April 6, 2011

The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue

Title:  The Stolen Child
Author:  Keith Donohue
Format:  PB
Pages:  319
Genre:  Fiction
Publisher:  Anchor, 2007
ISBN-13:  978-1400096534
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  This child and I were bound together.  As boys dream of growing into men, and men dream of the boys they once were, we each took measure of the other half.

Synopsis (Amazon):  “I am a changeling–a word that describes within its own name what we are bound and intended to do. We kidnap a human child and replace him or her with one of our own. . . .”  The double story of Henry Day begins in 1949, when he is kidnapped at age seven by a band of wild childlike beings who live in an ancient, secret community in the forest. The changelings rename their captive Aniday and he becomes, like them, unaging and stuck in time. They leave one of their own to take his place, an imposter who must try–with varying success–to hide his true identity from the Day family. As the changeling Henry grows up, he is haunted by glimpses of his lost double and by vague memories of his own childhood a century earlier. Narrated in turns by Henry and Aniday, The Stolen Child follows them as their lives converge, driven by their obsessive search for who they were before they changed places in the world. Moving from a realistic setting in small-town America deep into the forest of humankind’s most basic desires and fears, this remarkable novel is a haunting fable about identity and the illusory innocence of childhood.

Review:  This story was dark, scary and creepy some of the time.  It was had light and funny moments, but these were rarer.  This fairy tale is not for the faint of heart.  It is terrible, both from the point of view of the changeling and the child who is taken.  It's hard to choose which has the more difficult existence.  It's too easy to say that the child asked for none of it and that the changeling chose the path.  The changeling was once the child, too, a century or more ago.

I nearly wanted to call this a fantasy novel, but the story of both the changelings and the children they replace are both told so matter-of-factly, complete with details that you'd almost rather not know, that it seemed more like a biography or true story.  I realize that the fact that one of the main characters (and many of the secondary characters) are of the fey probably lends itself towards being a fantasy novel.  It just didn't feel like one.

The first half of this book moved a little slow in places.  I wondered if I would even finish it at one point.  Then, the second half sped up suddenly, pulling me in and not letting go until the end.  The ending was what it had to be, bittersweet and hopeful.

Rating:  6 / 10

1 comment:

  1. Yes, it started out rather slow.
    I took months only to read the 2/3 of the book.
    The other 1/3 part only took several hours.


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