Summary: Mackie isn't human, although he passes for it. In his town, human babies are sometimes spirited away to be used as fairy pets or sacrifices, and sickly fairy babies are left as substitutes to die in the human world of iron. But changeling Mackie didn't die, thanks to the nurturing of his human "sister," Emma. However, now a teenager, Mackie's allergies to iron and human blood are slowly killing him. To top it off, his crush Tate's baby sister was replaced with a fairy child that died, and Tate isn't willing to accept the town's blind eye attitude toward the swapping anymore. Mackie finds himself in the underground fairy world, with dead fairy children who managed to grow up and their sharp-toothed child queen. He must make decisions: Should he accept their help and be bound to them in return? And what about the other fairy court, where Tate's sister is kept prisoner by the tiny queen's evil sister and her terrifying enforcer?
Verdict: Solid, but a slow starter with excess angst.
Yay!: This is an interesting twist on the old changeling legend. Rather than make the fairies girly and glittery or cruel and beautiful, Yovanoff goes with grotesque and diverse. Her writing style is deft and imaginative, definitely a newcomer to watch! The relationship between Mackie and his sister Emma, who always knew he wasn't her real brother but loved him fiercely anyway, is powerful and moving. But then, I love my big brother like crazy, so I'm a sucker for sibling bonding stories. Also, the heroine? She's a badass. There's no other way to put it. Smart, angry, and fearless, she was the real highlight of this book for me.
Nay!: Some of the world-building isn't completely fleshed out. Apparently the fairies can get some power from humans enjoying their music, but the brief detour into this detail was more confusing than anything. The high school drama runs high but seems beside the point. Mackie is dying, and you'd think he would focus on that rather than whether he should be making out with Tate or the pretty, poisonous Alice. The story drags in parts and takes forever to really get moving. The fae critters don't show up until well into the plot. Also, I just can't buy the entire town turning a blind eye to infant theft for years upon years upon YEARS. That part was a stretch.
Cosmetic: Great cover! The iron implements hanging above the carriage to ward off fairies seem sinister and threatening to the child in the carriage as well. It sets a great tone. However, the blurb is off on one count: There is no little tattooed princess. The princess character is one of the dead girls, and the Morrigan who rules the fairies isn't tattooed. I wonder if the blurb was written for an earlier draft.