde had established more of the romance, more fleeting moments between them, something more than just exchanging looks and thinking of each other.  This series still has so much potential and I hope to see more of it in the next book!

A quick, light, enjoyable read! Be swept in the mystery and intrigue as Luca investigates and go on a mission. Be an inquisitor, look for clues, solve a mystery and be your own detective! If you are curious to know what it's like to have Philippa Gregory write a Young Adult book reminiscent of her title as the Queen of historical romances, pick up Changeling!

My rating

Content (plot, story flow, character):
More. I just want more of it. Up the ante a bit and this will be more enjoyable!

Okay: Liked, but The Goddess demands more!

Book Cover:


  1. I've read some of Philippa's adult books, so i'm curious to see if her writing style is the same in this YA novel. Thanks for the review! :)


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