First Chapter Thoughts: The Changeling by Victor LaValle

I made a point of seeking out Black horror to read in February, and the first book I read was the wonderful but strange White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi. The second is The Changeling by Victor LaValle – published more recently than the first (2017) but opening on the lives of two people in the late 60s-early 70s.

The first chapter of this book tells the love story of Brian West and Lillian Kagwa, a perfectly normal if fraught story about two individuals with scarred pasts who end up getting married. Lillian is from Uganda, a survivor of the violence there at the time, and Brian is the child of an alcoholic father. It’s a sweet story – and obviously, since this is a horror novel, it takes a turn at the end of the first chapter when Brian goes missing and leaves Lillian and their four-year-old son behind.

I’m not sure what to expect from The Changeling yet. I have to imagine that Apollo (the baby) is the titular changeling, but beyond that I have no theories. I do, however, love LaValle’s writing so far. It dips from dryly humorous to dead serious so quickly that I don’t always realize that there’s been a shift in tone, and it’s just very pretty!

Let’ see where the book goes from here.

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