Book review: Changeling by Matt Wesolowski


Title: Changeling

Author: Matt Wesolowski

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Orenda

Publication date: 24th January 2019

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Summary:

On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.
Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel, his son and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. He takes a journey through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there. He talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know where Alfie is…
Intensely dark, deeply chilling and searingly thought provoking, Changeling is an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, taking you to places you will never, ever forget.

My review:

What a ride! This book was so addictive and intense that I often found myself hurtling through the chapters, desperate for a resolution. Not only was the original idea of following the true crime through a series of podcasts alluring and atmospheric but the execution was just as brilliant with precise storytelling and a wildly unexpected plot twist at the end. Looking back, there is not much that can be criticised as the writing techniques used were flawless and the story line provoked a strong sense of urgency to uncover the mysterious circumstances surrounding Alfie’s disappearance.

One of the main aspects which made the book truly stand out for me was the emphasis on the personification of forest and the chilling nature of its contents. We learn through the experience of several interviewees in the podcasts that Wentshire forest has an alarming supernatural essence that many believe could explain Alfie’s disappearance. The research done in paranormal activity here was ingenious and very well inserted into the plot without verging on implausible but rather tempting the reader through a series of events which suggest that perhaps Alfie wasn’t the innocent child we all believe he was.

My personal opinion is that much of this book’s success is attributed to the format which it is written in which allows for the use of first person narrative and therefore a feeling of a closer relationship with the main character during each podcast recording. The storytelling is of the highest quality as each character involved in the podcast series shares their view on Alfie’s disappearance with the reader almost feeling like Scott King’s partner in attempting to solve the crime and discover the truth one recording after another. Although the storyline was captivating, the retelling of the night Alfie went missing through the more personal approach of a podcast created an atmosphere which could not have been produced if the book was written in a standard third person narrative tale and this unique format made for an even more fantastic story.

This book took over my thoughts completely as I was reading it and even the smallest noises made me jump as I read about the tap-tap-tap noises of the forest. A thriller requires a mixture of techniques to captivate and entertain and I firmly believe that Matt Wesolowski successfully managed to use all these right methods. Brave in concept and brilliant in execution, Changeling is a fantastic thriller that I recommend to everyone seeking a unique reading experience.

15 thoughts on “Book review: Changeling by Matt Wesolowski

    1. I can’t think of many others like this one but if you like thrillers then you might enjoy Cara Hunter’s recent book No Way Out or The Night Before by Wendy Walker, both excellent books!

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  1. A brilliant review, Darina!
    I must say I enjoyed the book a great deal, despite being able to uncover the truth about the main characters pretty early in the book. This in no way detracted from enjoying the engaging writing style and the vivid forest description.
    I agree with you – a fantastic read for the lovers of the thriller genre.
    Thank you for sharing and looking forward to more of your recommendations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! That is quite impressive that you managed to guess the truth so early on but I’m glad that it didn’t disappoint and you still managed to enjoy it!

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  2. Okay, I need advice Darina. I love thrillers, but I am also afraid of the dark. Being said, I love Stephen King, though I can’t read all of them. Is this novel more of a Green Mile kind of book or Cujo/Salem’s Lot kind of book.

    I really want to read this one. It sounds amazing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hard to compare it to Stephen King’s books (although I love his books a whole lot too!) but if I had to choose between that selection I’d say Salem’s Lot because there are a lot of creepy moments and the paranormal activity can slowly get to you. I’d still have a go with it though as it’s also very psychological and the mystery of Alfie’s disappearance reminds me more of a psychological thriller than a horror book, it’s just the forest which I found quite scary. It really is amazing so I hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it!

      Liked by 1 person

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