I'm delighted to have been invited along on the blog tour for the latest in the Six Stories series by Matt Wesolowski and in my opinion even better than it's predecessors, Six Stories and Hydra.
Being near the tail end of the blog tour, I've had to exercise a higher than usual amount of self-discipline and resist reading too many other reviews in case they influenced my review.
I have, however, seen lots of social media posts saying how fabulous this book is and I concur. It is scary and chilling and has a real twist in the tail I didn't see coming, in fact, it swiped me sideways and left me reeling and my ears are still ringing.
It is an emotive read, any book about a child who goes, and remains missing is sure to tug at anyone's heartstrings. It is menacing, coercive and really, REALLY, eerie and dark.
Little Alfie Marsden goes missing in the spooky and legend-ridden Wentshire Forest whilst on a journey with his father Sorrel. When Dad stops to check the car engine, Alfie is on the back seat, when he gets back in the car the little lad is no longer there, he has disappeared, leaving no trace and few clues to where he may have gone. That was back in 1988 and despite recurring searches of the forest he has never turned up and back in 1995 Alfie was declared dead. But the mystery remains.
The story fascinates Six Stories podcaster Scott King and he decides it will make a great addition to his podcast which investigates unsolved mysteries by providing insights from 6 witnesses to an event, but he fears he may have bitten off more than he can chew with this mystery as it begins to suck him deeper and ever deeper.
He interviews many different people involved, some of whom tell terrifying tales which have haunted the forest for years and seem to point to frightening occurrences involving the supernatural. Witches, fairies and creatures of the forest have been talked about and spooky events experienced by many and as the stories tumble forth from the interviewees the tension builds, subtly and imperturbably and as I realised my jaw was clenched as I was reading it so does Scott begin to feel he may be getting too close for comfort. As he tries to do the job he does so well and reveal what happened to little Alfie, he uncovers some brutal and terrifying facts as word by word and interview by interview he draws closer to revealing where Alfie really went.
Peopled by possibly unreliable witnesses - a team of builders scared out of their wits, an alcoholic Mum addicted to numbing her pain with alcohol, people who knew Alfie at school, he even interviews the enigmatic and charming Sorrel and we meet many more truly phenomenal characters throughout this very disquieting book.
Changeling took me by the hand and steered me off down an eerie path through the woods, until I was so wound up and involved that a mere tapping noise close by nearly made had me wetting myself! I'm feeling breathless just writing this and recalling the way it made me feel. After all isn't that what every great should do - make you FEEL the story not just read it
Even though I thought I knew where I was being led, I ended up somewhere even more disturbing! The Changeling is a very clever, manipulative, contemporary tale which captivated and enthralled me. It explores some sinister themes and is thoroughly perplexing throughout.
The Blurb and some quotes:
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.
‘Bold, clever and genuinely chilling with a terrific twist that provides an explosive final punch’ Deidre O’Brien, Sunday Mirror
‘A genuine genre-bending debut’ Carla McKay, Daily Mail
‘Impeccably crafted and gripping from start to finish’ Doug Johnstone, The Big Issue
‘With a unique structure, an ingenious plot and so much suspense you can’t put it down, this is the very epitome of a must-read’ Heat
The Changeling is published by the wonderful Orenda Books who provided my copy.
You can order one from Amazon and good book stores.
The Author - Matt Wesolowski
Wesolowski started his writing career in horror and was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at 'Bloody Scotland'; Crime Writing Festival 2015.