Magical Realism at Its Finest
The Changeling by Victor LaValle is a novel that defies genre and plays by rules of its own. In fact, one of the aspects that I loved most about it was how it hit a lot of my interests at once: horror, fantasy, folklore, magical realism. I felt like I was reading a fairy tale gone horribly wrong, and there were so many terrifying and magical components to the plot that every time I thought I knew where I was headed, I found myself lost in the forest again, desperately seeking someone to show me the way.
With themes of parenting, family secrets, grief, and the overarching reach of social media, the novel—while speculative in nature—hit a lot of real-world issues, too. For instance, in an age where technology is another extension of ourselves, this book challenges not only our attachment to it, but our dependency as well. For me, that’s were a lot of the horror elements were found: in something that I do and use every day of my life. Furthermore, LaValle also tackled the trope of the monstrous woman and the unfit mother, two personal favorites of mine in literature. Here he pushed readers to think, to reconsider, to put themselves in Apollo’s shoes. It was maddening, surreal. But it was also passionate and horrifying and beautiful. This is a book that challenges not only your morals or your faith, but how you define love, compassion, and forgiveness, too.
I really enjoyed exploring the many facets of Emma and Apollo’s relationship/marriage, and as their kettle began to scream louder and louder, I, too, felt myself getting burned.
I give this book 4 out of 5 spells.