Book Review: “The Changelings” by Elle Casey

Title: The Changelins (War of the Fey #1)
Author: Elle Casey
Genre: Fantasy
Intended audience: YA
Date Read: 04/12/2022 – 08/12/2022


I don’t write a lot of 1-star reviews. Usually if a book is that bad, I DNF. But this one was for a readathon and also, with all the plane and train travel I’m doing at the moment, I had the time to commit to it despite not enjoying it.

Usually when I dislike a book this much, I am happy to say “Obviously this wasn’t for me, no book can be for everyone”. But I am surprised just how unanimous the 4 and 5-star reviews are. I would have expected them to be a bit more mixed all things considered.

To be honest, I found none of the characters that interesting. They were all pretty superficial to me. The main character, Jayne, has supposed recently been dealing with sexual abuse from her mother’s boyfriend, but the effects of this are never really delved into and it felt like it was just used as a convenient reason for Jayne to want to skip town.

I could honestly barely tell the other characters apart, and I kept forgetting which guy was supposed to be the love interest. And while most of the characters have known Jayne for a matter of four days, at the end when they have to declare the innermost desire in order to move forward, these two guys both declare they want to protect her?

Plot-wise, I felt like I was mislead. This felt like The Hunger Games or something, rather than a fantasy novel. Yes, there were supernatural creatures, but it felt more like a series of action scenes, with each one separate to the others, and no connection or cause and effect. And apparently while many of them were presented as foes, they’re actually all on the same side at the end?

I was also annoyed that Casey ignored the traditional meaning of the word “changeling”, made it mean what she wanted it to mean in her world, and then went so far as to address this, saying “oh, yeah, the meaning diverged between humans and fey over the centuries”. Whatever.

The other thing that bothered me was the casual ableism, homophobia, etc. Jayne says she can’t be blamed for wanting to laugh at the dwarf (a human with Dwarfism, not a fantasy dwarf a la Tolkien) in commando gear, and also refers to her “OCD” step-mother. Then there’s the stereotypically queer-coded vampire making leery comments, and Jayne’s outdated references to “bitchy gay guys”. Yes, the book is 10 years old. Yes, maybe the author doesn’t include this sort of thing anymore. But ugggh.

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