(2005) McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Corgi Books pbk, 333 pp, £6.99 ISBN 978-0-552-1-5440-6
Changelings is the first book of a new series, and this is the 2007 UK paperback edition. It is based on the planet of Petaybee, and the main two characters are twins Ronan and Murel. The twins are unusual to say the least and take after their father with the amazing ability to change into seals when immersed in water. They can also telepathically communicate with each other and the animals around them. The book covers their early childhood with great detail, and for the first three chapters they are young babies and the authors are prone to describing their surrounds and the people around them at some length. Fortunately once the extravagant introduction is complete the plot begins to take shape and the dangers that will eventually affect their lives becomes increasingly apparent.
The planet itself is also pivotal to the plot as it is evolving at an un-natural speed and has the skill to assist its inhabitants when in danger and provide for them in a most unusual manner.
By chapter 5, the writers have found their feet and introduce a loveable otter, who becomes the children's assistant and friend. He introduces them to a host of other river and sea life, but it is their friendship that causes them to expose their secret to a visiting scientist. The twins parents decide to avoid them being taken away for research by hiding them off planet.
Although the book seemed slow to start, it was an enjoyable read and I was quickly tempted to start on the second novel in the series, Maelstrom. The writing has a feminine feel to it, with beautiful descriptions of wildlife, countryside and people. The book reflects influences of various cultures, especially Hawaiian. There is an environmental awareness that is unlike any other science fiction I have ever read, and will appeal to readers with a social conscience, or a love of animals. However it lacks the hard-core grittiness that may appeal to certain readers. This book is not for those who want books filled with guns, danger and pain. Changelings has these, but no viciousness, no pure evil, no torrid sex scenes and I would be comfortable allowing a younger reader (11+) to read it.
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