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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yeah, it's the prefects you need to watch out for!
Margaret Mahy's book is an unusual take on the juvenile magic-user theme. It takes place in New Zealand, in a single-parent home. Laura Chant lives with her divorced mother, and her toddler brother. Nothing is entirely reliable in Laura's world, certainly not her slightly flaky mother, their extremely flaky car, and especially the surrounding landscape, being transformed...
Published on December 4, 2002 by Brian Almquist

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Strong teen read
Laura Chant is a teen growing up with her divorced mom and younger brother in New Zealand. Laura sees that something is happening to her brother but no one else seems to understand what is going on or what to do about it until Laura meets and gets to know a mysterious boy from school known as Sorry.

A powerful book.
Published 23 months ago by Debnance at Readerbuzz


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yeah, it's the prefects you need to watch out for!, December 4, 2002
This review is from: Changeover: A Supernatural Romance (Point) (Mass Market Paperback)
Margaret Mahy's book is an unusual take on the juvenile magic-user theme. It takes place in New Zealand, in a single-parent home. Laura Chant lives with her divorced mother, and her toddler brother. Nothing is entirely reliable in Laura's world, certainly not her slightly flaky mother, their extremely flaky car, and especially the surrounding landscape, being transformed from forest and farm into a new subdivision.
Chant, perfectly named, can sense things that others can't. She can sense that her brother's rapid descent into illness is supernatural, and that it is linked to the boy's unfortunate contact with the also perfectly named Carmody Braque. She also can sense that the mysterious prefect at her school, an older boy named Sorensen Carlisle, is a "witch" and that he may hold the only key to healing her brother.
Sorry, as he's called, is one of those magnificent characters, the enigmatic boy who shows all the signs of being a proto-romance hero. But here, he's young, sly, and not above using his advantage over Laura. Mahy writes Laura as a strong character, and watching her handle Sorry is a lot of fun.
This novel is full of brooding atmosphere but with a great contemporary setting. Mahy's protagonist carries her weight, but everyone else is equally nuanced and fascinating. The book calls itself a romance, but I've never read an adult romance filled with such menacing ambiguity.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my teenage favorites, November 30, 2005
By 
Kimberly S. Stanley (Brooklyn, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Changeover: A Supernatural Romance (Point) (Mass Market Paperback)
I read this book as a teenager when it originally came out in 1984. The greatest compliment that I can give The Changeover is that twenty+ years later, I still reread it sometimes--and I still enjoy it. I can't say that about too many of my childhood books.

The Changeover was a rare bird back in mid-eighties--there weren't too many well-written books about magic and the supernatural with teenage girls as the protagonists in those days. This was a genre that I adored and could never get enough of back then. So this novel was an instant favorite.

There are certain books that you read when you are young that shape the kind of person that you become--not necessarily in a large way, but in subtle way. The Changeover was one of these books for me. I didn't realize it when I read the book at fourteen, but The Changeover is a metaphor for changing from childhood to adulthood--from becoming a girl to becoming a woman. And this book really captures that--all the insecurity and the fear, and even the pleasure that you feel as a girl in your own new-found, womanly power. I guess this book appealed to me so much because it made me feel better about a lot of the things I was going through at fourteen; it gave me a certain confidence in myself: I wasn't just getting older--I was becoming a different being.

I have read other comments about this book and I agree with the reviewers that say they want a sequel. I still think about Laura from time to time--she and I were the same age when the book came out--and I often wonder what became of her and what type of woman she became.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Divorce, adolescence, and witchcraft...., April 29, 2000
This review is from: Changeover: A Supernatural Romance (Point) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the best young adult book I have ever read. Laura and Sorry are unforgettable. Their shared scenes crackle with electricity (remember the munching thunderclouds?) and never has a male witch been so...appealing.
Laura Chant is a sensitive, a girl with supernatural inclinations, with certain glimpses into the future. One day she looks into the mirror and sees herself changed. She is aware that her world is going to change, but doesn't know what to do about it. Then her beloved brother Jacko starts to sicken from what she knows is not a natural cause. She's recognized the school prefect Sorenson Carlisle as a witch, and goes to him for help. He tells her that in order to save Jacko she can be changed over, that is become a witch, but the transformation is irrevocable. She will forever be separate from most others.
Mahy is an incredible writer. She makes the strange seem like home, and also makes the familiar worth another look. Read this book!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful coming-of-age story for all ages., January 27, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Changeover: A Supernatural Romance (Point) (Mass Market Paperback)
As a teenager, I first saw The Changeover in the pages of a book club catalogue and I was drawn to it by the promise of a "supernatural romance" (two of my favorite topics in one book!). Once I actually read this book, I fell in love with it and have dragged it out of the old bookcase many times since. Until recently, I hadn't read The Changeover in quite some time. Now, armed with an English degree and an irrepressible need to over-analyze every piece of writing, I am EVEN MORE IMPRESSED! Laura, as a "sensitive", is standing on the threshold between two worlds, caught between the life she has always known as a mere mortal and the promise of a new, powerful existence as a witch. However, as a teenager, Laura is also on the verge of adulthood, waiting to enter a world that is just as foreign and mysterious to her as that of the supernatural. This parallel in the story beautifully expresses how becoming a woman is, in effect, like becoming a witch. The Changeover is not just about one girl who crosses over to a world of magic. It represents the changeover that ALL girls make on their journey to womanhood and, in so doing, attain their full potential and power as a human being (as well as a little "magic"). This is an excellent message for young women, and it is even more impressive for its subtlety.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably my favorite book of all time..., May 16, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Changeover: A Supernatural Romance (Point) (Mass Market Paperback)
I picked up The Changeover nine years ago in a bookstore because it sounded interesting and it was long (my family was going on vacation or something, I think). One of the best choices I ever made! I LOVE this book! To this day (and at 21 I'm a little old to be reading Young Adult fiction) I still reread The Changeover again several times a year. Mahy's prose is intensely descriptive and very powerful; it transports readers to Laura Chant's world. Eventually you forget you're even reading a book, and you begin to think you *are* Laura. Sometimes I (still) wish I were! =) And I'll be the first to admit that I'm still waiting for Sorenson Carlisle to pop up on my doorstep - however dysfunctional a spouse *he'd* be. The "supernatural" aspects of the story coexist harmoniously with the "natural" aspects so as to create a seamless quality which is rare in works of its genre. This book is definitely a class act, and worthy of its awards - it definitely beats out Christopher Pike and (I presume) R.L. Stine.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly and sensitively written, December 10, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Changeover: A Supernatural Romance (Point) (Mass Market Paperback)
It has been said that the true test of an author's success is the number of times his/her reader rereads the book written. If that is the case, then Margaret Mahy is a most successful writer. To be able to continue to lure readers, both new and old, to read and reread a book, starting from the first reading at 10, then again when the shelves are cleared and the book rediscovered at 14, and then again at 18, and so on...and for the reader to still be enchanted by the same characters doing the same thing, saying the same lines over and over again...The Changeover really does 'change you over' into Mahy's private world, where nothing matters except for Laura Chant,her quest to save her darling brother Jacko, and of course, not forgetting the peek-a-boo relationship she has with Sorry Carlisle, which makes the relationship all the more sensual, in a non-sexual way. Read it...and read it again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic and Favourite, January 4, 2006
By 
Robin (Lincoln, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Changeover: A Supernatural Romance (Point) (Mass Market Paperback)
This book is amazing. The writing is so simple and so beautiful that the images stay in your head for days after you've finished it. The story is about change and transformation, seen through the eyes of the two very different main characters. Both of them is different at the end, and has a different place in their lives and their families. The romance between Laura and Sorry really moves you, because they learn to love themselves as they fall in love with each other. Also, the magic and danger feels so real and not stupid or made up at all. The best thing about this book is that when you finish it, you feel transformed too. I love this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, April 4, 2002
This review is from: Changeover: A Supernatural Romance (Point) (Mass Market Paperback)
I think the thing I enjoyed most about the book, was the way Mahy managed to write a YA novel without being trapped in the condescending mold that most other YA authors are (with the exception of a few). Sorry and Chant's relationship was an uneasy, complex, yet inevitable thing and their journey together was full of interesting, and sometimes disturbing, magic. As far as villains go, Carmody Broque is one individual that gave me the willies for days after I finished the book. Kudos to Mahy for that. This book was amazing and I'd sell my first born for a sequel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twelve years later it remains one of my favorite novels., July 9, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Changeover: A Supernatural Romance (Point) (Mass Market Paperback)
I first read this novel twelve years ago, and it has remained a part of my life ever since. I have loaned my copy out innumerable times over the years, as it had been somewhat hard to find. I've wished many times for a sequel to it. What fun it would be to find out more about Chant's life- not to mention Sorry's! Thank you Margaret Mahy for such an enchanting story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You Don't Need Me To Tell You What To Do. But Only You Can Do It...", May 27, 2011
By 
R. M. Fisher "Ravenya" (New Zealand = Middle Earth!) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
I read Margaret Mahy's Carnegie-winning novel first as a teenager and again just recently, in my twenties. Despite the passage of time, I found that "The Changeover" had lost none of its potency. It's still a striking coming-of-age story, still a nail-biting supernatural thriller, still a fascinating character study, and still a dark urban fairytale that fully deserves the recognition it got at the time of its first publication back in the 1980s. It has aged remarkably well, for as Mahy points out in her postscript, there is very little use of eighties lingo or technology. This story could just as easily take place in the 21st century as it did two decades ago.

The story itself is surprisingly straightforward: Laura Chant is a teenage girl who experiences "warnings" before periods of upheaval in her life, and one such warning strikes her at the opening of the book. Sure enough, on the way home from school her three year old brother Jacko is marked out by a sinister storekeeper, causing him to fall gravely ill.

Recognizing that there are supernatural forces at work, Laura seeks the help of a family of witches that live in the community; for she has long-since identified her school fellow Sorenson Carlisle as a witch. He, his mother and his grandmother come up with a solution that will allow Laura to save her brother's life: become a witch herself by undergoing a "changeover". Only then will she have the power to vanquish the spirit attacking her brother's life force.

It is a plot that almost seems simplistic (you'd except to see a condensed version in the teaser on the average episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural), but the power of this story is in the telling. Through her masterful use of language, Mahy's simple story conceit becomes a metaphorical coming-of-age tale in which Laura traverses the landscape of her mind in order to unlock her innate power. The integral chapter that lends the book its title deserves to be read twice over on the strength of its intensity, mystery and sheer effectiveness.

Balancing out the supernatural side of things are Laura's conflicting feelings over her mother bringing home a new boyfriend and the reappearance of her absentee father, as well as the usual perplexities that beset the average teenage girl: the onset of puberty, the disillusions of adulthood, and the awareness of the opposite sex.

Mahy has a gift with words, turning the subdivision of Gardendale into a dangerous fairytale realm, portraying Laura's family (her adored little brother and rather scatterbrained mother) as a household that a teenage girl would willingly fight to the death for, and bringing to life a mysterious, striking, incomprehensible male witch that repels as much as he attracts. According to Mahy's postscript, Laura was originally going to seek out the help of a female classmate, but on flipping the gender of this character to male, the novel's entire tone was changed. The chemistry between the two leads is palpable, for as a male witch grappling with a feminine heritage, Sorenson (or "Sorry" as he's nicknamed) is inevitably drawn to Laura's companionship in combating his own traumatic past and lonely present.

The prose is so rich that I found during my second read that I could recall certain passages as if I'd read the book only yesterday instead of years ago, and despite knowing the conclusion, I still found my anticipation rising as the story headed toward its climax.

As a kiwi, "The Changeover" will always be close to my heart considering it is set in (or was at least inspired by) the city in which I was born and raised, and was the book that made me aware that the fantasy genre is not restricted to faraway places. Mahy speaks of the "imagination displacement" she suffered from prior to the writing of "The Changeover," stemming from the experience of being a New Zealand author raised on books that were set entirely in the English countryside. Having overcome this unusual form of writer's block, "The Changeover" serves as an eye-opener for any New Zealand reader considering its blend of a familiar landscape with the wider aspects of folklore and fairytale.

That's not to say that international readers are excluded. Its content transcends its location to become a story about universal emotions, experiences and ideas. Mahy's is a master storyteller, with a firm grasp of imagery and without a single wasted or superfluous word, in which Laura's mundane life is just as fascinating as the mysterious world of the Carlisle witches (of course it is, it wouldn't be worth fighting for if it wasn't). As a display of writing expertise, Mahy proves herself the well-deserved winner of the 1984 Carnegie Medal, and "The Changeover" demands a second read just to once again take you by surprise at how simultaneously simple and complex it really is.
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Changeover: A Supernatural Romance (Point)
Changeover: A Supernatural Romance (Point) by Margaret Mahy (Mass Market Paperback - January 1, 1994)
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