Title: Changeling [sound recording]

Author: Philippa Gregory

Performer: Charlie Cox

ISBN: 9781442350236

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Inc

Copyright Date: 2012

Format: Spoken CD

Plot Summary:

Luca and Isolde, both seventeen years old, have been sworn to the church. Luca was dropped off at a monastery as a young child, while Isolde was given the station of Lady Abbess after the passing of her wealthy father. Luca is sent to investigate strange happenings at Isolde’s abbey. The nuns have been acting bizarrely; plagued by devilish visions, bouts of sleep walking, and strange bleeding markings. Luca is at first suspicious of the new Lady Abbess. Reports state that the strange occurrences starting happening shortly after her reluctant acceptance of the post. Her Moorish companion, Ishraq, is suspected of aiding her. Raised together since girlhood, Isolde and Ishraq display unusual talents and skills. When a nun turns up dead, it is up to Luca to determine what is truth and what is lies, but that can be difficult when the truth is convoluted with a thick layer of treachery, greed, lust, and betrayal.

Critical Evaluation:

This is a very cleverly written book. Gregory takes historical events and turns them into engaging stories. Much like a magician who always has a secret hidden behind his tricks, Gregory takes a series of events and reveals them to be not at all what they initially seem. Her setting and time period are perfect, as this is historically a time when superstitions and fears of witchcraft reigned supreme. Gregory essentially fits two short stories in one. Each of the two situations is unique, but both capitalize on mass hysteria and accusations of evil. In both cases, it is proven that these accusations are unfounded, and the main character Luca dispenses justice with a fair hand.

Isolde is a strong female character, and her path is aligned with Luca’s. Although there are clear gender barriers, she and her slave are incredibly modern with their way of thinking. This creates an interesting tension between the male and female protagonists.

Reader’s Annotation: Someone, or something, is driving the nuns of Lady Isolde’s abbey mad. Luca is dispatched to discover the source of the madness, but he soon discovers that nothing is as it first appears.

About the Author:

“Philippa lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire where she keeps horses, hens and ducks. Visitors to this site,, become addicted to the updates of historical research and the progress of her birds.

Philippa graduated from the University of Sussex with a degree in History, and received a History PhD in 18th century literature from the University of Edinburgh. In 2009 Edinburgh made her the university’s Alumna of the Year. She holds an honorary degree from Teesside University and is a fellow of the Universities of Sussex and Cardiff, and a Regent for the University of Edinburgh. Her love for history and commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She also reviews for The Washington Post, the LA Times, and for UK newspapers, and is a regular broadcaster on television and radio. She posts regularly to her large following on Facebook and Twitter.”

Genre: Young adult, historical fiction, fantasy

Curriculum Ties: History

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Read an excerpt from the sleepwalking scene that Luca witnesses.

Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 9-12, Ages 14-18

Challenge Issues: references to rape, violence, murder

Defense File:

Violence in the Media: A Joint Statement: 2000-2001 CD #19.3

Chapter 5 of Youth, Pornography, and the Internet (2002)

Justification of Selection: This is a very well written book by a popular author.


Gregory, P. (n.d.) Biography. Philippa Gregory. Retrieved from


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