The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is not a series! For that alone it deserves five stars... but wait - there's more.
This is a dark story, about the town of Gentry and the, well, I don't know what to call them but they're dead and live underground and Gentry pays tribute to them. The tribute can be in the form of love and devotion, or in the form of sacrifice (and usually little babies, at that).
Mackie is one of the replacement children, a thing left in place of the real Malcolm Doyle. Usually these replacements die relatively soon, but for some reason, Mackie's made it through to high school. He is dying, because he's allergic to iron and blood and a host of other things make him ill, but he's dying a whole lot older than the other replacements. Despite being very different, he has friends and quite possibly a girlfriend.
I liked that he's presented as being as normal as you can be, under the circumstances. He knows he's not really human, but he's going to be human for as long as he can be. His family's complicit in this, helping him find ways to fit in despite the differences. The relationships he has with his friends and with Alice and Tate are presented as real, not as inhuman-posing-as-human.
Then there's the Morrigan, the Lady, the Cutter, the dead ghoul-girls and that whole plot. It's darker than most fantasy books these days, without the flickers of funny that many seem to have (as though to say "see, I'm not that bad!"). Mackie's final choice makes sense, given what he's been through, rather than appearing to be too heroic or predestined.
This isn't an easy fantasy book, or horror book, or whatever genre "they" put it in to. It's dark, and not in a seductive way. I think it will appeal to both male and female readers because of that.
ARC provided by publisher.
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