When The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff first came out, it looked far too weird for me. Just take a look at the cover, know that I run from all things horror-esque, and you’ll see what I mean! But I kept reading reviews that started something like, “At first I thought this book would be creepier than I like, but…,” and then Hannah suggested it to me directly when I was looking for audiobooks to try. So, I gave in and listened to The Replacement on audio.
About the Book:
Mackie Doyle isn’t normal. He can’t enter the consecrated ground in the town cemetery. Metal causes him excruciating pain. And then there’s the story his older sister Emma has told him, about the night years ago when the real Mackie was, well, replaced.
Mackie’s hometown of Gentry isn’t normal, either. Strange things happen there that no one talks about. Every few years, a child suddenly changes drastically and dies shortly after. It’s just part of Gentry. Everyone turns a blind eye.
Mackie spends his teenage days keeping a low profile and trying to fit in at school. But there comes a point when Mackie begins to wonder who — or what — he really is. As he digs up the secrets the town has kept buried, Mackie begins to uncover a truth that is neither black nor white but something different altogether.
I’m not going to lie and say The Replacement wasn’t creepy. In fact, it sneaked up and toed the line of my own creepiness threshold pretty regularly. The whole novel had a Tim Burton feel to it, and if they ever do a movie adaptation, I hope he directs it. I found myself imagining many scenes as something out of his weirder movies.
But what kept me going was that underneath the layer of bizarrity (new word) was a warm, fuzzy sort of truth of the very best kind that made the ghastly creatures and events less horrifying. As I listened to Mackie navigate between the two worlds — worlds he was simultaneously part of and apart from — I started to get the feeling that who he was was more than where he had come from and what he was made of. For being such a strange, dark book, The Replacement has a pretty nice message tucked into its deepest corners.
The Replacement is populated by all sorts of characters. Luckily, there were some I really loved. Mackie himself comes across as a nice and well-meaning guy who is trying to solve a riddle much bigger than himself. His best friend, Roswell, is delightfully easygoing, the sort who stands by a friend come hell or high water. And my favorite was Emma, Mackie’s sister, whose fierce love for her brother never wavers. The realness of those three made up for the weird other-worldliness of some of the others.
The audiobook is read by Kevin T. Collins. His inflection is just a hair off somehow, but in a way that makes his narration unique. Since Mackie himself is just slightly off, the match was perfect. I couldn’t tell if whatever Collins was doing was intentional, but it went away when he was speaking for other characters, so perhaps it was his own take on Mackie. My only problem was with one gory part, when I almost had to stop listening because it was getting a bit gross. But my squeamishness certainly isn’t the narrator’s fault! If you’ve been meaning to give The Replacement a try, I would absolutely recommend the audiobook.