The Changeling by Victor LaValle
A Novel

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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.”
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

“If the literary gods mixed together Haruki Murakami and Ralph Ellison, the result would be Victor LaValle.”—Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See

When Apollo Kagwa’s father disappeared, all he left his son were strange recurring dreams and a box of books stamped with the word IMPROBABILIA. Now Apollo is a father himself—and as he and his wife, Emma, are settling into their new lives as parents, exhaustion and anxiety start to take their toll. Apollo’s old dreams return and Emma begins acting odd. Irritable and disconnected from their new baby boy, at first Emma seems to be exhibiting signs of postpartum depression, but it quickly becomes clear that her troubles go even deeper. Before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act—beyond any parent’s comprehension—and vanishes, seemingly into thin air.

Thus begins Apollo’s odyssey through a world he only thought he understood, to find a wife and child who are nothing like he’d imagined. His quest, which begins when he meets a mysterious stranger who claims to have information about Emma’s whereabouts, 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.

This captivating retelling of a classic fairy tale imaginatively explores parental obsession, spousal love, and the secrets that make strangers out of the people we love the most. It’s a thrilling and emotionally devastating journey through the gruesome legacies that threaten to devour us and the homely, messy magic that saves us, if we’re lucky.

Advance praise for The Changeling

“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

“Like a good Coen brothers film, this genre-defying, achingly literate phantasmagoria of a novel will work every nook and cranny of the imagination, taking the reader to places we’re either too afraid to visit or never knew existed.”—Paul Beatty, author of The Sellout

“Absolutely compelling, completely thrilling, The Changeling overflows with menace, wonder, and beauty.”—Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble

“This year, the most unsettling novel I read, the scariest novel I read, and the most beautiful novel I read were all the same one—Victor LaValle’s The Changeling. A father who loses his wife and child in an act of horror must hunt them into metaphorical hell to get them back again. This story feels less written, than channeled. I say this without exaggeration: It’s a masterpiece.”—Mat Johnson, author of Pym and Loving Day

“LaValle has a knack for blending social realism with genre tropes, and this blend of horror story and fatherhood fable is surprising and admirably controlled. . . . LaValle has successfully delivered a tale of wonder and thoughtful exploration of what it means to be a parent. A smart and knotty merger of horror, fantasy, and realism.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 

About Victor LaValle

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Victor LaValle is the award-winning author of two previous novels, The Ecstatic and Big Machine, and a collection of short stories, Slapboxing with Jesus. Big Machine was the winner of an American Book Award and the Shirley Jackson Award in 2010, and was selected as one of the best books of the year by the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Nation, and Publishers Weekly. He teaches writing at Columbia University and lives in New York.
 
Published June 13, 2017 by Spiegel & Grau. 448 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Horror, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Sep 28 2017

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.”

Read Full Review of The Changeling: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

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