The Last Changeling

The Last Changeling

The Last Changeling was written by Chelsea Pitcher and first published in 2014. It is a paranormal romance novel about a faerie princess who is forced to venture in the human world to save her people. The book forms the first part of The Last Changeling series and is followed by The Last Faerie Queen (2015).

Although Elora has grown up in the Dark Court, she longs for its destruction. She can see the strife that it has caused and watched as her mother, the Dark Queen, ruled her subjects by using fear and discord. Desperate to free her people, she approaches the Bright Queen for assistance as she knows that only her power can rival the Dark Queen. The Bright Queen agrees on one condition: Elora must first solve a riddle.

The puzzle leads Elora into the human world in search of a boy who is both the bane of darkness and perfect for light. To pass as a human, she uses a glamour to disguise herself as a recently killed runaway and takes the name Lora. She soon meets Taylor, a teenage boy with a tragic past of his own, and finds a place among his outcast group of friends as she tries to help them get revenge against a ruthless bully.

As her friendship with Taylor grows stronger, Elora finds herself incredibly confused. She has always been taught that humans are monsters but she can see that’s not the case. Yet if she allows herself to become too attached to Taylor, she knows that it will only invite danger. The Dark Court hunts for her and she knows that they would hurt the people she cares about if it would root her out…

Where to begin…

The Last Changeling is the most disappointing novel that I’ve read it a long time. I don’t really like slamming novels in my reviews but I’m really struggling to think of anything positive to say about this one. Even the things that were not too objectionable about it were more average than actually good. I’m really sorry if this treads on anybody’s toes but, remember, this blog is built on my personal feelings. Please don’t consider me an expert – I’m just a girl who reads a lot of books.

For starters, the book doesn’t really bare any resemblance to its blurb. It only really becomes a faerie story over its final few chapters. Prior to this, all mention to the Seelie and Unseelie Courts just comes in the form of exposition. Elora gradually tells Taylor her history in the form of bedtime stories over the course of the novel. The result of this is that we never really feel any connection to Faerie. We never see the war taking place (the cast don’t even travel to Faerie until the 94% mark on the Kindle version) and so we never feel any stake in it. I didn’t really know who any of the characters Elora spoke of were, or what was the real nature of the fae so I certainly didn’t care that bad things were happening to them.

The fantasy elements of the story could have probably been edited out with little trouble. Instead, the book mainly decided to focus on a high school LGBT society (known as the “Merry-Straight Alliance”). If the faerie elements of the story were too wishy-washy, the contemporary elements were just far too heavy handed. The Merry-Straight Alliance only seemed to have about six members but everyone else in the school discriminated against them, including the staff. This could be more an American thing but I never really experienced anything like this when I went to school in England. While there was the odd homophobic bully, a majority of the students were either supportive or indifferent to the LGBT students (and the staff certainly couldn’t enforce homophobic rules).

In The Last Changeling, it’s strongly indicated that Brad the School Bully has such a stranglehold on popularity that he can make everyone be dicks to the Alliance. He gets Taylor thrown off the soccer team for supposedly sexually assaulting the other boys in the changing rooms (though one would think that this would normally get the authorities involved rather than a ban). He drugs and strips Kylie in an attempt to prove a rumour that she’s intersex. He gets his parents to complain to the school board in order to ban all same sexed couples from the prom. How can one seventeen year old bully really wield so much power?

The message of the novel (discrimination is bad / society should stand up to tyrants / the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few) are dictated to the reader with no subtlety. Just compare this novel to excellent LGBT books like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and The Miseducation of Cameron Post (which is still the best novel I’ve ever reviewed. You should read it instead of this). Both of these novels put the reader in the space of a homosexual protagonist. They don’t need to preach at you because you’re in their head, experiencing the way that they’re discriminated against as it happens to them. The cast of The Last Changeling love to monologue. They’re prone to lengthy discourses about how hard done by they are and how everyone should just accept them. While true, it becomes tiresome to read pages of the cast openly expositing this again and again.

Also, and this constitutes a mild SPOILER so you might want to look away now, the fact that the Alliance don’t actually manage to succeed on the strength of their hard work really frustrates me. A lot of the novel is devoted to the core characters planning a rebellion at the prom, a silent protest that shows that more people oppose the ban than support it. Yet the rebellion fails. The Alliance is only allowed access to the prom because Elora uses her magic to influence the Principal. Really, what message are we supposed to gleam from this? At the end of the day, peaceful protesting doesn’t work and dark magic is the only way to achieve equality? I don’t think this is an especially good moral.

Anyway, end of SPOILER, let’s look at the characters.

While the core cast is fairly diverse, including gay and bisexual characters and a wheelchair user, they’re also painfully dull. Beyond the clunky dialogue, there really isn’t a lot to any of them and they’re pretty interchangeable. They also all have horrible home lives. And I mean all of them. I think only Brad seemed to be on good terms with his family. All the rest were either neglected or had been thrown out of home by homophobic parents.

The villains in the story were also lacking in depth. Both Brad and Naeve (the faerie hunting Elora) were characterised purely by the fact that they were power-hungry monsters. While Brad’s crimes are comparatively small, Naeve just exists to torture and kill because he’s jealous of Elora. This plan just makes little sense. It’s indicated that the Dark Queen is depressed just because Elora has gone missing. Does he really think she’ll be pleased to find that he’s murdered her only daughter?

The only characters that are really halfway decent are Elora and Taylor. While I did think that their backstories were a bit over the top (particularly Taylor’s), I did actually rather like the few scenes that they spent together. The gradual build of their relationship was nice, even if I could never quite get over the fact that Taylor had known Elora for all of five minutes before inviting her to live with him. If more time had been spent developing these two, perhaps I would have enjoyed the story a bit more but, unfortunately, this was not to be.

Anyway, rant over. The Last Changeling was certainly not the novel for me. Its message was heavy handed, its characters were forgettable and the faerie plot only really kicked in over the last few chapters. However, at least the characters do eventually reach Faerie and so I’m hoping that the next novel shows a marked improvement.

The Last Changeling can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook on Amazon.co.uk

Advertisements

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Last Faerie Queen | Arkham Reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog Stats

  • 25,570 awesome people have visited this blog

© Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

All novels reviewed on this site are © to their respective authors.

%d bloggers like this: