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And so ends the Changeling era...
on 7 June 2011
And so, the final curtain has been drawn on the Changeling saga. Steve Feasey and his wonderful world of werewolves, vampires, demons, sorceresses and humans ends with his fifth book in the series, Zombie Dawn.
And right away, I'll say that I'm sad to see it end. While the teenage fantasy series hasn't blown me away, I've had tremendous fun reading the books, and coming to know and love the characters. Teenager Trey Laporte (the last hereditary werewolf in existence), Lucien Charron (his vampire guardian), his daughter Alexa (powerful sorceress) and Tom O' Callahan (an Irish human mercenary as tough as they come); all superb, distinctive characters (among many more), preparing for a sinister war against the diabolical vampire and Lucien's brother, Caliban.
After great development of the characters and the plots, we now arrive at the endgame. Caliban has resurrected the dark sorceress Helde to create an army of the undead, so that he can finally achieve his goal of conquering the human realm. As Lucien mobilizes all his forces ready for counter-attack, Trey has seemingly reached his breaking point, after all his suffering and loss. Turning his back on the Netherworld conflict and his final destiny against Caliban, Trey longs to depart. But another complication arises when Trey's past unexpectedly catches up with him.
Zombie Dawn is a satisfying conclusion to Feasey's Changeling books. But after reading the gripping Blood Wolf and the exciting Demon Games, I was expecting more. Not to say that this is terrible, because it's far from terrible. It's just that there are a lot of sub-plots here that are hit-and-miss, and directions that the author takes some of his characters in which I don't agree with.
When Caliban's invasion happens, the focus shifts onto various pedestrians who experience the unnatural events unfold. In theory, this isn't a bad idea, as it helps provide a sense of realism, and gives the high-stakes so much more power. The problem though is that Feasey wastes too much time "wandering off" when the priority should be the main plot.
Another disappointment is the absence of Phillipa Tipsbury, an innocent unfortunately dragged into the Netherworld conflict. I would've loved to have seen her play a role in the final book, even if it were just a cameo with Alexa in the epilogue. Instead her absence is just explained in a mere paragraph at the start of the story, and that's it. After such wonderful establishment in previous books, a likeable new character is just dismissed without a thought.
Then, there's the return of Ella, one of the surviving members of the werewolf pack LG78. It's an idea (and sub-plot) that starts out with promise, and continues in gripping fashion, but the resolution feels anti-climactic and that Ella's role could've become more positive instead of...well, see for yourself.
However, the main protagonist Trey is truly the hero of the hour. After all his loss, the teenage werewolf comes into his own BIG TIME. After the events of Blood Wolf and Demon Games, Trey has evolved into a hero many can be proud of, facing and overcoming so many challenges and demons, to the point where you're rooting him on like never before. Alexa receives equal development also, with her fierce independence and sorcery prowess matching Trey's own transcendence into a bonafide champion. Their relationship again receives some natural focus, and the resolution to it all is highly pleasing.
Feasey also scores high-marks with pushing the reader's buttons and really making them feel for his characters. Some of the events in Zombie Dawn are truly shocking. Characters suffer and die, and you pray for them to come through. When some of them do, you're naturally relieved. When some don't, you truly mourn. Feasey can capture emotion with his writing in great fashion, and he also paints beautifully, nightmarish imagery with the zombies running amuck and multiplying. Caliban's invasion, Helde's grotesque appearance, the teenage violence, exciting action and the abominations that emerge for the final battle; all brilliantly described.
Parts feel a little rushed, though. And there are some bumps in the reading which feel distracting, but Lucien's fascinating development, the dramatic battles and the much-anticipated face-off between Trey and Caliban turns out to be worth the wait and surprising, with intelligent dialogue to convey the hatred and the lycanthrope's determination and refusal to back down. And the end result and aftermath again proves to be satisfying.
Changeling: Zombie Dawn is a mixed bag, full of good and not-so good. It wasn't the big bang I was expecting, but the positive outweighs the negative. Steve Feasey should be proud of his work and I've certainly enjoyed the ride. Fans will enjoy this last instalment. This book, like the others and the series itself, is recommended.
Well done, Mr Feasey. Looking forward to your next series in 2012.