The Changeover

Margaret Mahy

The Changeover
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The Changeover

Margaret Mahy

‘A clammy hand pressed Laura down to her knees beside Jacko’s bed. It was the hand of terror, nothing less.’

It was a warning. Laura felt it when she looked in the mirror that morning. There had been others: the day her father left home, the day she met Sorensen - the boy with the strange silver eyes. But nothing had prepared Laura for the horror of today. And now her little brother, Jacko, was fighting for his life after being sucked dry of his youth by the sinister Carmody Braque.

Laura knows there is only one way to save Jacko; she must join Sorensen and use his supernatural powers to change over if there is to be any hope for her little brother.

‘It is rare to find a novel which captures so well the changeover from child to adult, and from what is real in the mind to what is real outside.’ The Times Literary Supplement

‘The best supernatural young adult fiction around. With Stephen King power and Mahy’s own class and polish.’ Kirkus Review


Laura Chant feels a warning before her little brother Jacko begins to weaken at the hands of a terrible demon. She knows she’ll need the help of that strange boy Sorenson Carlisle and his family if she wants to save her brother’s life. The Changeover is a powerful story of transformation, and of magic that feels instinctive and natural, while Laura shifts toward adulthood. It’s a supernatural romance and coming-of-age novel that was published long before sparkling vampires hit the shelves.

There’s a moment in the book where a sinister being stamps a permanent imprint on Laura’s little brother. Scenes and characters from the book have been similarly etched in my brain since I first read it as a tween a few decades ago. Mahy’s writing is smart and beautiful, dotted with philosophy and wit. From the details of Laura’s family life, to the surreal changeover process, the book is never frilly, yet it is entirely and extraordinarily vivid.

Kim Gruschow is the Children’s Book Buyer at Readings St Kilda.

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