Review: Changeling by William Ritter


changelingChangeling by William Ritter

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: The Oddmire #1

Date Published: July 16th, 2019

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Pages: 272 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Magic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the fateful night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong. After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted from his task. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart. Not knowing which to bring back, he leaves both babies behind.

Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. Then when they are twelve years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic. The boys must leave behind their sleepy town of Endsborough and risk their lives in the Wild Wood, crossing the perilous Oddmire swamp and journeying through the Deep Dark to reach the goblin horde and discover who they truly are.


*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I absolutely loved this novel. It is such a fun and magical read with just the right amount of suspense and creepiness to it. At its’ core, it is a beautiful story of love, belonging, and the true meaning of family. It shows the bravery and strength one can find in themselves when protecting the ones they love. On top of being an action-packed adventure, this story is also full of heart and positive messages. Changeling is a fast-paced and fantastical journey. I was hooked from page one and I never wanted it to end.

In this novel, we follow two young brothers, Tinn and Cole. By looking at them, they appear to be human twins—however, one of them is actually a changeling. When a goblin named Kull’s plan to switch the human baby for the goblin one goes wrong, they are both left behind. For years, their mother Annie raises the boys as brothers despite the unusual circumstances. They live as a normal family, though the boys have always wondered what they are deep down. When, at twelve years old, Tinn and Cole receive a mysterious message telling the changeling they must return to the Wild Wood and save the dying magic, they set off on a dangerous adventure to cross the Oddmire swamp and find the goblin horde.

The unique and colorful cast of characters is the driving force of this narrative. Each one has a distinct and memorable personality that adds depth and dimension to the world as a whole. Tinn and Cole are such loveable characters with a beautiful relationship—they are truly the definition of brothers. They both have very individual personalities that mesh together really well. Annie is a remarkable mother who loves the two boys equally and thinks of them as her own no matter what. She is such a strong and brave character, risking everything to find and protect them once they have run off on their journey. Ritter also packs this novel with imaginative magical beings. It is clear that he has put much time and effort into forming every aspect of the setting and the creatures and weaving those two elements tightly together.

It is incredibly interesting to hear the internal conflicts the boys have about discovering who the changeling is. They both have reasons to believe that they are the changeling due to a part of themselves and their personalities that they are unable to understand or explain. For instance, Cole wonders why he is always so compelled to cause trouble and do things he knows he shouldn’t. On the other hand, they both believe the other deserves to be the human because of what a good person they are. They both want the absolute best for the other, despite their own fears of being the changeling. It shows just how much they love and care about each other.

William Ritter does a wonderful job crafting this novel. His writing flows seamlessly and is incredibly easy to get sucked into and follow. His descriptions are vivid as he builds the unique world and palpable atmosphere of the narrative. The mysterious and treacherous nature of the Wild Wood is shown so well in the way he constructs the environment. From the encroaching trees with their gnarled roots to the mist that permeates the air, the suspense of Tinn and Cole’s journey is drastically enhanced. Ritter consistently blends reality with magic that will spark readers’ imaginations. This is true for every part of the world, making it incredibly multi-dimensional and highly immersive.

This novel fits the middle-grade genre perfectly. It is one of those universally enjoyable novels, offering something that both children and adults alike will love. The messages packed into the story are inspiring and heartwarming—they are great things for a young audience to learn about. The ideas that family can truly be found in others whether they are related to you or not and the importance of taking care of those you love are beautiful and meaningful messages to understand. The darkness in the story never becomes overwhelming and is very suitable for younger readers. Overall, this was a charming read. I cannot wait to see more from this series.

5.0 TARDISes

Author Bio:

Ritter,_Will_HR (c) Katrina SantoroWilliam Ritter is an Oregon author and educator. He is the proud father of the two bravest boys in the Wild Wood, and husband to the indomitable Queen of the Deep Dark. The Oddmire is Ritter’s first series for middle-grade readers. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling, award-winning Jackaby series for young adult readers. Visit him online at and find him on Twitter: @Willothewords. 


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Top 5 Wednesday – December 30th, 2015


Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at Gingerreadslainey. Every week, book reviewers all over the world are given a bookish topic and respond with their top 5 books (or elements of books) that relate to that topic. Click here for the Goodreads group if you would like to learn more about Top 5 Wednesday and join in!

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is your top 5 favorite books that you read this year. While I didn’t read nearly as many books as I had hoped that I would, this year was pretty fantastic in terms of quality of books read. It was difficult to narrow this list down to just five, but there were definitely a few novels that particularly stuck out this year. These have not only become some of my top favorite novels of all time, but all of these authors were new to me and are now on my favorite authors list as well!

5. Jackaby by William Ritter

jackabyThis was pitched as “Doctor Who meets Sherlock”, so of course I had to read this immediately—and thankfully, it did not disappoint!

Click here to check out my full review!

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

cinderThis was my first read of 2015 and an absolutely brilliant way to start off my reading for the year.

Click here to check out my full review!

3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

gonegirlThis was my first Gillian Flynn book, and by far one of the most intriguing and captivating novels that I read all year.

Click here to check out my full review!

2. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

thememoirsofsherlockholmesThis is my first time making my way through this series and I am kicking myself for having put these novels off for so long—they are fantastic!

Click here to check out my full review!

1. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

viciousThis was my most recent read and my last completed book of the year—and it was definitely my favorite of them all!

Review coming soon!


Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

jackabyJackaby by William Ritter

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Jackaby #1

Date Published: September 16th, 2014

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Pages: 299 pages

Source: Purchased

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: “Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion–and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.


This is a spoiler-free review.

Between the intriguing synopsis and the beautiful cover art, this novel caught my eye right away. I was very eager to dive into it, and it did not disappoint. Jackaby is an incredibly entertaining and hilarious ride that captivated me right from the start and held me until the final page. This book is pitched as being “Doctor Who meets Sherlock” and it quite is reminiscent of both while never feeling copycat. Ritter uses general, well-loved aspects of these two stories to build his own, truly unique and cleverly written tale.

The story focuses on an eccentric detective named Jackaby, and is told from the point of view of his bright, young assistant, Abigail Rook. Abigail has run away from her family and, having just arrived in America, is looking for work. Answering his advertisement, she finds herself working for the highly intelligent and incredibly eccentric Jackaby, and subsequently is plunged into the world of crime. These are not simply ordinary crimes however, but crimes committed by supernatural beings that most people, herself included, cannot see.

Jackaby is an unusual sort of detective, and a very peculiar character. I found him to be very much a mixture of Sherlock Holmes and the Eleventh Doctor. He has the intellect and the unbelievably acute powers of observation that Arthur Conan Doyle’s great detective has, mixed with the quirky nature of the beloved time traveling hero. Jackaby works as a detective, like Holmes, but in the world of the supernatural, like the Doctor. He resembles each person in different ways, which, when put together, adds up to a very singular character.

I thought Abigail was sort of a John Watson, Clara Oswald hybrid. She is a highly intelligent person herself, as well as a strong female lead who holds her own alongside the detective. The fact that Abigail is the narrator of the story, recounting her experiences with Jackaby, gives it the same quality of the original Sherlock Holmes novels. She is also the person who deals with the more human aspects of the cases, something with which Jackaby tends to struggle on his own. Overall, she is a clever, brave, and spunky character, and makes up the second half of a marvelous pairing.

While the two of them had qualities that reminded me of these other characters, they still felt like purely original creations. Ritter constructs them in a way where he uses familiar qualities audiences have come to love as a template to form entirely new people with distinct personas.

For the most part, I found the writing in this novel to be spot on. Ritter does a wonderful job of evoking a dark yet humorous tone and building the 19th century New England town in which the novel is set. The dialogue is sharp, witty, at times sarcastic, and appropriately fast-paced. All of the characters, both human and supernatural, in this novel are very compelling, meticulously created, and skillfully portrayed. Ritter invents two fully developed and vibrant worlds. One is realistic and one is much more mystical and filled with vividly depicted creatures, and they both intertwine fluidly.

The plot itself was a relatively typical murder mystery, made complex with its elements of fantasy and science fiction. I will admit, I did figure out who the culprit was well before the end of the novel, however, this did not detract at all from my enjoyment of it. And there were still a satisfying amount of twists and surprises in other aspects of the story, such as the fantastical elements, that caused enough of a feeling of wonder to create an engrossing narrative.

This novel is by no means perfect, and I definitely believe that it is sort of a hit or miss type of story. But it is such an incredibly fun tale and personally, I couldn’t help but love every minute of reading it. I adored being in this world, particularly Jackaby’s world of bizarre creatures. Ritter draws inspiration from some very widely loved characters and uses this to create new and equally lovable ones. He retains a solid amount of individuality while conjuring up the same feelings that these other timeless tales do for their admirers. For me, this truly was an enchanting read. I am looking forward to seeing how this series progresses in the future books.

I very highly recommend giving this book a try. And remember: “DO NOT STARE AT THE FROG!”

4.5 TARDISes