Book Review: Changeling (Order of Darkness #1) by Philippa Gregory

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.    

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.     

The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is grounded in historical communities and their mythic beliefs. It includes a medieval map of Europe that will track their journey; and the interior will include relevant decorative elements as well as an interior line illustration. And look for a QR code that links to a note from the author with additional, detailed information about the setting and the history that informed the writing. With Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch, this novel deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—vividly and disturbingly to life.

Release Date: May 24, 2012
Age Group:  Young Adult
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Source: Purchased

As soon as I saw that Philippa Gregory started a YA series, I bought the first book.  I didn't even read the summary---I just knew I had to read Changeling.  By the way, that kind of impulse buying is exactly the kind of behavior that gets me in trouble with my husband.

I have read two Philippa Gregory books in the past, The White Queen, and The Red Queen, but I haven't picked up any of her other books in a while.  At the time I read her first two books, I told myself I was going to read everything by her that I could get my hands on, but life happened and I started going for fast, easy reads.  Can you blame me: I got pregnant and had pregnancy-brain, and then the baby came and I had (and still have) mommy-brain!

Anyway, I was really excited about Changeling, excited that I could enjoy Philippa Gregory's writing in a faster, easier read.  Overall, I really enjoyed Changeling.  I loved getting to know both Luca and Isolde.  The character development was great, especially the minor characters.  They really added a lot to the story.  I loved the plot and how Luca figures things out at the end.  And my favorite part of the story was Isolde and Ishraq's friendship.  They are more like sisters, and Ishraq is completely devoted to Isolde (in a platonic way).  I loved that!

My complaint about Changeling is that the story seemed to jump around.  I felt like Gregory didn't have enough material to make the convent-based part of the story into a full-length novel, so she added the part about the wolf in the next town just as filler.  It didn't seem to flow with the rest of the story to me.  I enjoyed both parts of the book, but thought there should have been more transition from one part to the next.  The ending was choppy as well, which left me feeling pretty unsatisfied.

Overall, I would definitely still recommend Changeling.  The story was engrossing, the characters were well-developed, and the romance was forbidden.  I look forward to the next book in the series, and will be buying it as soon as it's released!


  1. Sorry that it jumped around but the characters sound great.
    I haven't read anything by her, but considering it.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  2. I also have a book blog I do, and I love Philippa Gregory's other novels. This one was different for me, but it was enjoyable to read. It was intense and not at all expected. I found some things odd about the book, but it was meant for a younger audience so it read far easier than her other books. Not as much material or details, etc.


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