The Changeover: A Supernatural Romance -- Margaret Mahy

Who mentioned this recently?  Was it you, Colleen?  I forget.  Whoever it was, good job.  The Changeover has a new fan.

Fourteen-year-old Laura Chant occasionally has what she calls "warnings".  She had one the day her father left the family, and she's had another one this morning.  She doesn't know what is coming, but she knows it won't be good.

Changeover: A Supernatural Romance (Point)Later that day, she's walking with her little brother Jacko when they encounter an antiques dealer called Carmody Braque.  She realizes almost immediately that he was the reason for her warning, but by then it's too late.

To save Jacko from Braque's influence, Laura knows she needs to get help from Sorenson (Sorry) Carlisle, an older schoolmate and prefect who she's had little-to-no contact with in the past.  Why?  Because Sorry is a witch.

I really thought I'd read this before.  It didn't take long for me to realize I hadn't -- there is absolutely no way I'd have forgotten the claustrophobic creeping horror of it: 

The whole room seemed to gasp with a dirty sweetness, and she breathed it in before she could stop herself.  The scent of used peppermint came unmistakeably along with it.

Jacko slowly turned his head to look at her.  His Ruggie lay on the pillow beside him, but he showed no interest in it.  He was smiling dreadfully, his teeth unnaturally large, his face in retreat around the smile, but his eyes -- at least his eyes were still his own, though brimming with a still flood of tears.

It wasn't just the fact that it gave me the twitchy willies.  It wasn't just that the Laura/Sorry romance/relationship worked from the very beginning -- that the she-knew-he-was-a-witch-and-he-knew-that-she-knew-knowingness bit created tension between them before they even interacted. It wasn't just that the language was rich or just that Margaret Mahy was never guilty of being condescending to her readers by being over-explanatory. It wasn't just that Laura is immediately believable, with her jumble of emotions -- love and anger and frustration and jealousy. 

I mean, of course it was partly all of that, but for me, it was that all the characters -- in just over two-hundred pages -- were all so well-drawn:  Laura's mother and her new beau, Sorry's mother and grandmother, and of course, Sorry himself.

Really fantastic.  Highly recommended for fans of dark romantic fantasy and supernatural stories in realistic settings and urban fantasy/horror.  (That's not too specific, right?)

Wow, though.  I think it might sell better if they re-vamp the cover art.