Book Review

REVIEW: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Summary from Goodreads:

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 really wanted to love this novel, but sadly didn’t. As a major fan of all things historical fiction, I had very high hopes because Gregory is a bestselling author here in the UK and her books have even been made into TV programmes and films. So, this is actually quite a sad review to write.
Before I get on to the reasons why I didn’t like this book, I need to talk about the positive things. The attention to detail was brilliant and I thought the settings were described well so that it was easy to picture where the book was taking place. It was easy to tell that a lot of research had taken place beforehand.

I liked the characters, but they were really bad at interacting with each other. The dialogue felt forced and I felt like screaming in frustration regularly. Isolde was probably the most understandable character, and there wasn’t a lot of competition.

Both the cover and summary are hugely misleading. Both promise a romantic aspect that sounds amazing but there was no romance in this book at all. For someone like me who lives for these moments in books, it was a major let down.

When you’re reading a book you should be able to feel that what you’re reading is true and you’re witnessing the events but this didn’t happen in Changeling. Everything felt a bit forced and I found a lot of the plot lines very unrealistic.

I didn’t enjoy this book at all and I’m so sad about that fact because I really wanted to like it. I’m going to try and read one of Gregory’s adult novels to see if I like one of them better but I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest in this series.

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  • Reply
    Sarah (TotalTeenFiction)
    3 June, 2013 at 8:51 am

    I’ve been thinking of reading this one because I don’t read a lot of historical and I’ve been wanting to read more. Unrealistic dialogue is one of my main bug bears in books so I think I’d find that frustrating too. And boo at no romance 🙁 sorry you didn’t enjoy this one Lucy. I might seek out some other YA historicals to try!

  • Reply
    Charlotte @ Gypsy Reviews
    3 June, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Aw that sucks 🙁 I’ve heard loads about Philippa Gregory’s books and it’s such a shame this didn’t live up to expectations. Bad dialogue and awkward interactions are always a turn off in a book 🙁

  • Reply
    3 June, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Ah, shame you didn’t enjoy this 🙁 Isn’t it annoying when a book turns out nothing like the synopsis description?

  • Reply
    3 June, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Read this last year, same conclusion: totally sucks when a book doesn’t live up to the hype.

  • Reply
    Rebekah Campbell
    3 June, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Oh no, there’s nothing worse than when the dialogue feels forced and it’s an author who’s normally spot on with her books 🙁

  • Reply
    So Many Books, So Little Time
    4 June, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    I haven’t read any of her adult novels, but with this I felt that Gregory was writing down to a younger audience and that resulted in her missing out the good stuff. I have the sequel to read next and I really hope she’s upped it a lot.

  • Reply
    6 June, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Like you a am a fan of historical fiction, but I was let down by this book for pretty much the same reasons you mentioned. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting it to be. A shame really. Thanks for the honest review!

  • Reply
    8 June, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    I won this a couple of years ago but haven’t got round to reading it even though YOU KNOW how much I like historical fiction! It’s annoying that it’s not as great as she is known for or as you expected, I’ve heard her books are supposed to be really good and accurate…

  • Reply
    Steve Callaghan
    25 December, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Excellent review. One of Gregory’s best & truly romantic adult novels I can definitely recommend is The Lady of the Rivers; a beautiful historical love story. 🙂

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