- Changeling (Six Stories #3).
- Matt Wesolowski.
- 271 pages.
- Crime / Thriller /Mystery / Horror.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. 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, his son and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. He takes a journey 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 where Alfie is…
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Sometimes with a book you just know within the first few pages that you are in for an exceptional read and Changeling is one such book. In short, I fucking loved this book and I fucking love this series! The Six Stories series deserves to be read, Changeling deserves to be a hit and Wesolowski deserves to be a huge name.
The first Six Stories was a fantastic debut and a deliciously dark tale. The second, Hydra was even better, far darker, it ramped up the sinister scale and was an all-around more complete book. Now, with the third, Changeling, simply put, it is phenomenal and with it, Wesolowski has created one hell of a fiendish book.
I will mention that even though Changeling is the third Six Stories book it can easily be read as a standalone. Each Six Stories book acts as a separate entity, a complete Six Stories podcast series and an individual story. Admittedly, a couple of things that have happened to Scott King due to the Six Stories podcast are alluded to and mentioned but it is only in minor passing. Yes, if you’ve read the previous two books then you will get the references but without that knowledge, it won’t hinder your enjoyment of Changeling at all and enjoy Changeling you most assuredly will.
Six Stories is the renowned podcast series hosted by Scott King. The premise is simple, six episodes, six people, six stories that are all tied to and that all relate to a cold case that King has chosen to investigate.
The case that King is looking at in Changeling is that of Alfie Marsden. Thirty years ago Seven-year-old Alfie tragically vanished from his Dad’s car on December 24th, 1988, Christmas Eve and was officially declared ‘presumed dead‘ in 1995. It was late at night and Alfie was asleep in the car when his Dad pulled over at the Wentshire Forest Pass opposite Great Escapes, a building development site. His Dad stopped driving due to hearing a knocking coming from the engine of the car. Subsequently, his Dad got out to investigate, looking under the bonnet for the source of the noise. Only a matter of minutes passed but on his return, Alfie wasn’t there, he was just gone, the car door was now open, his seat empty and of little Alfie, there was no trace, it was as if without a sound he had vanished into thin air.
Alfie’s disappearance is an ideal case for the Six Stories podcast but King has previously been reluctant to investigate it and is still reticent about it now. It is the case of a missing child, a soul lost to time, a life that has been taken before it had the chance to start and perhaps, it is respectful not to disturb that child, to allow him to rest in peace, to leave his memory alone and to let him sleep. But, a letter promising to reveal new and never before seen insights into the case piques King’s interest. And so, despite his reticence King decides to dip his toes into the murky waters of the disappearance of Alfie Marsden.
Over the course of the Six Stories series, we get six different angles, perspectives and stories from Sir Harrison Baxter, one-half of the developers of Baxter and Blackwood’s Great Escapes, the company who, at the time of Alfie’s disappearance were trying to build their latest development in Wentshire Forest. Callum Wright, a labourer on the Great Escapes site at the time of Alfie’s disappearance. Anne, a psychic who upon his disappearance claimed to know what had happened to Alfie. Wendy Morris, a former friend and a former work colleague of Sorrel Marsden. And, finally, the stories of Sonia Lewis and Sorrel Marsden, Alfie’s parents.
To go along with those six individual stories King’s research into the case includes snippets from various other sources. Giving additional insights, more information and also peeling back the layers of those involved in the case whilst adding extra detail to the story.
Changeling isn’t just a look at the night that Alfie Marsden disappeared. No, it is so much more. It is a look at the location of Alfie’s disappearance, Wentshire Forest, a place that is known for its folklore and links to the hidden people/fairies the supernatural. It is a look at the life of Alfie, the lives of Alfie’s parents, their relationship, their pasts and their personalities. It is a look at everything that came before, everything that built towards and everything that transpired culminating in what took place on that fateful night.
You know that there are secrets, lies and shocking revelations (yes, holy shit moments are included) to be revealed during the course of the series of interviews. The pleasure is in joining King. Diving in right alongside him and watching it all unfold through each individual account and recollection. Delving deeper into the mystery, searching for the truth and putting together the pieces of the puzzle as the full picture begins to take shape.
Sometimes it’s not what is written but what isn’t written. What is implied and what the author leaves open for you to draw your own opinions from that will needle and nettle away at you. Creeping into your mind, reading between the lines and making you think on the unwritten words and what they could mean. You will find yourself comparing, questioning and thoughts will be rolling around in your mind as you compare the stories of those involved.
Changeling has a compelling narrative that eddies and flows like a river and you will find yourself carried along on the current by Wesolowski’s hypnotic writing. There’s a palpable sense of tension keeping you company that is tied together by a captivating yet tragic mystery and a haunting truth.
It’s the power of the writer to fully transport you into their work and with Changeling you find yourself forgetting that you are reading a book and a story involving fictional characters. Wesolowski’s creation feels real. The tragic disappearance of Alfie Marsden that haunts the pages doesn’t come across as a story but a real tragedy that could have happened. His characters for all intents and purposes are real and you genuinely feel like you are reading real-life accounts from real people.
There’s a disquiet, an unease that runs throughout Changeling suffusing the story that Wesolowksi is telling and imbuing it with an unsettling sense of darkness.
Changeling is a chilling read, a sinister story and the best Six Stories yet.
Pre-order Changeling (Six Stories #3) released in ebook on November 15th, 2018 and in paperback on January 15th, 2019.
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