There is always a special place in life for the books that surprise you, taking you somewhere utterly different to where you had assumed you were going. The Changeling by Victor Lavalle is one such novel and in my mind, it’s a masterpiece, which is not a term I use lightly. This novel languished on my shelf for a couple of months before I read it and for the first few days I really did struggle to fully engage with the story, but I sensed that it had something beyond the normal, a kernel or mystique that was just enough to keep me going.
Lavalle has a style all of his own and it’s wonderful, but it’s his mind that you really want to climb inside and explore. How on earth do you think up a tale like this? Part crime, part fairytale. Plausible whilst being utterly implausible and all the while, so beautifully written. This is gorgeous, mystical literature and I absolutely adored it.
The story begins in quite a traditional way, with Apollo meeting Emma and falling in love. The two marry and have a baby, named after the father who abandoned Apollo as a child. So far so good, that is until Emma commits a terrible crime with incredible consequences. To say anything beyond this would be to spoil the story, but for me thereafter the book read like a dream and was totally captivating.
When I finished this book, I immediately emailed three friends to see if they had read it. None of them had. I started to try to explain it to The Husband, but realized quickly that his facial expression was the same one deployed when I try to narrate a dream to him and just as with a dream, the book made perfect sense whilst I was reading it, but when you begin to tell it to someone else, it sounds confused and well frankly, a little ridiculous, too complex and surreal to comprehend.
So much of modern fiction depends on plausibility and this story really doesn’t have it and yet it works. It’s fantastic in the truest sense of the word, taking you out of this world, whilst leaving you very much in it. If you are wanting to read something different and unusual over the coming months, then this is it, but be warned you are going to sound like a madman if you try to talk about it to someone else!