Sunday, April 12, 2015

Review: Changeling and Stormbringers (Order of Darkness #1 & #2) by Philippa Gregory

Published: May 24, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.
My Thoughts
Medieval mystery sprinkled with a light romance and an ample amount of intrigue. Changeling is Philippa Gregory’s worthy entry into the Young Adult genre, and I applaud her efforts. Well done!

When Luca Vero is captured and interrogated for heresy, he proves his brilliance and calculated intelligence which ultimately earns him a position with a religious order. TheOrder of the Dragon is commissioned to investigate questionable occurrences across Europe on behalf of the Pope. At the same time, Isolde is denied her inheritance after her father dies and is sent to a nunnery by her brother to serve as the Lady Abbess at the young age of seventeen. When Luca arrives to Isolde’s nunnery to investigate strange occurrences where the nuns in the abbey are experiencing visions, sleep walking, and suffering from stigmatas, Isolde is accused of witchcraft. Isolde flees with her trusted friend Ishraq and together they head to the only person she hopes can give her protection, her uncle. When Luca and Isolde collide once again, together they stumble upon tales of werewolves, alchemists and witches. An adventure that leads to uncovering mysteries and realizing a love between each other.

Luca and Isolde were perfect protagonists for this story. Together they strike a quiet and calm balance despite the turmoil that plagues their lives. I really liked their steady cadence and sharp intelligence. Despite the expectations and challenges that were placed on their shoulders, they handled their lot in life very well and it made me want to continue on with their story.

Ishraq and Freize were great secondary characters. They added a nice complement to story with their shrewd yet caring ways. I appreciated the loyalty they displayed for Luca and Isolde, and I’d like to see their storyline further develop. I want more for both of these characters.

I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying Philippa Gregory’s adult historical fiction, so I was curious how her skill would transfer to Young Adult fiction. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t attest to the accuracy of the time and elements, she’s more learned than myself in this area, so I do what I do best, which is suspend my reality and allow myself to be hypnotized by her storytelling. I enjoyed the adventure.
4 Snowflakes
Published: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
The second book in a YA quartet filled with intrigue, mystery, and romance, from #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory.

Italy, 1453. Luca and Isolde grow more and more attracted to each other as they continue their journey to unravel the mysteries throughout Christendom. But their travels are delayed by the uprising of an intense religious crusade that threatens the balance of the civilized world. Death lingers in the air as war ravages on, but this religious conflict is nothing compared to the arrival of an intense and deadly storm.

Caught in the midst of unimaginable chaos, Luca and Isolde must rely on one another in order to survive.

The second in Philippa Gregory’s four-book series delves further into a forbidden romance and an epic quest. And the tension builds as secrets about The Order of Darkness are finally revealed… 

My Thoughts
In the second installment of the Order of Darkness, Luca, Freize, Isolde and Ishraq continue on their journey through Christendom where Luca is chartered with investigating for the church the ‘end of days’. They come across a children’s crusade with leads to tragedy, natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis and ultimately the slave galley raids that drive Luca to wonder where his parents might be. Because of the destruction of the tsunami and earthquake, Isolde and Ishraq are once again accused of being witches and Stormbringers.

Luca and Freize stand by their friends and see them through the accusations. Toward the end of the novel, Luca is ordered by his commander to investigate the mysterious gold coins that are beginning circulation, so he must travel to Venice, the great trading center of the medieval world, to trace the new currency. At the same time, Luca is battling with his personal quest of finding his father at a time when Christendom is facing danger from their enemies.

Overall, I enjoyed witnessing the character development taking place in this novel.

Luca is battling with wanting to find his parents and serving the Order, while at the same time developing feelings for Isolde. Freize is showing his strong and humorous side and ultimately demonstrating how tight his bond with to Luca really is. Isolde’s sense of privilege comes out in this installment, which I was wondering where it was all along. She showed it when she turned against Ishraq in a fit of jealousy, and I can attribute that to her never facing so much danger that lashing out was inevitable. Ishraq is coming into her own and wanting to be more than a servant/companion to Isolde. She’s willing to challenge the definition of who she should be, which caused a strain between her and Isolde in this book.

This book was rich with historical fiction and character development that I can’t wait to see what the next installment has in store. Very intriguing!
3.5 Snowflakes


  1. Great review. I've not read the author's books before but it's good to know that both their adult and YA books are good reads. I'm not well versed in historical facts either so if there are mistakes, I'd never know. Changeling has been on my TBR list for a while now. I will have to look into getting a copy.

  2. It's so good to read a review on these books, as I feel sometimes like I'm the only one who reads team (self-centered, I know).. Lol. I really like this series! I read the first two and actually liked the second book way better, and can't wait to see where the story will go, it's authentic and I love that Gregory is using a time period that is RARELY portrayed in a hist fic! And she's making it gooood. So many surprises and feels. I really like Luca and Ishraq, heck all the characters are amazing, I really wanna read Fools Gold now.
    GreaT reviews!

    Diamond @ Dee's Reads