When a child prophet foretells the destruction of his people, five children are given new bodies and new lives.
For as long as she can remember, 21-year-old Sylvie has embraced her role as the priest's obedient daughter. All she wants is to marry her fiance and lead a quiet, normal life. But between droughts, food shortages, and the slow invasion of her desert homeland, even those modest dreams seem out of reach.
Then one sweltering summer day, her best friend Matthew shatters her core identity by revealing a devastating secret. Sylvie is a Changeling: a fantastical creature given human form and switched with the priest's real daughter 17 years ago. And she's not the only one. Four other Changelings remain hidden in the desert--including Matthew himself.
First-time author Rebecca Lang takes us into a war-torn world steeped in political intrigue, shifting alliances, and breath-taking civilizations in the first volume of Matthew’s Prophecy, an exciting new fantasy saga.
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What are Changelings?
Changelings feature in many legends, but the basic tale goes thusly: faeries (or elves or trolls) are attracted by an earthly child's beauty, so they steal it away and replace it with one of their own--a Changeling. Sometimes the Changeling is ugly and deformed, sometimes it's passably human, but usually the parents know they have a false child. They endeavor to get their child back by either beating the Changeling cruelly or playing a trick to get it to reveal its true identity. Once the Changeling exposed, the child is returned.
You can read more in the essay Changelings by Professor D. L. Ashliman.
One of the best novels about Changelings, in my opinion, is The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw. It’s a personal, moving tale about a Changeling’s struggle to fit in with the human world. I read this children’s book in junior high and it stuck in my head for years afterwards, inspiring my novel.
How did you come up with the idea for the novel?
One day, when I was fifteen and on a family vacation in Florida, the image of five children in a misty forest popped in my head. They were Changelings, just given human form, and waiting to be transported to the human world. Once there, they knew they would no longer remember this time in the forest. Though I never wrote down their dialogue, I was inspired enough to sketched an image of their faces.
I found that picture as I was packing for college. Since I was starting my self-made degree in fantasy writing, I needed an idea for a novel and I latched onto this one. I liked the idea of Changelings. But why had they been made? What was their purpose? In answer, I came up with a prophecy--unruly and unpredictable--but ultimately key to saving the world.
What were some of the struggles you faced when writing The Changelings?
When I started writing The Changelings a few days after I turned nineteen, I really didn't know what I was doing. Every time I typed a new paragraph, I'd get pummeled by problems on every side, from world-building to point of view to not knowing where the heck the story was going. The main problem, though, was that I hadn't learned to trust myself. I was full of doubt and frustration.
What got me through the hard times was my main character, Sylvie. She was my rock, which is ironic, because she's the one who grapples the most with losing her identity. Initially, Sylvie thinks she knows who she is, but as she sees more of the world, she's forced to change. New aspects of her personality spring to light, and she's not sure she likes them. I poured a lot of my own emotion into Sylvie's journey, and it helped me figure out what kind of story I wanted to tell.
What message do you have for your audience?
This book is about the struggles of growing up. As a child, you have a vision for what you want your life to be and you expect that if you follow these rules (go to college, get married) it will all work out. But then it turns out, no, there aren't instructions, you have to figure it out yourself.
I want to encourage people to hold fast to their vision. A lot of fantasy books tell you to believe in your dreams, but The Changelings is also about believing in your mistakes. In a world that constantly demands perfection, I wish to say that you can fail and the world can be better for it.