The Second Review!

4 04 2011
I read Changeling with two simultaneous brains. My right brain, emotional, reactive, horrified and full of dread. I identified with Joanne as a woman — I felt the fear every woman feels on a cellular level of being taken, raped, dominated, and abused. I sympathized with her reactions to physical and psychological torture. I agonized with Joanne, I understood her struggle to survive; her decision whether or not to want to stay alive. When she finally escapes from Dreyfuss’ clutches I found myself shouting RUN TO THE HOSPITAL YOU DUMB BITCH! She doesn’t but….well, I won’t give it away.

But I am also a mental health professional, so I couldn’t help but also view the characters and the story with my left brain: clinical, rational, logical. It is also for this reason — my profession — that I don’t generally read horror fiction. I see enough true-life horror in my work that I am not entertained by it anymore. That being said, Changeling was like a scary roller-coaster ride, and I did enjoy it. Dreyfuss is a vampire, a mythical beast, far enough removed from reality that I was able to be carried along by the story and by Joanne’s transformation.

Clinically, Dreyfuss was easy. He is a classic narcissistic sociopath. Contrary to popular belief, sociopaths can be very charming. They are master manipulators who callously toy with people’s emotions to get what they want. Dreyfuss has no conscience and no empathy. Joanne is at first merely food and then a social experiment. He sees her triumphs as his triumphs because he sees her as his creation. She is not a person to him. At best she is a pet. He never has to justify his treatment of her to himself because he doesn’t think about whether what he’s doing is right or wrong. To him, it is right because it is what he wants. As she continues to survive the torture he metes out, she becomes (in his estimation) worthy of becoming his Changeling. It makes no difference to him whether she wants to become a Vampire or not. It is right because it is what he wants.

Joanne’s character, and journey, is a bit more complex. We know almost nothing about her before she is captured by Dreyfuss. She works a lot, she’s liked well-enough by her office-mates, she lives alone and has a cat. Gallagher gives us very little information to help us predict the outcome for Joanne; or whether she will survive at all. Fortunately for us, Joanne does fight and she does survive. Gallagher’s language shows us so well, so descriptively, Joanne’s journey from waking up in shock through the fight-or-flight reaction, post-traumatic stress, battered-person syndrome, the cycle of violence, rape trauma syndrome, and Stockholm syndrome that it was almost physically painful to read. There were times when I had to put the book down and walk away.  I kept walking away because it was so horrific. But I kept coming back because I just had to know what would happen next.

This is not a love story.

At first, Joanne is disoriented and in extreme shock and pain. She copes by narrowing her focus to the very minutiae of survival. Breathing, bathing, eating. She demonstrates very little fear at this point. She is only surviving. As the shock subsides and she begins to adapt, we see her focus widen and her terror grow. And then begins the cycle of violence.  After months of unpredictable violence at the hands of someone physically overpowering and cruel, it is not uncommon for the victim to initiate a beating. It sounds masochistic, but within this context, it is actually a way for the victim to maintain some measure of control. And this is exactly that we see in Joanne. Once the beating happens that you know is coming eventually, you can stop worrying about when it’s going to happen — at least for a brief period of time. In some relationships there is even a honeymoon period of reconciliation. We do not see this with Dreyfuss, but then again, this is not a love story.

As time goes on and Joanne survives her training as a Changeling, her growing strength surprises her captor. He takes all the credit, of course (the bastard) but in the end she proves to us (and to him) that there is precious little that she can’t withstand.
Christine Whitley
MA. Licensed Professional Counselor

The First Review

23 02 2011

Changeling has had its first review.  It comes from Betty Carlton, who writes erotic romance.  Betty doesn’t like horror, so I’ll let her explain how she came to be reviewing my book!  You can find her blog here, and you can sample her work and buy it, here.

A  review of ” The Changeling ” by Morgan Gallagher.

I don’t read this stuff
I don’t read this stuff

Not until I discovered, Morgan Gallagher. I found her on Sample Sunday.*
After opening her blog page I was just about to skip reading when a sentence caught my eye. Then another and another, I read the complete section and now had questions. Why was Joanne hurt, and who would have inflicted such bruises?
I read everything on her blog and could not find the answer. Her release wasn’t until April 10th. So when an opportunity to read a pre-release copy of her book came my way I jumped at it.
It took me two sittings to read it. Why two, because I started reading it at 8pm. If I had started earlier, this would have been one of those books you don’t put down until the last page and you read that twice not wanting the adventure to be over.
Morgan has mastered the emotional ride. From who cares about a cat. To I hope the cat is, Ok. From silly young woman to cheering her on to survive and onto that’s it–show him, show them, show the world.
What can you say about Jonathan Dreyfuss? Miss Gallagher straps us into the roller coaster as she makes you dislike him, understand him, pity him, and then almost hoping for him.
Her ways with words will have you not only seeing the scenes before your eyes, but you will swear you’re smelling what she wants you to. Whether the scent of cologne, sweat, blood, (yes blood) and the back streets of London at night, your senses will reel.
Dreyfuss is on the hunt. Joanne becomes his latest victim, then his prisoner. Her will to live will surprise him, and together a long arduous journey begins. He will take everything from her he can, until the day he decides to withhold nothing from her.
Joanne will not go willing in the direction he has set out for her. The day will come when she understands his weakness, and she discovers the inner strength to use it against him. Will she still want to?
Who will win the day? No spoilers here. Release date April 10th .
Sample Sunday many independent writers offer on their blogs free reading from their latest work. On Sunday many links can be found on Twitter #ss or #samplesunday.