A missing child
A family in denial
Which one is true?
On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the dark Wentshire Forest Pass, when his father, Sorrel, stopped the car to investigate a mysterious knocking sound. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.
Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. Journeying through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there, he talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know what happened to the little boy…
Intensely dark, deeply chilling and searingly thought provoking, Changeling is an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, taking you to places you will never, ever forget.
I love the format of these novels, in which the reader is presented with six podcasts, each told from a different perspective and giving a different view of events, yet all linked to the mystery in question. In this instance, Scott King is looking into the disappearance of Alfie Marsden who went missing thirty years ago, aged seven. As I’ve said in my reviews of the first two novels, I think that this is a format that works brilliantly. I love the way in which each episode takes a different perspective, allowing the reader to form their own opinion, yet also having to continually reassess their assumptions as new evidence comes to light. It’s an incredibly engaging format, and one that keeps the reader on their toes as they are presented with different points of view.
Scott King points out that the purpose of his podcasts is not to solve a mystery. He is merely looking to present the case, and to perhaps view it from a different perspective, or to present evidence or a statement that may not be public knowledge. In this case, it may be that the detail has simply been forgotten by those not intimately connected to the case, given the time that has elapsed since Alfie’s disappearance. While his purpose may not be to solve the mystery, something about this one gets under Scott’s skin, and as the reader, I was also fully caught up in this mystery. How does a boy disappear without a trace, never to be seen again? It’s such a compelling mystery that I was hoping that this one would be solved, whatever King’s intentions.
Alfie disappeared on Christmas Eve on the Wentshire Forest Pass when his father, Sorrel, pulled over to check the engine of their car. As with previous novels, King doesn’t just incorporate witness statements, but also looks at the folklore and myth surrounding the area. For Wentworth Forest, there is plenty to go at. This exploration of the folklore surrounding an area does add a hint of supernatural to Wesolowski’s novels, and while it may not be to everyone’s taste, for me it adds that little something extra and sets it apart from other mysteries. I have to admit that Changeling didn’t deliver the same level of “did I lock the door, is there anyone behind me” level of creepiness that Hydra did. To be honest, I’m not sure that Wesolowski can top Hydra in the supernatural / horror stakes for me (if you happen to read this, Matt, feel free to take this as a challenge 😉).
As each novel in the series looks at a separate mystery, it is possible to read these as standalone novels, although there are mentions of the previous two cases in Changeling. I can’t recommend the series enough though, and I don’t know why you’d deprive yourself of reading all three. It’s a fantastic and original series, and I really hope that there are more to come.
Changeling is the third novel in the Six Stories series by Matt Wesolowski, published by Orenda Books.