In a whirlwind of enchanted language, LaValle takes his readers on a journey that mashes horror and magical realism. Apollo has it all – the beautiful wife, a brand-new baby, and his own business as a bookseller. Perfect life becomes sinister when it seems that Apollo’s wife is experiencing postpartum depression. This is where the story turns terrifying. Emma commits a seriously horrific act and disappears. Apollo must reassemble his crumbling world and find out what really happened that night.
This novel takes the reader on a ride from literary fiction to horror to magical realism. When reading, the first third of the novel seems quite realistic and literary. Apollo is navigating getting married and becoming a father. It seems to be a domestic drama. Towards the middle of the novel, horror comes into play in a few scenes that are better left for the reader to discover on their own. Lastly, the final third of the novel is heavy in magical realism as Apollo tries to sort his life out. The genre mashup works extremely well in LaValle’s prose.
“Do you know how much harm ‘happily ever after’ has done to mankind? I wish they said something else at the end of those stories instead. ‘They tried to be happy.’ Or ‘Eternal happiness is a fruitless pursuit.”
This novel is over 400 pages, yet LaValle manages to have the reader racing through each and every page. It took me a very short amount of time to read this large novel because every time I’d sit down, I’d read 100 pages in a sitting. This narrative is just so compelling. LaValle creates a fairy tale-like aura in this novel that makes the reader live the narrative, right next to Apollo. Be prepared to have complex emotions and gasp many a time.
“Even if you choose to ignore the truth, the truth still changes you.”
Typically, I am not a fan of fantasy. The Changeling sometimes borders on the edge of fantasy. However, I wasn’t bothered at all. LaValle’s writerly skill eliminated my dislike of fantasy and I found extreme merit in his use of the genre lightly sprinkled throughout. This novel is fantasy, horror, magical realism, horror, thriller all in one. LaValle doesn’t typecast himself or his novel into one category and the novel strongly benefits because of it. There is some amazing racial commentary in this novel as well.
I adored this novel and found it to be one of the most compelling that I’ve read in quite a while. It’ll keep you racing through the pages to journey with Apollo as he navigates fatherhood, race, the world of technology, and some surprises along the way.
Read about LaValle’s perspective on The Changeling.