Apple TV’s ‘The Changeling’: Who Is Emma Valentine & What Happens to Her in the Book?

Apple TVs The Changeling Who Is Emma Valentine What Happens to Her in the Book

Apple TV’s ‘The Changeling’ is set to be released in a few weeks, and mystery horror enthusiasts are excited about the new show that’s about to blur the lines between reality and fantasy. Based on the novel of the same name written by Victor LaValle, ‘The Changeling’ follows a man, Apollo Kagwa, who finds himself scouring the corners of the magical world after his son is brutally murdered by his wife, Emma. Emma Valentine, played by Clark Backo, is the character that we will be discussing today. Since the show hasn’t aired yet, we have to rely on the source material to uncover what exactly happened to Emma Valentine and did she really killed her son? 

Please keep in mind that this post will contain extreme spoilers for both the book and the series. Read at your own risk.

Emma Valentine is the wife of Apollo Kagwa, that was accused of murdering her infant son. In reality, she was aware that her “son” was switched with Troll baby. Emma communicated with a group of witches and eventually managed to track down the Troll that had her son. Emma, along with Apollo, infiltrated the Troll’s cave and rescued her son. At one point in the book, she was able to manifest magical abilities. 

It’s difficult to summarize what exactly went down with Emma in one short paragraph. This is why we decided to dedicate an entire post to Emma and her confusing character development in both the book and the series. If you’re interested in more, stay with us and keep reading!

Before she married Apollo, Emma lived in Brazil 

Emma Valentine was orphaned as a young girl. Her only surviving family was her sister Kim Valentine. Only several decades later, Emma’s sister will come clean and admit that their house fire was no accident at all. Emma’s mother set the fire and tried to kill her whole family. 

Being orphaned at such a tender age, Emma grew up in a local library where she developed a love for Brazilian culture. All grown up, Emma started working in the library, and this is where she met her husband, Apollo

At first, Emma refused to date Apollo since she decided long before meeting him that she would like to live in Brazil, at least for some time. Emma did move to Brazil, but as soon as she returned, she got into a romantic relationship with Apollo, and within several months they were married and expecting a baby boy. 

Emma showed her adventurous side in Brazil 

Emma did some things on that Brazilian trip that showed just how adventurous she was. One day while exploring nature, Emma ran into an old woman in the lagoon. Everybody warned her not to get close to the woman, but she did daring destiny. 

This is when the woman tied a piece of red string around her wrist and asked what her three wishes were. 

Emma wished for a good husband, a healthy child, and a life full of adventure. The last wish seems significantly important to what Emma will eventually go through. The red string was not to be taken off before all wishes had come true, but Apollo used a plastic knife to cut the string off as soon as she returned from the trip, promising that he would make her wishes come true. 

Emma turned from a dedicated mother into a monster overnight 

Emma gave birth to little Brian in a subway cart. Caught off guard by going into labor, they never made it to their apartment, where Emma’s sister Kim was supposed to be waiting for them to assist with the home birth. 

Emma was a normal mother in every aspect until she started noticing something strange going on. Photographs of young Brian were sent to her phone and deleted like they never existed. She noticed that Brian was not quite “hers.” 

At first, she tried to do everything in her power to protect the child, like securing the apartment and even avoiding sleep. But she couldn’t do this forever. She got into contact with “The Wise Ones,” a group of self-proclaimed witches who advised her on how to deal with the current situation. 


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Emma felt disgusted toward young Brian; it wasn’t a baby or her baby. Apollo noticed the change in attitude, and so did Kim Valentine, Emma’s sister. It escalated so much that Apollo refused to leave young Brian with Emma alone. He was deadly afraid that due to her “postnatal depression,” Emma would do something violent to the baby, and she did. 

Emma tried to kill Apollo and succeeded in killing “Brian” 

Emma purchased chains from one of the women that took part in the witch community and decided to bind Apollo with them. She also poisoned him with rat poison, so he can’t defend himself if unconscious. 

She then proceeded to kill Brian Kagwa, who everybody assumed was her son, but she knew better. Before she disappeared, Emma used a hammer in her last attempt to kill Apollo, smashing his cheekbones completely.

Kimm helped Emma escape, and Emma eventually found herself participating in the secret community of witches and children situated on North Brother Island. This is where Emma learned the stories of other women and where she learned that her son, her actual baby, was kidnapped and replaced by a Troll offspring.

There were slim chances that her real son was alive. Apparently, after Troll gets a human baby, it tries to raise it as its own, but unfortunately, it always fails, and then the child either gets eaten or succumbs to other types of injury. 

Emma learned that the baby had to be hidden somewhere in the forest with Troll, and she concluded that Troll must be hiding somewhere in the only forest within New York City Forest Hills Neighborhood. 

At one point, Emma had magical powers 

Soon after reaching Forest Hills, Emma tracked down a man who kidnapped her son and replaced it with a Troll baby. His name was Jorgen Knudsen, and he was a descendant of the Norwegian immigrants who brought the Troll to the USA in the first place. 

Due to her desperation and her mother’s will, Emma developed magical powers. She proceeded to torture Jorgen telepathically. He could hear her screaming Brian’s name as she was looking for the child, which rendered him unable to sleep. 

In an attempt to pacify Emma’s wrath, Jorgen regularly left food for her near the tree line, which she dutifully picked up every day. When Apollo first saw her after several months of separation, she was surrounded by electrical blue light. 

Apollo eventually killed Jorgen, and when Emma learned the real truth about William Wheeler, she ended his life by striking him with a mattock in the back of the head. Killing him nearly instantly. 


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Did Emma manage to save her son and survive? 

Emma and Apollo managed to save Brian from the Troll, even after the beast swallowed their son, but ultimately it seemed like Emma lost her powers as soon as Apollo joined her on the trip. We don’t know what happened to Emma after she was rejoined with her husband and son as the author never specified what their future looked like, but we can only assume that they lived happily ever after, with all her wishes fulfilled. 

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