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Review: The Changeover by Margaret Mahy

The Changeover

Margaret Mahy

‘A clammy hand pressed Laura down onto her knees beside Jacko’s bed. It was the hand of terror, nothing less.’ It was a warning. Laura felt it when she looked in the mirror that morning. There had been others: the day her father left home, the day she met Sorensen – the boy with the strange silver eyes….more

My Rating:

Laura Chant has subtle gifts, visions that warn her of things to come, and she has taken to listening to those ‘feelings’. But even as she tries to stop the bad feeling from coming to fruition, she finds her little brother falling into the clutches of a terrible presence in The Changeover by Margaret Mahy.

Written in 1984, and set in New Zealand, the author’s hometown, this young adult novel might be in the unfortunate circumstance of being unapproachable to current readers. This is thankfully not the case. There is a timelessness to this dark but touching novel, in which a young woman finds herself approaching the unapproachable Sorenson Carlisle, a boy she knows is different and the only one who will believe her story; something is sucking the life from her little brother. Sorenson, also known as Sorry, is otherworldly, but this teen romance doesn’t fall into the typical dark, brooding but alluring cliché that others have since exhausted.

Mahy keeps everyone and everything far more unique and intriguing than all that. She paints the growing crush and allure into the background, because there is far more at stake for Laura than a silly boy. The truth is, this book is more about a young girl taking command of her powers, and it’s all the more admirable for it. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few teasing scenes and saucy bits. It hits all the marks as being relatable, realistic and romantic all at once.

The Changeover may have been written decades ago, but the story couldn’t be any more modern and poignant for today’s audience.

The Movie:

A little something extra, I’ve also included a review of the movie. it’s so worth watching even if you haven’t read the book, and neither one deters from the other.

The Changeover, directed by Miranda Harcourt and Stuart McKenzie, excels in its adaptation of the 1984 book by the same name, written by Margaret Mahy. Newcomer, Erana James, delivers an excellent performance of Lauran Chant. She is heartfelt and pure emotion, and she helps deliver this adaptation in the condensed 95-minute run time.

Though the movie may be lacking in some areas, specifically in regards to the Carlisle family; their ethereal oddness is well showcased and amplified for their short screen time. This could leave a bit of an empty, or unfinished feeling once the movie is done. The tone of the film is quirky and mystic from the onset. This immediately registers to the audience as a movie that will have the supernatural, which helps it over the rocky patches of missing backstory and slim explanation. Overall, the movie feels like an incredibly real dream, but with surrealism so perfectly sprinkled throughout that the thinner parts are easy to look past.

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