Warren Rochelle’s Harvest of Changelings is a pleasure to read, even though the basic shape of the tale is predictable from the very start. Rochelle is a careful writer with a gift for making almost all his characters come alive, and the reader roots for the good guys and condemns the bad guys with a will.
Begin with the enticing opening line: “Once upon a time there was a man who fell in love with a fairy. . . .” He’s Ben Tyson, widower and librarian in North Carolina. She’s Valeria, his neighbor, and when she seems to dematerialize and vanish and fly, he is intrigued. They wind up marrying, and when she is pregnant, she warns him that she must leave once the boy is born. She is needed at home, where her people are fighting a war against the Fomorii, and she is the Prime Mover, head of the ruling council, the Dodecagon. Alas, when she leaves, the Fomorii are waiting for her, all red-eyed and black and wielding fiery whips. She dies on Ben’s doorstep, and he is left to raise his son Malachi alone.
A few years later, Malachi is coming into his powers as only an adolescent can. He’s a misfit in school — he’s small and looks funny — so the temptation to be a bit pranky is irresistible. And it turns out he is not alone. There are three other misfit children also awakening to their changeling status, Russell, Hazel, and Jeff. There is also Thomas, son of Ben’s best friend, drawn to black magic, gaining power through human sacrifice, coveting Malachi because his blood will make him lord over all (except for the Fomorii lurking in the shadows behind him) and enabling him to control the gate between Earth and Faery.
There’s a deadline, of course. The kids must find the gate and use it on Halloween Eve, Samhain. Thomas must seize control by then. Meanwhile dragons are seen in the skies, strange things are happening, and the federal government has quarantined North Carolina whence all the evil seems to flow. (He does not include Jesse Helms, but . . .)
Why all the fuss? Back in Faery, the Dodecagon has issued a call for all changelings — both those born of human-fairy couples and those whose fairy genes (derived from long-past crosses) are strong — to return to Faery, which won the war with the Fomorii but was weakened and needs new blood. The Fomorii are scheming to revive the war and this time win; indeed one of their leaders remarks on how sweet fairy souls will taste.
So there’s a lot at stake, and it all comes down to a final hell-ride in a church van driven by a changeling priest. At this point even a reader who thinks it’s all predictable is on the edge of his or her seat.
Great fun, well done, and Rochelle deserves loads of fans.
— Tom Easton, "The Reference Library," Analog, December 2007