Changeling by Matt Wesolowski @ConcreteKraken #BookReview #BlogTour

On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the dark Wentshire Forest Pass, when his father, Sorrel, stopped the car to investigate a mysterious knocking sound. 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 and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. Journeying 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 what happened to the little boy...

I'm delighted to be hosting the blog tour for Changeling by Matt Wesolowski today, alongside the lovely Ronnie Turner. Many thanks to the author, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

I've been looking forward to reading Changeling after thoroughly enjoying Matt Wesolowski's debut, Six Stories and the follow-up novel (which was actually a prequel), Hydra. For anybody not yet familiar with this series, it follows investigative journalist, Scott King with books written as if they are episodes from his hugely successful Six Stories podcast where he examines cold cases over the course of six episodes. In Changeling, he is reluctantly looking at the tragic case of Alfie Marsden, a seven-year-old boy who vanished without a trace in 1988. What follows is a disturbing, often upsetting and totally gripping mystery which had me glued to the pages.
As well as the podcasts where Scott speaks to various people he hopes may be able to shine a little light on events leading up to Alfie's disappearance, there are also transcripts from audio recordings he makes where he talks about his meetings with the person who wrote him a letter he couldn't ignore. Unlike his previous Six Stories cases, he wasn't initially comfortable looking into the mystery surrounding Alfie, feeling it was better to leave well alone; when he receives a letter saying from a stranger suggesting they have fresh information about the case, he is irresistibly drawn to finding out more. These recordings are a fascinating insight into the character and as the book progresses feel as though this is a man whose soul is being laid bare before us. This seems to be a much more vulnerable Scott King than in previous books and although Changeling can easily be read as a standalone, I'm glad I'd read the first two in the series which helped inform my perception of how he has been changed by his past experiences.
Changeling is a deeply unsettling book with a strong folkloric feel as King looks into the seemingly inexplicable stories - both historical and more recent - surrounding Wentshire Forest. One of my favourite things about the novel is that it doesn't explain everything and leaves some occurrences to the reader's imagination. This is no fairytale, however, and the descriptions of the strange goings-on in the forest are decidedly creepy. If I'd heard any knocking while reading Changeling, I think I would have jumped out of my skin!
Not all horror comes from the supernatural, however. There is evil in Changeling and as more of the truth is exposed, Scott discovers that not everyone is who they seem. The podcast format of the book is intriguing as the different points of view and memories of each witness reminds us that even the most honest people can prove to be unconsciously unreliable, conditioned as they are by their own relationships and experiences. I must admit to working out some of the plot before the end of the book but it didn't affect my enjoyment of the novel in the slightest. On the contrary, I was invested in the storyline and curious to see how everything would eventually pan out. There were still some revelations which surprised me but it was the poignant, thought-provoking scenes that I thought were particularly affecting.
Changeling is a dark, emotional and honest book and to my mind, the best Six Stories yet. I can't wait to see where Matt Wesolowski will take Scott King next.

Changeling is published by Orenda Books and is available now as an ebook or in paperback from 24th January 2019; purchasing links can be found here.

Don't miss the other stops on the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick, and TV rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller. 


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