Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Review: Changeling (The Order of Darkness #1) by Philippa Gregory

Title: Changeling (The Order of Darkness #1)
Author: Philippa Gregory
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publishing Date: May 24th 2012
Length: 272 pages
Keywords: YA fiction, historical, romance
Source: Publisher

Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.   

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.    

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.     

Summary by Goodreads 

Historical romance is a genre I’ve enjoyed reading for quite a while now. You can imagine my elation when I heard that there would be a YA historical fiction book coming out by Simon & Schuster UK. And as I really enjoyed Philippa Gregory’s YA debut, I regret not knowing about her numerous other historical novels before.

The setting of 15th century Italy with its nunnery, various villages and the capital Rome is simply atmospheric. Philippa Gregory’s newest novel is in no way inferior to other adult historical novels. CHANGELING too has the great motives and emotions moving the population of the Middle Ages.

About Luca and Isolde. I can tell you that equally large parts of the story, told by an omniscient narrator, are focused on both of their perspectives. We get their different views on current events and see them in action to further investigate in the scary incidents plaguing the nunnery’s peace. I expected so much to happen between them, the story focusing on a romantic relationship between them, but so far only glimpses of their feelings for each other are revealed. Philippa Gregory left Luca and Isolde’s relationship at a point I so badly wanted to continue, to know what would come next.

Luca appears like the strong investigator empowered by God. Isolde seems to be a fragile young lady, a victim of her lord’s greed. But when it comes to looking into Luca’s past he can suddenly be more vulnerable. And having retribution and honour as incentive Isolde appears to be the ruler she was born to be. I’m waiting for more revelations about both of their pasts in a sequel.

Their companions Freize and Ishraq complement their masters and friends with their abilities to fight and see into the heart of the most frightening creatures out there. There’s a lot of tension between the two of them and their banter and their bluff manners felt amusing and gave the story some spice.

To help the reader navigate through the story, one of the first pages of the book contains a drawn map that allows us to follow their journey. Each new chapter of the book, there are only a few since they mostly stretch over many pages, is illustrated artfully with an image of a new location. Chapters are organised in smaller sections by further illustrative dividers. CHANGELING is illustrated by Fred van Deelen and Sally Taylor.

Evil conspiracies, crazy nuns, terrifying monsters and new questions for investigator Luca keep the story moving through minor stagnations in story flow, especially through the often dialogue-heavy segments of interrogations.

Where other historical novels can reach high page counts between 500 and 1000 pages sometimes, CHANGELING with its 272 pages can be considered a quick bite for connoisseurs of historical romances. A shortcoming resulting from mentioned page count could be seen in less space to develop characters, respectively to put the major events and more relevant incidents in motion.
At the same moment CHANGELING can also mean a good start into the historical direction for YA fans that are looking for a new story that can be consumed in bite-sized parts.
Of course Philippa’s CHANGELING also shouldn’t go unnoticed by her devoted fans and adult readers. They better bring some patience with them, because the story of Luca and Isolde has just begun. Now it’s Philippa’s turn to continue their journey. I will be awaiting the sequel with much anticipation! 

1) of a rich Italian scenery
2) of a sly conspiracy
3) of an efficient and amiable investigator duo
4) of a strong heroine who fights for her rights and honour
5) of an artfully illustrated book

4/5 **** CHANGELING- A historical YA feast that serves its readers with a rich 15th century Italian scenery and prominent characters!

Why aren’t there more historical stories that come together with YA and fiction?
It’s the pull of the conspiracies and new quests sending our group of young heroes on a journey through the landscape of medieval Italy and the skilful way of Philippa Gregory to weave historical fiction that make CHANGELING so appealing, to various audiences no matter the age. 


* Want to read more by Philippa Gregory? Check out her other books!

* Read an excerpt of CHANGELING here

* Click here to watch the book trailer. 

* Visit for further information about Philippa Gregory and her books.

* Thanks to Simon & Schuster UK for sending me a copy of CHANGELING for review! 


  1. Great to read a positive review of this one. I've read a couple of her adult novels and I'm very excited for this one. Historical is my favorite. Great review! Thanks.

  2. There was a time when I only read Historical Fiction - I love it!!! However, the synopsis is not truly grabbing me, although you loved it so much .. hm!
    Lovely Review!

  3. I cannot wait to read this one. Your review is awesome and makes me want to read this one even sooner. I love historical fiction and I am glad to see you enjoyed this one :)

  4. Glad you enjoyed this one! I'm a big fan of Philippa Gregory and can't wait to read it soon! :)

  5. Great review! I'm super excited to get to this one. It has a very original premise and the setting sounds glorious! :D

    Sierra @ Yearning to Read

  6. This sounds like a great read! I haven't come across it before, but I definitely want to read it now. Awesome review! :)

  7. To be honest: I don't know who Philippa Gregory is :D I've never heard of her before. But now, well, Changeling is on my wishlist! Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the review!

    Bye for now, Lisa ♥