December 5, 2011

Review: The Replacement, by Brenna Yovanoff

Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Title: The Replacement
ISBN: 9781847388391
Publisher: Simon and Schuster (2011)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie comes from a world of tunnels and black, murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattoed princess. He is a replacement - left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago when it was stolen away by the fey. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world. Mackie would give anything just to be normal, to live quietly amongst humans, practice his bass guitar and spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem, where he must face down the dark creatures and find his rightful place - in our world, or theirs. GoodReads’ blurb

Faerie lore, troubled guys, races against time and mysterious happenings... what’s not to like? Well, I’ve yet to figure it out, but this one didn’t grip me as much as I wanted it to.

The setting and backstory were amazing. Mackie and Tate’s sister, Natalie, aren’t isolated cases, and that was one thing that I took a while to understand and loved the moment I did: Gentry is a huge, big lie where everyone knows that, from time to time, babies will disappear and die, but where no one does a thing to prevent it because the city is prosperous beyond measure.

Mackie tried to live this lie as well, as best as he could, and he managed fairly well taking into account that his kind – for yes, he’s a fae (or fey, as they write it here) – is allergic to iron. Like, mortally so. I think this part, about the way the iron is everywhere in our modern world, about the anguish Mackie feels when the nausea overtakes him, when he nearly dies from the merest contact of anything remotely iron, is very well developed. Hallowed ground is another thing he can’t step into, and the author made his father the local preacher – how cool is that? How good the conflict there, of a man who knows what’s hiding under his roof, but still cares for him like a son? Even though the real son is now dead, in place of Mackie himself.

The supporting cast can be divided between Mackie’s friends and other fey. The friends, I liked: Roswell, for example, always supportive and never demanding, he put up with a lot of whims and let Mackie have his mysteries and his paranoia, always valuing him for who he was and not what he was. The twins, who don’t come up as often but still accept everything at face value and come through when they’re asked to. The sister, who is best friend and surrogate mother at the same time, the one whose love tethers Mackie to life. The fey, now, I liked too: from the Morrigan, a goddess of war transformed into a child, scared of her sister, trying to help the other fey and the dead as best as she can, to every other ugly, sometimes horrific creature to be found in Mayhem. They were ambiguous, and I was never sure whether they were good or bad or so selfish that they couldn’t be one thing or the other; I think this dichotomy fit them and in the end, I loved the lot of fey come what may.

So... what didn’t I like? The crush, mainly. Or perhaps I should say the romance in general. Let me explain: in the beginning, Mackie’s been crushing in someone for years, and never even noticed Tate. Then, suddenly, Tate comes up to him and asks him about this glaring secret, about her sister being stolen, and of course he panics and tries to act nonchalant. Fine. So, when does he suddenly crush on her, and why did I miss it? From then on, the relationship follows an up-and-down course, alternating between not even talking to one another and making out like there’s no tomorrow – and ultimately, to seriously compromise said tomorrow on behalf of this crush acquired just a few days earlier. Bit of a stretch for me.

Still, it doesn’t ruin the book. It’s just one detail, the one I thought I could comment on without spoiling the whole thing. Another – more fuzzy – detail, for example, is the goals Mackie sets himself, which made me wonder exactly what he tried to accomplish. Or the ending. I get why the book should end like it does, because frankly, that’s the first solution that comes to my mind about Gentry’s situation, but the fact that Mackie and the others are going for something else entirely, and this event just happens as a side-effect of their plan, it bothered me a little.

So, all in all, I enjoyed the book, liked the idea, had a good time reading, but couldn’t bring myself to care much for the main couple, and didn’t feel the compulsive need to find out what’s coming next and to finish already that always grips me with my favorite titles. Which doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy it – you might! If you like the genre and have the chance or the time, by all means read The Replacement... I just can’t find it in me to tell you to order it right now and read it ASAP, because it wasn’t that kind of read for me.


  1. I love your reviews! You are so detailed without giving spoilers...amazing:) I really like this cover, and I am going to put this on my to read list. Thanks!

  2. @Rebecca: Specially this cover! There's another edition, with a crib with a lot of scissors and other things hanging over it... and no hot guy ;) The gloomy feeling is well conveyed in both, though.

    Thank you so much for your comment! I'm glad you enjoy my reviews, and even more glad to hear they help! (I like talking about why I like or don't like the story, but I know how it feels when you learn too much, too early...)

  3. Great review, Ron! I always know I can get that from you. I've heard a little about this book, but never really looked into it. I have read very little of fey books, but I hope to try some soon.

  4. Hi Christy! Thanks so much! :) I love fey books, I think you'd enjoy them as well! Not sure if The Replacement would be the best place to start, because it represents the darker aspects and a little side-dish of creepy, but it still is okay. Quite close to real folk myth... Let me know which one you decide to read when you get around to the fey, anyway! :)

  5. Hi, Ron!

    Thank you so much for all the comments you've made on my blog!! Thanks as well for participating in my Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway!! Hope you're the lucky winnner!!!

    With all the hustle and bustle of the giveaway, I haven't had time to respond to your wonderful comments, but I will as soon as I start catching up, never fear!

    As for this review, as always, kudos!! You know I love to read your reviews, because they're so well-written, and you analyze the book in question so very thoroughly.

    I might go for this one, just to see if I could enjoy it, even though you only gave it three stars. The story does sound intriguing! I especially like the conflict you mentioned, between the fact that Mackie is one of the fey, and his human father is a preacher. Even though this does create an interesting conflict, it also makes me feel sad... To me, fairies have always seemed like such sweet, totally benign, magical beings. To have them be shown as evil in any way doesn't sit very well with me... But then, I guess I'm too influenced by Walt Disney -- when I think of fairies, it's Tinkerbell who first comes to mind. Lol.

    Thanks for another terrific review!! : )

    Maria @

  6. This book... I'm so conflicted about. I gave it 3 stars as well, because as you said, it didn't grip me like I wish it had and the romance was... yeah... there. BUT that said, I loved the world building... it's haunting and scary. The Morrigan and the rest of the fey? [shudder] It's a book that, even though it's not a favorite, my mind will wander back to, because it was so creepy and interesting. Fantastic review Ron! :)

  7. Huh.. dark and creepy sounds right up my alley.

  8. @Maria: Hey! Thanks so much! Don't worry about being busy, it goes with the dates ;) The conflict is very good, and the faeries are quite close to traditional folklore - with an original side dish, but still, I liked them. I think you would enjoy it, once you get past the creepy fairies.

    @Dani: Exactly. The fey were good, and I loved the way the author didn't forget Mackie's inhuman problems whenever it was convenient - they were consistent! But... yeah. Not a favorite. Thanks for the comment!

    @Christy: Haha! Then you'll like it, at the very least ;)