One man’s thrilling journey through an enchanted world to find his wife, who has disappeared after seemingly committing an unforgiveable act of violence, from the award-winning author of the The Devil in Silver and Big Machine.
“If the literary gods mixed together Haruki Murakami and Ralph Ellison…the result would be Victor LaValle.”—Anthony Doerr
Apollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood. An antiquarian book dealer with a business called Improbabilia, he is just beginning to settle into his new life as a committed and involved father, unlike his own father who abandoned him, when his wife Emma begins acting strange. Disconnected and uninterested in their new baby boy, Emma at first seems to be exhibiting all the signs of post-partum depression, but it quickly becomes clear that her troubles go far beyond that. Before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act—beyond any parent’s comprehension—and vanishes, seemingly into thin air. Thus begins Apollo’s odyssey through a world he only thought he understood to find a wife and child who are nothing like he’d imagined. His quest begins when he meets a mysterious stranger who claims to have information about Emma’s whereabouts. Apollo then begins a journey that takes him to a forgotten island in the East River of New York City, a graveyard full of secrets, a forest in Queens where immigrant legends still live, and finally back to a place he thought he had lost forever. This dizzying tale is ultimately a story about family and the unfathomable secrets of the people we love.
The Changeling is an enchanting book where Victor LaValle draws out every detail to slowly bring you along on an emotional journey about the artistry of family. It has moments of beauty, pain, and just enough mystery to keep you curious as to what he will spring out of the hat next.
Apollo is the kind of man many women wish for but always seem to overlook. The guy who deserves a second look because he’s the one who will make you feel like a princess; LaValle has written a truly interesting character in him. Reading about Emma’s birthing experience made me glad I had a C-section. When the author starts describing how Apollo & Emma have their baby living on social media I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or groan. I’m pretty sure we’ve all known these kinds of parents who practically have their kid set up with a marketing team considering all the photos they post across every platform tech has created.
Eventually you get through the parts where this seems like any ‘normal’ book about a woman who was suffering extreme post-partum depression and it shifts into a magical side of the world where everything you know blinds you from seeing the truth. LaValle used early American history and tales from other cultures to create a rich world layered over the one we see every day. Characters out of our imaginations, or nightmares depending on your point of view, come alive to push you through a journey of self-discovery and adventure. The mysticism and old world religious beliefs made for an additional sense of wonder and intrigue.
Then you get to the root of the story, the dangers of social media, but even that is a benign description for the horror we have created. Technology has created online windows into our homes and families where we invite monsters from a Wes Craven movie to come tear up our lives then have the audacity to act outraged when we become victims of our own making.
The true magic of the story isn’t the trolls, witches, ancient pacts or anything else like that, it’s the love that the author was able to bring out of tragedy. It was showing what a parent is willing to do for their kid; that in the end love really does conquer all.
By the way, thanks Mr. LaValle for the advice – there is electrical tape over my computer’s camera to keep out the monsters.
Thank you to Netgalley and Random House allowing me to review this book.
Buy at Amazon: http://a.co/eDIOTRq
*synopsis and pic from amazon.com