A while ago, Christa forwarded me a tweet from an author who was looking for a Romani sensitivity reader. The fact that K.C. Lannon was looking for one in the first place impressed me: while sensitivity reading is a growing field, I’ve never heard of someone using one for characters of Roma descent, and most of the books I’ve read which feature members of the travelling community have been starkly stereotypical (the obvious exception being Miriam Wakerly’s excellent novels).
I got in touch with K.C. Lannon and she sent me her manuscript, The Changeling’s Fortune. I sensitivity read it, which was pretty easy because Lannon had done her research beforehand, so whilst I made a few suggestions it wasn’t like so many of the wildly unaccurate representations I’ve read in the past. The book will be coming out shortly, so I thought I’d do a quick review of it on here.
Set in Neo-London in a post-apocalyptic future, The Changeling’s Fortune is a YA urban fantasy series focusing on the stories of Deirdre, an orphan who grew up in a children’s home, and James, a young Romani boy who’s desperate to find his mother.
When James and Deirdre’s paths cross, the two of them are immediately drawn to one another. James, sensitive and quiet but with a steely determination beneath his shyness, finds himself intrigued by Deirdre, whose passionate optimism is simultaneously endearing and a bit tiring. Ever since his mother left years ago without a proper explanation, James has been hoping to find her one day. His brother Iain always said they’d do it together when James was old enough, but now he’s a teenager and Iain’s joined the Iron Guard, beginning a military career which follows in his father’s footsteps. Iain is no longer interested in pursuing their mother’s disappearance, so James decides to set out alone.
Deirdre, of course, ends up going with him. When she first arrives in Neo-London she’s struck by its cultural diversity, but she quickly comes to see that the local faeries are the victims of harsh discrimination. Tall iron fences keep them sequestered in a small corner of the city, into which humans aren’t encouraged to venture. But something about the faeries intrigues Deirdre, and while she’s following through on her interest she catches the attention of local law enforcement officers. Soon things spiral out of control, and when Deirdre is framed for a serious crime, she knows she has no choice but to run. So she ends up setting off across the country with James in search of the last place his mother was seen.
This was a really fun book to read, which was good because I read it three times during the sensitivity reading process. The story was gripping and the characters were interesting: Deirdre reminded me of myself as a child – curious and with a penchant for doing something about injustice. James, the quiet scholar who’d rather sit at home and read books but has enough steely determination to make himself walk across the country, was also very relatable.
If you like Holly Black or Melissa Marr, you’ll love K.C. Lannon: her books provide the same kind of gritty urban fantasy escapism. The Changeling’s Fortune is the first in a seven-book series, so you’ll be treated to the adventures of James and Deirdre again and again. I for one am looking forward to the next instalment.