by Maria Moloney
Our Street Books
Back Cover: The full power of the freezing water crashed into them, knocking them off their feet, snatching Tara’s breath away. She managed to hook one arm around the handrail, trying her best to hold on to Lucy with the other. As one side of the bridge collapsed, Lucy’s feet scrabbled to keep a footing, but she slipped down the wooden planks. Tara lost her grip, but managed to grab Lucy’s hand as she held it out. She was left dangling over the water.
“I can’t hold on, Tara. Don’t let me fall! Please don’t let go!” Lucy begged, but her hand (was) beginning to slip from Tara’s.
There was no time to think. “No, I won’t let you go, Lucy.” With that, Tara let go of the handrail and they plunged together into the raging torrent.
Tara realizes (sic) there is something strange about herself when every time she goes into water her fingers begin to web and legs feel funny. But then her sister Niamh is a changeling, a fairy child exchanged for a human child ten years before. Now it’s time for Niamh to return to her own world, and Tara and friends, Lucy and Jared, intend to go with her.
First Sentence: Zalen was running out of time.
Ten years earlier, Tara and Niamh’s Father had gone on an expedition and never returned. Since then, the girls have been raised by their distant, anxiety filled mother and their eccentric, archaeologist Uncle Ferguson (dad’s brother). Uncle Ferguson told the girls a story about a strange figure switching babies and the father running after the thing with his daughter. The two went towards a mound very similar to the one behind the girl’s garden. Once the two got to the mound, a bright blue light flashed and all three were gone. They had entered a gateway to the Otherworld. The two girls asked Uncle Ferguson were their dad had gone on expedition but he deflected their question, suggesting they root around in the attic. The girls found an old family album. Inside was a picture of Tara as a toddler, Niamh as a baby, and Mom. Only the baby looked nothing like Niamh did as a baby. Something was wrong, but what?
Today is Niamh’s eleventh birthday and she is having a sleep-over with her best friend Lucy and brother Jared—he must go everywhere his sister goes because she once wandered off, scaring their parents—and Tara. After Mom and Uncle Ferguson fell asleep, the four made plans to see if there is, in fact, a gateway near the mound behind the garden. Once there, Niamh and Lucy held hands and entered the area behind the dry moat mound—a blue light flashed and they were gone! Jared and Tara slowly walked to where they last saw their sisters—poof! A blue light flashed and the two flipped into the Otherworld.
Now they need to find Tara’s real sister and her father. The four children walk through the lands, facing strange creatures at every turn, including a black raven and a brown rabbit—which had also menacingly shown itself at the mound in the human world—and a white stag. The dangers are immense in this Otherworld. As they journey, the kids find that not all are what they seem, enchantments, glamour, and other types of magic lie all around them, and a royal wedding is in the planning that could drastically change the Otherworld. To get the answers, and the people they are looking for, the kids will need to face Queen Marvaanagh, who is working hard to kill all but Niamh.
The Changeling Quest is a very good story. The characters are three-dimensional and entwined enough to make things mysterious. All believe Niamh to be royalty and have magical abilities. From the beginning, I thought Jared would be a problem. He was simply tagging along and guarding his sister from trouble. Jared becomes central to their fights with odd creatures, which are all doing Queen Marvaanagh’s evil bidding. The narration is from Tara’s point of view, which is solid. Throughout the journey, Tara steps up most of the time. Lucy becomes more of a liability as she nearly drowns, poisoned by a gigantic worm’s spitball, and requires the care of several people, sometimes slowing down the group.
The Otherworld is visible thanks to all the vivid descriptions and feels very real midway through the story. Once I thought I had read enough clues to know what would happen. Most of the time I was wrong, but only the next book in the series will tell if I have been very wrong. I think kids will enjoy the various . . . um, “people.” There are so many different magical beings throughout the story. Knowing each one is critical to the character’s safety, but the land can change in an instant. Even inanimate objects such as trees and scarecrows can be a hazard if approached incorrectly.
The Changeling Quest does contain a few frustrations for the reader. The author has made numerous errors of grammar, mostly omitting conjunctions; several words are misspelled or a typo; and she mixed up the names of two characters, causing confusion to this reader.
That aside, The Changeling Quest is an adventurous story that will engage its audience, causing rapidly turning pages and open books until the last page has been read. There would seem to be much violence in this story but the author has wisely chosen her words making those scenes less violent than they probably should be. No one is going to suffer nightmares from reading this imaginative fantasy of two divided families getting a chance to reunite their members and understand their history.
by Maria Moloney website blog facebook twitter Our Street Books website blog facebook twitter Released March 16, 2013 ISBN: 978-1-78099-405-5 206 Pages Ages 8 to 12 . Copyright © 2013 by OUrStreet Books Text: Copyright © 2013 by Maria Moloney
BOOK DONATED TO THE LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY
- What is a changeling? (wisegeek.com)