About The Book
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…
Short version of my review:
Oh. My. God. What did I just read? MATT! 😳😱🙊😕 I have a MAJOR book hangover. Changeling is fab. Read it.
Long version of my review:
I’m not shy about how much I love Matt Wesolowski’s writing, Six Stories and Hydra are both great reads and Changeling, the third book in the Six Stories series is no different. If you’re unfamiliar with the Six Stories series then a brief recap: they are books written in a podcast style and examine a crime or mystery over six instalments. Each podcast/book is hosted by Scott King and he re-opens a case which is either cold or closed and tries to find out what really happened. Changeling examines the disappearance of seven year old Alfie who went missing late one Christmas Eve and hasn’t been seen since. Scott receives a letter from somebody who says they have information about the case and this sets in motion events that are devastating, surprising and chilling.
Alfie’s dad, Sorrel and his mother Sonia are estranged, in fact, Sorrel had removed Alfie from Sonia’s house late on Christmas Eve as she was drunk and he feared for Alfie’s safety. It was on this journey that Alfie went missing after Sorrel stopped the car in Wentshire Forest to investigate a knocking sound from the engine. After checking under the bonnet he found the passenger door open and Alfie nowhere to be seen. 30 years on, Sonia has stayed out of the limelight after finding herself being hounded by the press for her alcoholism whilst Sorrel makes pilgrimages to the site of the disappearance and regularly appeals for Alfie’s safe return, despite him being declared dead 23 years ago.
Wentshire Forest is a place of folklore and legend with mysterious superstitions about the ethereal folk who live there and take children who are in the forest. The podcast uncovers tales of builders who abandoned building a holiday park due to the goings on in the forest and their quite frankly terrifying experiences. This site is now owned by the MoD and is surrounded by a fence to keep trespassers out, adding to the intrigue and fear around this remote spot.
It takes real skill to write a book that is entirely speech and make it readable. It is a wholly authentic narrative yet it manages to create atmosphere and build tension with clever descriptions of people and places. There is a section describing the woods and some of the events which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. In fact, I was reading this part when my husband came into the room and I was so engrossed I had no idea he was there until he spoke to me (my heart rate still hasn’t recovered). It is a terrifying read with suspense and an undercurrent of menace just beneath the surface.
Combined with this is an unsettling tale of manipulative behaviour, mistruths and misdirection. Yes, there are ‘supernatural’ undertones, but far more terrifying is the examination of the depths of human behaviour and power. It is an emotional read and I applaud Matt Wesolowski for his considered and thoughtful writing of a tricky and difficult subject matter. He is unafraid to write in unflinching terms yet it is sensitive and respectful.
Matt Wesolowski just gets better and better. As a reader it is wonderful to see the development of a writer and in Changeling Matt has really hit his stride. It is challenging, dark and beautifully written and doesn’t shy away from examining difficult subject matter. This is emotive and brave writing and shines a light on an incredibly important issue; crime writing at its absolute best.
Now, where do I sign up to the Matt Wesolowski Fan Club?
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.
My thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for an invitation to join the Blog Tour for Changeling. Changeling is out now in ebook and is published in paperback on the 24th January 2019.