Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Paperback (ARC)
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Summary (from Goodreads): Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl
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.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
My Summary: After the death of her loving father, Isolde's world is turned upside-down: according to her elder brother, instead of leaving her the lands and the home she grew up in, her father decreed on his deathbed that she would be married or sent to the nunnery. Heartbroken, grieving, and with no other options, Isolde sets out for the nunnery with her childhood friend Ishraq.
A few months later, Luca Vero - a brother accused of heresy for questioning the authenticity of an ancient artifact - is sent by the Pope to investigate that very same nunnery. When he arrives, he discovers a shocking truth: every since the arrival of Isolde and her companion, the nuns have been experiencing horrible visions... and some have even received gruesome marks on their bodies. Something is not right, and it's Luca's job to find out what's going on.
Now, armed with nothing but his orders from the Order of the Dragon, Luca must find whoever is responsible for the strange events occurring inside the holy place - even if it means arresting the mysterious girl who is so much more than she appears to be.
My Thoughts: First off, I'd like to say a big thank-you to everyone at Simon & Schuster for allowing me to read and review an ARC from one of my favourite authors of all time. Thank you so much for the opportunity! I've been a huge fan of Philippa Gregory's for years, and I swear I shamelessly let out a little fan-girl shriek when I opened up Changeling.
Changeling was an amazing read that encompassed all of my favourite genres: romance, historical fiction, and even a little bit of paranormal. I adored every minute of it - and that is not an exaggeration. The characters were so well-written and deep that I felt like I knew them personally. I admired Isolde's spirit and Luca's refusal to believe something just because he was told he had to. The supporting characters were awesome as well and added another layer to the story - Freize was definitely one of my favourites.
Gregory did an amazing job weaving this story together - there's no doubt in my mind that she's one of the master storytellers of our time. Her descriptions of Italy during the 15th century effortlessly pulled me in, painting an amazingly clear picture of Luca and Isolde's world in my mind. She also managed to create some of the best character chemistry I've ever read - I can't wait to see where she takes it in the next installment of the series.
Final Thoughts: I definitely (bold, underline, italics, whatever else I can do to that world to emphasize how much I mean it) recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, romance, paranormal YA, and anyone who is a fan of Philippa Gregory's work.