K. Ferrin joins us to explain ten things we should know about the Changelings in Across the Darkling Sea.
Changelings are not as prevalent in pop culture as things such as dragons, or even as their own parents the fairies. But there is a lot of history out there about them if you search for it. Here are 10 tidbits to chew on about Changelings.
In European folklore, fairies will sometimes steal a human child, leaving one of their own – a changeling – behind in its place. Although in some stories, an elderly fairy is left behind rather than a child.
Changelings appear outside of Europe as well. In eastern Nigeria there is a creature called ogbanje, a term that translates roughly to “child who comes and goes”. In filipino culture there are stories of aswangs, a type of ghoul that leaves behind a duplicate of the child they take made of plant matter.
An inverted coat, a pair of open iron scissors left where the child sleeps, and constant watch, were all considered methods of preventing fairies from taking a human child.
Signs that you had a changeling in your house included things like incessant crying, unusual facial features or other deformities of the body, constant feeding, and also the ability of the baby to speak well before a human child would normally be able to. The occurrence of bad things happening, such as fresh milk curdling or illness or similar things inflicting a family were also considered signs.
Putting a changeling in a fire was seen as a way to force the fairies to return the human child. It would jump up the chimney and magically return the human child. Stories of forcing fairies to return human children are often violent and involve human parents brutalizing the changeling in various in an attempt to force the fairies to return the child.
In 1895 Bridget Cleary was murdered. She fell gravely ill, and her husband became convinced that his wife had been taken by fairies, and the thing left behind was nothing but a creature of magic and deceit. So, along with many of others in his village, brutally murdered her in the hopes it would force the fairies to restore Bridget to them. Her story is alive today in the form of an Irish nursery rhyme: Are you a witch or are you a fairy? Are you the wife of Michael Cleary? That story, and that rhyme stuck with me, and inspired a portion of the story.
Michael Leahy was born with some sort of a disability but in the 1800s this was seen as an indication the child was a changeling. He was murdered – perhaps accidentally, this point isn’t clear – by his grandmother as she attempted to drive the fairy out of him. She was tried, her argument being that Michael had really died four years earlier when he had been taken by the fairies. She was acquitted of murder. Michael’s story was the inspiration for some of what Ling went through in the beginning of Across the Darkling Sea, where her own mother tries to drive the fairies out of her.
Changelings made an appearance on the show Supernatural. In season three, episode two, Sam and Dean are forced to face off with a town full of changelings who are killing families in the neighborhood where they live. The episode was called The Kids Are All Right.
Changelings are not all that common in literature, but they do have some roles. Ben Aaronovitch wrote a book called Foxglove Summer, where the phenomena of fairies taking human children is pulled right into our 21st century reality. Keith Donohue also wrote a book called The Stolen Child about a group of changelings living in in a forest in Pennsylvania.
Cuckoo Birds would regularly lay their eggs in the nests of unsuspecting birds from other species, often pushing out the eggs already laid in the nests. The unsuspecting parents would then hatch the Cuckoo and raise the chick to adulthood.
Across the Darkling Sea
Publication date: November 12th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Across the Darkling Sea is the first book in the new serial fantasy series Magicfall, by K. Ferrin!
Magic is forbidden in Brielle, but that never stopped Evelyn. Until Now. Because Evelyn has discovered she is magic, and now she is running for her life.
Her only hope is on an island cloaked in shadow, an island of dark magic and even darker beasts. An island warlocks call home.
Evelyn’s friends have turned against her, her own mother tried to kill her, and the place she calls home has banished her. Hidden away in the belly of a riverboat, a stowaway, her journey begins.
Across the Darkling Sea is book one in a serial series. Each book is roughly 50,000 words or about 150 pages. To emphasize, this is a serial series, meaning it’s one story that stretches across multiple books.
K. Ferrin spends her days surrounded by engineers, technology, and humming machinery, but her evenings are steeped in magic, myth, and adventure. She writes fantasy, loves gardening, and eats way too much pie. She lives at the foot of the Colorado Rockies with her husband and two pooches.
Her novels include the stand alone YA fantasy novel Magicless, as well as Across the Darkling Sea, and A Dying Land, the first two books of a series. You can find her online at http://www.kferrin.com.