Published: September 21, 2010
Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.
Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.y… (goodreads.com)
Somethings should exist, or rather, we want them to. There are things that we believe in simply because we cling to the childish fantasies that so delighted us in our youth that even our grown-up selves still long for their existence. Fairies, elves, sleeping princesses and far away magical kingdoms- we dream of them with our eyes open and shut and wish for them so intensely that in a way they can almost be real.1
But there are some things…that should not be. Things no one wants to believe in or even give thought to for fear that thinking them will make them so. In the town of Gentry, children and adults alike fall asleep at night, staring out into the darkness, trying very hard to not give thought to the unthinkable. Instead, they arm themselves with charms and amulets and superstitions and chose to believe in the protection these things might provide rather than believe in what they protect against.2
Malcolm Doyle has grown up in the midst of all the town fails to acknowledge. He knows all too well that in the town of Gentry, children disappear, children die and sometimes, children who are not children manage to live. Malcolm knows this because Malcolm is one of those things that should not be.3
“Gentry was two different things, and at night, I could always see that second thing better. The town was its green suburban lawns, sure, but it was also its secrets. The kind of place where people double-checked the locks at night or pulled their kids closer in the grocery store. They hung horseshoes over their front doors and put up bells instead of wind chimes. They wore crosses made from stainless steel instead of gold because gold couldn’t protect them from people like me.”
If you are the type that likes to curl up under the covers with a flashlight or read by the soft, faint glow of a book light, then I suggest you read something else. If you are brave enough to carelessly let your feet dangle off the side of the bed when you sleep, you might want to reconsider your sleeping arrangements when you read this book. You’ll find no pretty words and places in this book. No castles made out of clouds will be conjured up by your imagination during the telling of this story. What you’ll find is fear, and death and rot.4
And you will love this story. It’s so very, very different from the YA fiction written lately. It’s dark, dark fantasy, and yet so prettily done that it’s artistic instead of gory. Yovanoff writes with a jagged pen, with a dark medium that might just not be ink. She paints images with angry brush strokes, smeared over the pages, leaving you to pull your own pictures out of the mayhem. It’s dark, and at times grotesque but it is full of marvelous adventure from start to end.
Mackie Doyle’s character warrants a certain amount of pity. His story is not a happy one. But can you really feel sorry for him, knowing what he is- better yet, what he isn’t? He’s so unnatural that at first he’s hard to bond with but we are given such an in depth look into his character that you can’t help but love him, and even love him for what he is. He’s an unlikely hero, the best kind, and he fights for all the right reasons. We are also given the little gem that is Tate, a girl struggling with grief over the loss of her sister, hell bent on getting Mackie to confess to what she knows he knows. She operates with a short fuse, one that is constantly lit and she doesn’t just threaten to blow up- she does. Repeatedly. She’s marvelous! I love the relationships Mackie forms with his friends, who approach him with the same mentality as they do the horrible happenings in the town. They know what he is, but as long as no one says it, they can go on believing that they don’t.
“She closed her eyes and moved her lips before she spoke, like she was practicing the words. “It wasn’t my sister in that box, it was something else. I know my sister, and whatever died in that crib, it wasn’t her.”
I love the mythological tie in present, with the Morrigan and the Lady (who I can only guess at who she is but it is abundantly clear that she’s nothing good) and their gruesome idea of what constitutes love and tribute. It’s so very disturbing and primitive and raw. It’s wonderful. I devoured this story. It’s one of those you fall into and you forget that you are actually reading a book until you turn the last page and it’s over.
If this is the stuff Miz Yovanoff is made of than I can’t wait to see where she takes us next. We’ll probably be too scared to go, but we’ll get up and check- just as if we heard a noise upstairs and we know no one else is home.5
Read this so we can talk about it. And let me know if anyone else kept thinking of the scary bits in the 1989 movie, Little Monsters. You’re probably too young to remember that. *sigh*
1 Now this was quite a silly view to take. I know better. I am fully aware that these things exist. Fairies and Elves are real. Why on earth would anyone believe otherwise?
2 Well actually, fairies are more like this. They are not nice creatures and it’s foolish and dangerous to believe anything else. But I still maintain that elves are perfect. In my mind, all elves are Tolkien elves.
3 Looking back, I perhaps insinuated that this book was much scarier than it actually was, and that’s alright. It was much darker than anything I had read at the time.
4 Now this is all very much true and you’re completely stupid if you let your legs dangle over the side of the bed at night.
5 I still have a slew of fond memories about this book. It really is something special. I got totally caught up in all the flower descriptions (decaying, compost type flowery) and I can always appreciate when anyone does the Fae justice by not pretending that they are nicey nice things. Fairies are evil. Duh. Magic 101. But I picked this book for this week’s OMwF because my awesome book club, YAckers has chosen Miz Yovanoff’s newest book, Paper Valentine for our February read! I’m hopeful that this will be a good pick.