“[This] haunting tale weaves a mesmerizing web around fatherhood, racism, horrific anxieties and even To Kill a Mockingbird. And the backdrop for this rich phantasmagoria? The boroughs of New York.”—The New York Times
Winner of an American Book Award, a Locus Award for Best Horror Novel, a British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel, a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel • Nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award, an International Dublin Literary Award, a Mythopoeic Award for Literature
When Apollo Kagwa’s father disappeared, he left his son a box of books and strange recurring dreams. Now Apollo is a father himself—and as he and his wife, Emma, settle into their new lives as parents, exhaustion and anxiety start to take their toll. Apollo’s old dreams return and Emma begins acting odd. At first Emma seems to be exhibiting signs of postpartum depression. But before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act and vanishes. Thus begins Apollo’s quest to find a wife and child who are nothing like he’d imagined. His odyssey takes him to a forgotten island, a graveyard full of secrets, a forest where immigrant legends still live, and finally back to a place he thought he had lost forever.
NAMED ONE OF PASTE’S BEST HORROR BOOKS OF THE DECADE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times • USA Today • The New York Public Library • NPR • BuzzFeed • Kirkus Reviews • Book Riot
“The thriller you won’t be able to put down.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“By turns enchanting, infuriating, horrifying, and heartbreaking, The Changeling is never less than completely engaging.”—NPR
“Strange and wonderful.”—The New York Times
“A dark fairy tale of New York, full of magic and loss, myth and mystery, love and madness. The Changeling is a mesmerizing, monumental work.”—Marlon James, author of A Brief History of Seven Killings
“[A] bewitching masterpiece . . . Like a woke Brothers Grimm, his clever new spin on the ages-old changeling myth is a modern fairy tale for the Trump era, taking on fatherhood, parenting, marriage, immigration, race and terrifying loss.”—USA Today
“Intense, riveting . . . The story is a long, slow burn with a lingering sizzle.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
“A modern-day tale of terror rooted in ancient myth and folklore, brimming with magical revelation and emotional truth.”—San Francisco Chronicle
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
All Apollo Kagwa wanted was a happy family. Now, he’ll pass through the boundaries of reality to get them back. After giving birth to their baby son, Apollo’s wife, Emma, snapped, apparently killing her newborn before disappearing without a trace. Postpartum depression would seem to be the reason—or is something more sinister to blame? Author Victor LaValle weaves layer upon layer into this beautiful and disturbing fairy tale, as the slim leads Apollo follows to find Emma send him into enchanted islands and magical forests. The Changeling blends very real issues like racism and the struggles of parenthood with Hans Christian Andersen-like witches, goblins, and trolls, both the under-the-bridge and online kinds. LaValle’s sparkling prose makes Apollo feel gorgeously realistic, even as he inhabits a decidedly fantastical version of modern New York City. Grotesque, funny, and filled with hope, this touching story explores family, loss, and how surreal the world can seem when our lives spiral out of control.
LaValle (The Ballad of Black Tom) displays his unique brand of trippy fabulism in his gripping latest, a modern-day fairy tale about a devoted father's confrontation with evil. "The wildness had only begun," says the narrator early on in the novel, a statement borne out by the eerie, fantastic events to come. The son of a Ugandan woman who raised him on her own, Apollo Kagwa scrapes together a living rummaging through estate sales for rare books. The novel takes its time warming up, somewhat leisurely describing Apollo courting, marrying, and having a baby with Emma Valentine, then becoming a so-called "New Dad": a conscientious, diaper-changing, "emotionally available" modern man. Then the wildness begins with a staggering scene in which Apollo's family is torn apart. In his quest to put himself and his family back together, Apollo, steered by a computer-savvy client interested in one of his rare books, journeys into New York City's hidden enchanted places. There he encounters old magic, monsters, and wicked fathers. LaValle makes occasionally strained efforts to weave contemporary concerns helicopter parenting, online oversharing, and Internet trolls into this elemental fabric. Nonetheless, the novel works best when immersed in the violent, unpredictable realm of dark fairy tales, which, as one character tells Apollo, "are not for children."