Sunday, 11 April 2010
Review: The Changeling Series by Steve Feasey
Trey thought he was an ordinary teenager. Then he meets a mysterious stranger, Lucien Charron – luminously pale, oddly powerful, with eyes that seem flecked with fire and skin that blisters in sunlight. Somehow Trey finds himself in a luxury London penthouse, like a Bond villain’s lair. It’s the heart of a sinister empire, built on the powers of the netherworld – werewolves, vampires, sorcerers, djinns. And Trey himself has a power that’s roaring to break free. Is he a boy or is he a beast?
The world has gone vampire crazy and adult books featuring these creatures of the night and a host of other supernatural beings are being released almost daily under the banner of Urban Fantasy. In YA literature however, vampires and Shan's demons were reigning supreme, until the beginning of 2009 when the first book in Steve Feasey's Changeling series was released (the series is known as Wereling in the USA). Having become a little bored with the genre I never picked up Changeling at the time, and it is only recently that I have read the books, thanks to Dom Kingston at Macmillan who sent me all three of the books released so far. I am so grateful that he got in touch through my blog - it was a rare luxury to be able to read three excellent books in a series for the first time, almost back-to-back.
The first book in the series focuses on orphan Trey's personal voyage of discovery as he finds out that he is a werewolf, the only pure blood still in existance. He is helped on this journey by his new vampire mentor Lucien Charron, Lucien's daughter Alexa, and tough guy/troubleshooter Tom Callaghan, one of the few humans we come across in these books. This new found 'family' aid Trey in coming to terms with his new abilities, and also train him in the skills he will need should he ever come face to face with his nemesis, the evil vampire Caliban, who is determined to wipe all pure blood werewolves off the face of the planet.
I am determined not to give too much away in case you have not yet read any of these books, so I am not going to mention too much of their plots. Suffice to say, Steve Feasey has created a well imagined world, where creatures of the netherworld are used for both good and bad. The author has dreamed up a myriad of these nether-creatures, including shapeshifters, a battle-angel and my favourite, the particularly nasty Necrotroph. This demon is pure evil, desribed as a "hard-to-kill parasitic demon. Inhabits a body and controls the victom's mind. Leaves its prey dead or insane". The Necrotroph plays a big part in the second and third books and the scenes in which it appears are particularly dark and terrifying. Steve Feasey very kindly provides us with a demon lexicon in each of the books, a nice reference aid to help the reader keep up with the array of creatures that appear throughout the story.
Boys will love these books (and probably a large number of girls as well). Trey is a very believable character and despite being a werewolf many boys will be able to identify with him and the challenges and new emotions he faces. The plot is very fast paced and full of great action scenes, and there are many quieter moments that help build the tension so that the final climactic scenes feel even more rewarding when you get to them.
Trey is no Twilight Jacob Black-style shapeshifter; when he changes he becomes a werewolf in the traditional sense - half human, half wolf - a brutal, towering beast who manages to retain his human thoughts and emotions only by wearing an ancient amulet that prevents him from becoming Wolfan, when his animal side would completely take over. It is not until the third book, Blood Wolf, that we see what a Wolfan is really capable of, and it certainly ain't pretty. In this book Trey's voyage of discovery takes him further afield, when he flies to Canada to search for his long estranged Uncle Frank. Where the other books focused on Trey's fight against Caliban and his netherworld forces this book is much more about Trey trying to find somewhere he feels he truly belongs. During this Canadian visit he discovers the LG78, a pack of Wolfan living on Frank's land, and these creatures do not have an amulet to suppress their basic animal instincts, and at this point Steve Feasey really lets rip and we see far more blood than in either of the previous books.
The greatest benefit of reading a series of books back-to-back is seeing how the characters develop, especially the secondary ones. The first book in any series has to focus primarily on devloping a small handful of characters. This is especially the case in books in this genre where a main protagonist has to come to terms with discovering they are not human and Changeling is no exception. Dark Moon and Blood Wolf see characters other then Trey having to deal with new challenges and emotions and then leave us wanting even more. The great news is that according to Amazon Demon Games, the fourth book in the series, is due to be released in September. I am very excited about this book, but I am not going to say any more about it now as very soon The Book Zone will be featuring an interview with Steve Feasey in which he tells us a little more about this book.