Mackie Doyle is the Replacement. Thought he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement – left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world.
Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass guitar or spend time with an oddly intriguing girl called Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place – in our world, or theirs.
I don’t usually like creepy books, but the creep factor in this book really made the story. The story is a little confusing at first, but I felt that was more of draw – you just had to know what was really going on. A dark, gloomy and rainy day would have been a perfect day to read this book. At first I felt sorry for the inhabitants of Gentry, but it didn’t take long that they were part of the problem – in that they just accepted as fact (and perhaps even willing participated) that the town’s dark creatures would take a human baby as tribute and replace it with one of their own. These replacements usually sickened and died rather quickly. They were ill to begin with and the human world is rather toxic to them. Mackie is the exception. Through the love and care of his sister, he lives long enough to make it to high school. Though he’s always known he is “different” he’s tried his best to ignore it until a classmate’s sister (another replacement) dies. Through a series of events he learns that the original human child is still alive (at least until Halloween) and Mackie is faced with keeping the knowledge to himself or try to save her from the dark unnamed.
I loved this book, though I was frustrated that the townspeople chose to ignore what was happening. Supposedly, by allowing the dark fairies (I call them this for lack of better name. They are never actually named in the book,) to take the babies as tribute, the town prospers. Yet I never got the impression that town was in all that good of a shape. This just added to the delightful creepiness of the book.
Mackie is a wonderful character – very well written with great depths. As a member of the “unnamed” one would expect him to be a bad guy, but aside from his allergy to iron and inability to step into the Church or the consecrated ground of the cemetery, he is like any typical moody teen. And he’s a hero, perhaps reluctant. But when it gets down to the wire, he does what needs to be done.
This is a very dark and rather unusual faery story, but quite enjoyable. If you are looking for a good read with a happy ending (granted not a 30 minute sitcom ending), then you should definitely check out this book.