I had seen this book buzzing around the blogs just before it was released in the UK and had also seen the US edition with the rather horrific cover of a child's pram with hanging knifes and scissors. Though the UK edition had different cover (a slightly less scary but just as pleasing version with a Mackie Doyle brooding figure) it was still a book I wanted to dive into as soon as I could.
This book tells the story of a town called Gentry from the view point of Mackenzie 'Mackie' Doyle, a teenage boy that isn't 'normal'. He has a normal family, a normal life but he is anything but normal. At first it seems like strange or unexplained quirks because even though the story is from his view point, Mackie doesn't fully understand why he is the way he is or what he fears he may be. With a very Edward Scissorhands meets Donnie Darko vibe this book is dark and frightening at times with a town full of secrets and a boy that has to makes sense of many answers he finds for questions no one is even willing to speak aloud.
I loved the story and it's characters and even the contrasting worlds of the House of Mayhem and Misery lurking in the town of Gentry. The House of Mayhem and the Replacements brought up images of very "ugly beautiful" creatures that oozes out of the Underground worlds and the description reminded me a lot of the art work of Brian Froud; a concept artist best known for his work on the movies Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. His art is based on the beauty and darkness in nature and fantasy worlds from pixies, fairies and goblins and I could just picture his world's to be very much like the one's Brenna Yovanoff has created.
I loved how at times there were moments that were so perfectly described or captured in the writing that I felt I had to pause a moment before reading anymore just to enjoy what I had just read. I don't always get that when reading but there were a few key moments that were like a warm blanket that you wanted to snuggle up with for ages to enjoy the perfection. The characters weren't overbearing for the story and though The Replacement had action, horror, romance and comedy the real story was about relationships and people and not evil demonic spirit beings under an all American town. It revolved around love for family, friends, the place you live in and life itself. Mackie has all the elements of a normal life but he has to learn to love the life he is actually living rather than keep trying to fight for the normal one he wants.
This is a fabulous debut novel and Brenna Yovanoff never forgets to describe all the aspects of the world or the moments from the smells lingering in the air to feel of the wet grass as they lay on the ground. It's little aspects like this attention to detail that really builds a world in a readers mind and I really enjoyed having it there to make Gentry feel real.
Published by Simon and Schuster UK and available from here and all book shops