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

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars, Genre: Fantasy/ Young Adult, Pages: 272, Level: Easy

Book Description from Barnes & Noble:

Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of this first in a four-book teen series from the #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.

The year is 1453 and all signs point to it being the end of the world. Accused of heresy and expelled from his monastery, handsome seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is recruited by a mysterious stranger to record the end of times across Europe. Commanded by sealed orders, Luca is sent to map the fears of Christendom and travel to the very frontier of good and evil.

Seventeen-year-old Isolde, a Lady Abbess, is trapped in a nunnery to prevent her from claiming her rich inheritance. As the nuns in her care are driven mad by strange visions, walking in their sleep, and showing bleeding wounds, Luca is sent to investigate and driven to accuse her.

Forced to face the greatest fears of the dark ages- witchcraft, werewolves, madness- Luca and Isolde embark on a search for truth, their own destinies, and even love as they take the unknown ways to the real historical figure who defends the boundaries of Christendom and holds the secrets of the Order of Darkness.

Note: I did not finish this book.

Luca was to be a priest. Then he was suspected of something or other and sent to an inquisitor for questioning. To Luca’s surprise, he was to become a member of a secret order that investigates reports of ‘dark’ occurrences. His first task is to look into an abbey and the abbess, Isolde.

Isolde is the daughter of a rich and well respected Lord. The Lord planned to split his properties and monies between Isolde and her older brother. According to her brother who forbid Isolde to be present at her father’s deathbed, the Lord changed his mind and ordered Isolde to marry or become the abess. Isolde chose the latter, where she would come face to face with the young new inquisitor, Luca.

It is rare that I dislike a book so much I do not even finish it. Unfortunately, after 93 pages, I did not have the will to go on. I have a policy that I read 100 pages before passing this kind of judgment, but I just could not do it. Changeling was that bad. I think Philippa Gregory should fire her copy editor; he is obviously lazy. Gregory’s copy editor must have assumed that since Gregory’s previous books were so successful, this one would be no different. He was sadly mistaken.

The writing is atrocious; it is boring, repetitive and sometimes just plain dumb:

“Course I do! Course you are! Course you will!”

Really? Gregory was incapable of anything better than that, possibly, “Course I do! You are and you will.” Gregory’s version sounds and looks like a presidential campaign slogan.

And then the dumb just continues:

He found he was smiling at her, though he could not see if she was smiling back. “Lady Abbess, you are not an easy woman to interrogate”

“Brother Luca, you are not an easy man to refuse,” she replied, and she rose from the table without permission and left the room.

This was after the Lady Abbess had refused to pull back her hood, told him if he ordered her to get rid of her companion she would disobey his orders and refused to immediately send another nun for questioning. In any other book I would say she was mocking Luca, but it actually sounds like Gregory is setting the scene for a love story and this is actually flirting! The horror!

I could over look these portions if they were not representative of the writing as a whole, but depressingly, they are. I do not know what happened here, but Changeling, through page 93 at least, was just awful and I wish I had the time back.

Reviewed by Christina

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