In this grim debut novel, the Doyles hide the terrible secret that 16-year-old Mackie is a changeling who was swapped for their real son when he was a baby. In their town of Gentry, there is an unspoken acknowledgment that a child is stolen every seven years in an uneasy bargain for the town's prosperity. Mackie's struggles to go unnoticed are made more difficult by his severe allergies to iron and other metal, his inability to set foot on consecrated ground such as his minister father's church, and his tendency to become severely ill around blood. Now he is dying. When a classmate's baby sister is abducted and a Replacement left in her place, Mackie is reluctantly drawn into the age-old rift between the Morrigan and the Lady, sisters who lead the two changeling clans who live underneath Gentry. Mackie agrees to help the Morrigan maintain the unwitting townspeople's goodwill in exchange for a drug he needs to survive. Meanwhile, he and his friends plot to rescue Tate's stolen sister from the Lady. Yovanoff's innovative plot draws on the changeling legends from Western European folklore. She does an excellent job of creating and sustaining a mood of fear, hopelessness, and misery throughout the novel, something that is lightened only occasionally by Mackie's dry humor and the easy charm of his friend Roswell.