The year is 1453 and all signs point to it being the end of the world.
Accused of heresy and expelled from his monastery, handsome seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is recruited by a mysterious stranger to record the end of times across Europe. Commanded by sealed orders, Luca is sent to map the fears of Christendom, and travel to the very frontier of good and evil.
Seventeen-year-old Isolde, a Lady Abbess, is trapped in a nunnery to prevent her claiming her rich inheritance. As the nuns in her care are driven mad by strange visions, walking in their sleep, and showing bleeding wounds, Luca is sent to investigate and all the evidence points to Isolade's criminal guilt. Outside in the yard they are building a pyre to burn her for witchcraft.
Forced to face the greatest fears of the medieval world - dark magic, werewolves, madness - Luca and Isolde embark on a search for truth, their own destinies, and even love as they take the unknown ways to the real historical figure who defends the boundaries of Christendom and holds the secrets of the Order of Darkness.
..... inner front cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Castle Sant' Angelo, Rome, June 1453): The hammering on the door shot him into wakefullness like a handgun going off in his face.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 254): There is nothing that brings more people to the church than a witch-burning or an execution.
MY THOUGHTS: I know, I know, I promised myself that I wouldn't begin any books that formed a series BUT this is Philippa Gregory.
Different from most of her novels, for one thing Changeling, the first in the Order Of Darkness series, is aimed at the Young Adult (YA) market, a first for Gregory, and for another it isn't based on any individual(s). And therein may lie the problem as it seems to me this is one author who is at her very best when writing about well-known historical characters.
Hardly off to a good start, the very mention of a handgun in the first sentence kid of made me query the historical accuracy.
Combining the historical and the mysterious with a hint towards the supernatural and reading more like two short stories with the same main characters and a connecting theme as opposed to a novel Changeling just didn't flow for me and, though it pains me to say it, felt quite inferior to Gregory's past endeavours.
As for the characters. Well, lets just leave it that whilst there is potential there is a great deal of room for improvement.
Perhaps a novel I might have been more impressed with if it had been written by another author, its just that this isn't what I've come to expect from this much acclaimed writer who, as most of you know, is one of my all time favourites.
...... Then again, it could just be that I'm not exactly of the age to which the book is aimed.
KEEP IT OR NOT?: Bought with vouchers received at Christmas, this a somewhat reluctant yes in that I have every other book written by this author.