The Replacement - Brenna Yovanoff Financially you are very lucky indeed, if you are born as an inhabitant of the small town Gentry: Although all around the industry’s prospects are bleak, Gentry still flourishes. This astonishing piece of luck is something best not talked about. That is the consensus of the supersticious townsfolk. Equally hushed are murmurs concerning the random bad luck which eventually strikes among the community: Every now and then an infant suddenly dies.

Mackie Doyle knows that he, too, would have died as a baby – were it not for his sister Emma, who as a tiny girl nursed him back to health, in spite of the knowledge that the crib held a replacement instead of her brother, and his parents, Gentry’s Methodist preacher and his wife, who taught their changeling son from an early age to keep his otherness (intolerance of blood, iron and sanctified ground and also heightened senses) hidden on all accounts. Their caution even includes a "no-visitors-to-the-house" rule, because they fear their iron-free household might start the community's rumors. Therefore Mackie is quite at a loss when his moody and fierce classmate Tate, whose baby sister Natalie just recently “died,” pesters him of all people relentlessly for answers and help and seems to be immune to his habitual elusiveness.
As Mackie’s physical condition worsens, because being perpetually surrounded by iron and blood seems to poison him slowly causing breathing difficulties and fainting fits, and members of his people repeatedly appear, inviting him to return to the dark and underground "House of Mayhem”, he decides to try to find out what really happened to Natalie, to his town and to himself. His visit to one of the two dangerous female rulers of the supernatural realms puts him smack into the middle of a ruthless power struggle between evil in the shape of beautiful decay and maybe-evil-maybe-less-evil in the shape of an ugly, capricious little girl with too many teeth.

I am usually not a great fan of horror tales. I am rather the girl with her head between her knees when things become gruesome at the movies. But Brenna Yovanoff does this mixture of urban fantasy, love story and eerie, eerie, horror fiction so beautifully, so vividly, colorfully, tenderly and poetically I simply had to love it and to savor each description without closing my inner eyes. The disclosure of the shocking facts also works great for the reader: It is clear from the beginning that Mackie knows more than he lets slip, but his eyes get opened wider along with the reader’s.

Mackie is an unusual character, he stands out, but at the same time he is a quite normal sixteen-year-old: He admits admiring classroom bitch Alice because of her attractive exterior and detects only gradually the lovable layers of vulnerable daredevil Tate. I also liked how he interacted with the Morrigan – simultaneously tender and afraid.
I was always uneasy about Mackie’s parents: Was their love for their replacement son sincere? What did they hide? But I was kind of envious because of Mackie’s sister Emma and his best friend Roswell, who both loved Mackie so unconditionally and unwaveringly and chased away his fear of being an intruder within the human world and their lives. Brenna Yovanoff has a true talent of showing her readers love in all possible shapes – even that between antagonized celtic goddesses.

It's true, the world-building gets never fully explained. But if one reads the novel vigilantly, it becomes pretty clear that a complete understanding is not intended: “The Lady” illustrates at one point how her people has always been defined by the imagination, the superstitions and the limitations of the humans whose sacrifices, attention, admiration or fear keep them alive. They are what we imagine them to be. They are repelled by what we imagine them to be intolerant of. And that changes with our culture. Interesting, isn’t it?

This book is very good, Brenna. I like it and its ending as it is. It does not need a sequel!