By Philippa Gregory
Read by: Charlie Cox
6 hours 45 minutes
May 29, 2012
Simon & Shuster (Simon Audio)
Reviewed: Audiobook from publisher
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.
About the audiobook: Can I just start this review by saying that Charlie Cox is my new audiobook crush? If I could have him read all of my books, that would be a-ok with me. His English/European accent is so charming and alluring that, even if a book were to take place in the Bronx, I wouldn’t care. I’d still ask him to read it to me. With that said, on with the review. *Eh-em*…
It goes without saying that I enjoyed Charlie Cox as the reader (you might know him from the feature film, Stardust – see photo to the right). His accent allows the reader to instantly recognize the location and the possible time period of the story. Not only that, but he speaks with articulations and inflections that differentiate the various characters he is portraying within the story. Dare I say that Changeling may very well be one of the most vocally appealing readings I have had the honor to listen to? Yes, I think I dare.
At only 6 hours, 45 minutes, Changeling is an audiobook that can easily be completed in the span of a single work day. That’s how I enjoyed it.
As for the story: Philippa Gregory slips slightly out of her comfort zone with Changeling. I applaud her for it. I was a bit surprised by the short length of this book. Changeling feels like it is the first part of a series that could potentially go on for countless installments. In the end I couldn’t help but think that a longer manuscript was written, only to be sliced in half (or perhaps into even smaller pieces) and released as “book one”. I am still unsure what the “grand scheme” or main storyline will end up being, but in the meantime I will simply enjoy the “monster of the day” plot line. I encourage all other readers to keep this in mind, as well.
While overflowing with fantastical elements and extreme danger, Changeling is a surprisingly realistic historical in which the main character, Luca, and co. must solve multiple mysteries during their travels (think an old fashioned European Mystery Inc. minus the doberman). I was enthralled with how Philippa wove her story arcs around various superstitions that have plagued humanity throughout the ages. While it is certainly a fantasy novel, each mystery is ultimately grounded in reality. I was frightened and enthralled by the witchcraft and werewolf elements, and then I was like, “Woah. Wait.” with each resolution. While I think that some may be disappointed by the resolutions as well as the lack of an overall major story arc, I was personally quite pleased with this unique and highly “realistic” fantasy. Contradictory? Perhaps. But once you read Changeling for yourself you will know what I mean.
I encourage any fan of Philippa’s work (or historical fiction in general) to pick this one up. If you get the opportunity, opt for the audiobook. Charlie Cox will not disappoint.
Audiobook: 5 stars
Story Grade: 4.5 stars