By Matt Wesolowski
Published by Orenda Books (Ebook - 15 November 2018; Paperback - 15 January 2019)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher
On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.
Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel, his son and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. He takes a journey through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there. He talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know where Alfie is…
A missing child, a grieving father, a neglectful alcoholic mother, things that go tap tap tap in the night, local folklore, creepy forests... Plus gripping writing, authentic dialogue, heart-pounding tension and a final twist that I seriously didn’t see coming!
Yes, as you may have guessed, I loved Changeling.
I read this book in around 2.5 hours, unable to tear myself away. Pretty impressive, considering I was going through a major reading slump at the time, unable to find a book to maintain my concentration. It takes a lot for a book to 'scare' me so I don't have a problem reading these books alone at night, when everyone else has gone to bed. But Changeling is very very unsettling, and I found myself gripping the pages tightly as I read - and then jumped when a door banged somewhere in the house.
Changeling explores of the case of seven-year-old Alfie Marsden, who went missing in a forest in 1988, after slipping out, or being taken from, the car while his father investigated a strange tapping sound. The young boy hasn't been seen since, dead or alive.
Changeling is definitely my favourite of the three Six Stories books so far. I'm not sure if that’s down to the emotional subject matter, chilling storyline or overall creepiness of the prose. All three books feel very real, from the array of believable characters to the atmospheric settings. In fact, part of me is convinced that these are genuine cases and genuine podcasts and that Matt Wesolowski has a secret life as a crime podcaster (which means he IS his character).
To explain, if you haven't read a Six Stories book before, all three of the books are written in a unique format - six podcasts hosted by elusive online journalist Scott King who is exploring cold cases. The podcasts are all very dark, highly thought-provoking and intriguing, as each new character reveals snippets of information about the case, building the tension, intensifying the suspense and layering the mystery at the heart of the story.
You could easily read Changeling as a stand-alone. But I would recommend reading all three books anyway. They’re all brilliant, very different despite following the same format and prove that Matt Weselowski is one of the best emerging horror/crime writers in the present day.
Bring on the next one! (I hope there is a next one...)