Today’s blog post is about Philippa Gregory’s first novel in her Order of Darkness series entitled Changeling.
This book is a historical novel set in the 14th century in Italy. It begins with Luca, a young man in a monastery summoned to meet some very secretive lord. This lord is the head of the Order of Darkness which seeks to battle evil forces when the world is supposed to end. The Order of Darkness is in the service of the papacy. Luca has been chosen because he has a certain facility with numbers and a very logical and rational mind which will help to discern true from false evil occurrences.
While Luca is set on his mission to investigate “supernatural” activities, Isolde’s future collaspes when her father dies. She was supposed to inherit the castle she grew up in while her brother was to be sent to their family’s estate in France (I think?). Yet, when her brother shows Isolde their father’s will, she must either marry one of her brother’s friends (who’s absolutely awful) or go to a nunnery and be its abbess. Isolde chooses, to her dismay, the latter option.
Needless to say that Luca and Isolde will cross paths. Something strange is happening to the nuns in Isolde’s abbey and Luca is sent to investigate. When that investigation is concluded, they travel together to another of Luca’s missions.
The setting is well-set and the characters are ok although the story is a bit childish. For once, Gregory did not recount the story of real historical people but chose to invent her characters, although the setting and the “atmosphere” are historically accurate, to my knowledge (I know more about 16th-century England than 14th-century Italy). I would definitely classify this novel as a middle-grade historical novel. I still enjoyed it but I thought it lacked the panache of her other historical novels such as The Constant Princess or The Boleyn Inheritance in which women really get into the action and act out. In Changeling, I though Isolde quite unnerving by her passivity. Alhtough her compagnion Ishraq is a true badass.
I rated this novel 3*/5.
What about you? Do you enjoy reading historical fiction? And if so, do you prefer when the characters really existed or when they’re fictional but interact with historical figures? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.