So though he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie's real home is the fey world of tunnels and black, murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. Now, because his fey blood gives him fatal allergies to iron, blood and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world. Mackie would give anything just to be normal, to live quietly amongst humans, practice his bass guitar and spend time with his crush, Tate.
But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably back home to the fey underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem, where he must face down the dark creatures, rescue the child, and find his rightful place - in our world, or theirs.
Telling the story from Mackie's point of view is inspired. He is a no-fuss kind of guy but he's deeply unhappy about the state he finds himself in. He's been feeling ill for some time and it's sort of an open secret that he's not entirely normal but, having said that, his father especially urges him to act normal at all times, to not draw the attention of others within their small community of Gentry.
The only person outside of the Doyle family who knows things aren't 100% as they seem, is Mackie's best friend Roswell. And Roswell is indeed a good friend to Mackie - always by his side, loyal and honourable, he stands by his mate, even if his mate turns out to be something "other".
Mackie's story is one of self-doubt, denial, anger, frustration and longing. He wants to be normal but nothing about him is normal. Not his skin, his hair, his eyes, his health. He's busy dying living in the human world and yet he's stubborn and determined to not give in to his heritage. Even if it kills him. It's only when Tate's baby sister "dies" and she turns to him for help that he realises that being selfish is not the way forward.
He accepts the invitation to enter Mayhem and to meet those who live there. Key here is the Morrigan, once a powerful goddess of war, she now reverts to a playful form of a small child yet her rule in Mayhem is absolute. She's had a falling out with her sister who is known as The Lady and it is The Lady who has been the culprit of various disappearances and accidents for many years in Gentry. The animosity between the sisters has led to a variety of grudges and as Mackie traverses this dark world, he comes to realise that his own disappearance is key to this all and that his story goes back much further than he thought.
The Replacement is such a great read - it may not be for everyone as it is not a very happy (fairy) book but it is very real in the sense that everything has a push-pull consequence. At its heart it is a story about transformation and friendship and the depths of love people can have for each other - and I'm not just talking true love for a girlfriend or boyfriend either. It is about family and loyalty and finding ones place in society.
I'll admit to being cautious about jumping on The Replacement bandwagon as I am loathe to be yet another voice in a crowd saying how great a novel is upon its release but honestly, this one surprised me and I'm glad I gave in to my gut feeling and read it. It is a great addition to my bookshelves and one I know I'll be rereading in the months to come.
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff is out in the UK from Simon & Schuster on 6th January 2011 and should be available online as well as all good book shops.