The Stolen Child

The Stolen Child

by Keith Donohue


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The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue

“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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400096534
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/08/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 643,037
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.67(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Keith Donohue is the Director of Communications for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the grant-making arm of the National Archives in Washington, DC. Until 1998 he worked at the National Endowment for the Arts and wrote hundreds of speeches for chairmen John Frohnmayer and Jane Alexander. He has written articles for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other newspapers. Donohue holds a Ph.D. in English from The Catholic University of America. His dissertation on Irish writer Flann O'Brien was published as The Irish Anatomist: A Study of Flann O'Brien (Maunsel Press, 2003).

Read an Excerpt


Don't call me a fairy. We don't like to be called fairies anymore. Once upon a time, fairy was a perfectly acceptable catchall for a variety of creatures, but now it has taken on too many associations. Etymologically speaking, a fairy is something quite particular, related in kind to the naiads, or water nymphs, and while of the genus, we are sui generis. The word fairy is drawn from fay (Old French fee), which itself comes from the Latin Fata, the goddess of fate. The fay lived in groups called the faerie, between the heavenly and earthly realms.

There exist in this world a range of sublunary spirits that carminibus coelo possunt deducere lunam, and they have been divided since ancient times into six kinds: fiery, aerial, terrestrial, watery, subterranean, and the whole class of fairies and nymphs. Of the sprites of fire, water, and air, I know next to nothing. But the terrestrial and underground devils I know all too well, and of these, there is infinite variety and attendant myth about their behavior, custom, and culture. Known around the world by many different names--Lares, genii, fauns, satyrs, foliots, Robin Goodfellows, pucks, leprechauns, pukas, sídhe, trolls--the few that remain live hidden in the woods and are rarely seen or encountered by human beings. If you must give me a name, call me hobgoblin.

Or better yet, 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 hobgoblin becomes the child, and the child becomes a hobgoblin. Not any boy or girl will do, but only those rare souls baffled by their young lives or attuned to the weeping troubles of this world. The changelings select carefully, for such opportunities might come along only once a decade or so. A child who becomes part of our society might have to wait a century before his turn in the cycle arrives, when he can become a changeling and reenter the human world.

Preparation is tedious, involving close surveillance of the child, and of his friends and family. This must be done unobserved, of course, and it's best to select the child before he begins school, because it becomes more complicated by then, having to memorize and process a great deal of information beyond the intimate family, and being able to mimic his personality and history as clearly as mirroring his physique and features. Infants are the easiest, but caring for them is a problem for the changelings. Age six or seven is best. Anyone much older is bound to have a more highly developed sense of self. No matter how old or young, the object is to deceive the parents into thinking that this changeling is actually their child. More easily done than most people imagine.

No, the difficulty lies not in assuming a child's history but in the painful physical act of the change itself. First, start with the bones and skin, stretching until one shudders and nearly snaps into the right size and body shape. Then the others begin work on one's new head and face, which require the skills of a sculptor. There's considerable pushing and pulling at the cartilage, as if the skull were a soft wad of clay or taffy, and then the malicious business with the teeth, the removal of the hair, and the tedious -re--weaving. The entire process occurs without a gram of painkiller, although a few imbibe a noxious alcohol made from the fermented mash of acorns. A nasty undertaking, but well worth it, although I could do without the rather complicated rearrangement of the genitals. In the end, one is an exact copy of a child. Thirty years ago, in 1949, I was a changeling who became a human again.

I changed lives with Henry Day, a boy born on a farm outside of town. On a late summer's afternoon, when he was seven, Henry ran away from home and hid in a hollow chestnut tree. Our changeling spies followed him and raised the alarm, and I transformed myself into his perfect facsimile. We grabbed him, and I slipped into the hollowed space to switch my life for his. When the search party found me that night, they were happy, relieved, and proud-not angry, as I had expected. "Henry," a -red--haired man in a fireman's suit said to me as I pretended to sleep in the hiding place. I opened my eyes and gave him a bright smile. The man wrapped me in a thin blanket and carried me out of the woods to a paved road, where a fire truck stood waiting, its red light pulsing like a heartbeat. The firemen took me home to Henry's parents, to my new father and mother. As we drove along the road that night, I kept thinking that if that first test could be passed, the world would once again be mine.

It is a commonly held myth that, among the birds and the beasts, the mother recognizes her young as her own and will refuse a stranger thrust into the den or the nest. This is not so. In fact, the cuckoo commonly lays its eggs in other birds' nests, and despite its extraordinary size and voracious appetite, the cuckoo chick receives as much, indeed more, maternal care, often to the point of driving the other chicks from their lofty home. Sometimes the mother bird starves her own offspring because of the cuckoo's incessant demands. My first task was to create the fiction that I was the real Henry Day. Unfortunately, humans are more suspicious and less tolerant of intruders in the nest.

The rescuers knew only that they were looking for a young boy lost in the woods, and I could remain mute. After all, they had found someone and were therefore content. As the fire truck lurched up the driveway to the Days' home, I vomited against the bright red door, a vivid mess of acorn mash, watercress, and the exoskeletons of a number of small insects. The fireman patted me on the head and scooped me up, blanket and all, as if I were of no more consequence than a rescued kitten or an abandoned baby. Henry's father leapt from the porch to gather me in his arms, and with a strong embrace and warm kisses reeking of smoke and alcohol, he welcomed me home as his only son. The mother would be much harder to fool.

Her face betrayed her every emotion: blotchy skin, chapped with salty tears, her pale blue eyes rimmed in red, her hair matted and disheveled. She reached out for me with trembling hands and emitted a small sharp cry, the kind a rabbit makes when in the distress of the snare. She wiped her eyes on her shirtsleeve and wrapped me in the wracking shudder of a woman in love. Then she began laughing in that deep coloratura.

"Henry? Henry?" She pushed me away and held on to my shoulders at arm's length. "Let me look at you. Is it really you?"

"I'm sorry, Mom."

She brushed away the bangs hiding my eyes and then pulled me against her breast. Her heart beat against the side of my face, and I felt hot and uncomfortable.

"You needn't worry, my little treasure. You're home and safe and sound, and that's all that matters. You've come back to me."

Dad cupped the back of my head with his large hand, and I thought this homecoming tableau might go on forever. I squirmed free and dug out the handkerchief from Henry's pocket, crumbs spilling to the floor.

"I'm sorry I stole the biscuit, Mom."

She laughed, and a shadow passed behind her eyes. Maybe she had been wondering up to that point if I was indeed her flesh and blood, but mentioning the biscuit did the trick. Henry had stolen one from the table when he ran away from home, and while the others took him to the river, I stole and pocketed it. The crumbs proved that I was hers.

Well after midnight, they put me to bed, and such a comfort may be the greatest invention of mankind. In any case, it tops sleeping in a hole in the cold ground, a moldy rabbit skin for your pillow, and the grunts and sighs of a dozen changelings anxious in their dreams. I stretched out like a stick between the crisp sheets and pondered my good fortune. Many tales exist of failed changelings who are uncovered by their presumptive families. One child who showed up in a Nova Scotia fishing village so frightened his poor parents that they fled their own home in the middle of a snowstorm and were later found frozen and bobbing in the frigid harbor. A changeling girl, age six, so shocked her new parents when she opened her mouth to speak that, thus frightened, they poured hot wax into each other's ears and never heard another sound. Other parents, upon learning that their child had been replaced by changelings, had their hair turn white overnight, were stunned into catatonia, heart attacks, or sudden death. Worse yet, though rare, other families drive out the creature through exorcism, banishment, abandonment, murder. Seventy years ago, I lost a good friend after he forgot to make himself look older as he aged. Convinced he was a devil, his parents tied him up like an unwanted kitten in a gunnysack and threw him down a well. Most of the time, though, the parents are confounded by the sudden change of their son or daughter, or one spouse blames the other for their queer fortune. It is a risky endeavor and not for the fainthearted.

That I had come this far undetected caused me no small satisfaction, but I was not completely at ease. A half hour after I had gone to bed, the door to my room swung open slowly. Framed against the hallway light, Mr. and Mrs. Day stuck their heads through the opening. I shut my eyes to mere slits and pretended to be sleeping. Softly, but persistently, she was sobbing. None could cry with such dexterity as Ruth Day. "We have to mend our ways, Billy. You have to make sure this never happens again."

"I know, I promise," he whispered. "Look at him sleeping, though. 'The innocent sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care.'"

He pulled shut the door and left me in the darkness. My fellow changelings and I had been spying on the boy for months, so I knew the contours of my new home at the edge of the forest. Henry's view of their few acres and the world beyond was magical. Outside, the stars shone through the window above a jagged row of firs. Through the open windows, a breeze blew across the top of the sheets, and moths beat their wings in retreat from their perches on the window screen. The nearly full moon reflected enough light into the space to reveal the dim pattern on the wallpaper, the crucifix above my head, pages torn from magazines and newspapers tacked along the wall. A baseball mitt and ball rested on top of the bureau, and on the washstand a pitcher and bowl glowed as white as phosphorous. A short stack of books lay propped against the bowl, and I could barely contain my excitement at the prospect of reading come morning.

The twins began bawling at the break of day. I padded down the hallway, past my new parents' room, following the sound. The babies hushed the moment they saw me, and I am sure that had they the gifts of reason and speech, Mary and Elizabeth would have said "You're not Henry" the moment I walked into the room. But they were mere tots, with more teeth than sentences, and could not articulate the mysteries of their young minds. With their clear wide eyes, they regarded my every move with quiet attentiveness. I tried smiling, but no smiles were returned. I tried making funny faces, tickling them under their fat chins, dancing like a puppet, and whistling like a mockingbird, but they simply watched, passive and inert as two dumb toads. Racking my brain to find a way to get through to them, I recalled other occasions when I had encountered something in the forest as helpless and dangerous as these two human children. Walking along in a lonesome glen, I had come across a bear cub separated from its mother. The frightened animal let out such a godforsaken scream that I half expected to be surrounded by every bear in the mountains. Despite my powers with animals, there was nothing to be done with a monster that could have ripped me open with a single swat. By crooning to the beast, I soothed it, and remembering this, I did so with my newfound sisters. They were enchanted by the sound of my voice and began at once to coo and clap their chubby hands while long strings of drool ran down their chins. "Twinkle, Twinkle" and "Bye, Baby Bunting" reassured or convinced them that I was close enough to be their brother, or preferable to their brother, but who knows for certain what thoughts flitted through their simple minds. They gurgled, and they gooed. In between songs, for counterpoint, I would talk to them in Henry's voice, and gradually they came to believe-or abandon their sense of disbelief.

Mrs. Day bustled into the babies' room, humming and tra--la--la--ing. Her general girth and amplitude amazed me; I had seen her many times before, but not quite at such close quarters. From the safety of the woods, she had seemed more or less the same as all adult humans, but in person, she assumed a singular tenderness, though she smelled faintly sour, a perfume of milk and yeast. She danced across the floor, throwing open curtains, dazzling the room with golden morning, and the girls, brightened by her presence, pulled themselves up by the slats of their cribs. I smiled at her, too. It was all I could do to keep from bursting into joyous laughter. She smiled back at me as if I were her only son.

"Help me with your sisters, would you, Henry?"

I picked up the nearest girl and announced very pointedly to my new mother, "I'll take Elizabeth." She was as heavy as a badger. It is a curious feeling to hold an infant one is not planning to steal; the very young convey a pleasant softness.

The girls' mother stopped and stared at me, and for a beat, she looked puzzled and uncertain. "How did you know that was Elizabeth? You've never been able to tell them apart."

"That's easy, Mom. Elizabeth has two dimples when she smiles and her name's longer, and Mary has just one."

"Aren't you the clever one?" She picked up Mary and headed off downstairs.

From the Hardcover edition.

Reading Group Guide


“Utterly absorbing. . . . A luminous and thrilling novel about our humanity.”
The Washington Post

“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” [p. 3].

The introduction, discussion questions, author biography, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of Keith Donohue’s imaginative and unique tale, The Stolen Child.

1. Henry Day begins his narration with “Don’t call me a fairy” and then he takes the reader on a quasi-scientific account of the differences between fairies, hobgoblins, and other “sublunary spirits” [pp. 3–4]. Yet Aniday and the rest of the changelings refer to themselves as “faeries” throughout the book. Why does Henry insist on not being called a fairy? In what other ways does Henry attempt to distance himself from his prior existence?

2. Twins and other twosomes figure predominantly in the book: Henry and Aniday, Tess and Speck, Big Oscar and Little Oscar, Edward and Gustav, Mary and Elizabeth. Other characters form pairs: Luchóg and Smaolach, Kivi and Blomma, Onions and Béka, George Knoll and Jimmy Cummings. What is the significance of the doubles? In what ways can Henry and Aniday be read as two halves of one being? How does the author, beyond using two alternating narrators, play with the theme of doubles?

3. Rather than each chapter echoing its counterpart, the two stories run at different speeds until the end of the book. How does the author manage time in the novel? Where in the narrative does he relate the same incident from different perspectives and in different sequences?

4. When Henry and his friends attempt to synchronize their watches before looking for little Oscar Love, not one of them has the same time as the others. At other points in the story, Henry or Aniday forget the time of day or, in some cases, what year it is. What does that say about their place in time?

5. In chapter 35, Ruth Day says “I’ve known all along, Henry” [p. 301]. Similarly, Henry dreams of Tess changing her form and saying that she, too, knows the truth. What does Henry think they know about him?

6. A critical event in the novel is Bill Day’s suicide and Henry’s muted reaction. What did Bill come to understand about his son? Why do you think Henry’s mother, Ruth Day, didn’t react in a similar manner?

7. In the poem “The Stolen Child” by W. B. Yeats, the faeries attempt to entice the child away “for the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.” In what ways could the fairyland in Donohue’s novel be considered better than the real world? In what ways could it be considered worse?

8. The changeling legends were cautionary tales meant to illustrate the dangers of creatures that many people once believed in. As McInnes points out in the novel, they were also horrifying explanations for “failure to thrive,” physical deformities, or mental illness in children. Are Henry and Aniday’s stories cautionary tales? What do you make of the changeling who took the place of young Gustav Ungerland and never said another word?

9. What is the significance of music in Henry Day’s transformation? Does the final concert offer Henry a chance at redemption?

10. What role do books play in Aniday’s transformation? As Speck teaches Aniday to read and write, does his understanding of the world change? Is his memoir a chance at redemption?

11. Aniday’s predecessor is referred to as Chopin, but we never really know much about Gustav Ungerland as a changeling. Similarly, once Igel and the others depart the world, they are rarely discussed. Why do the faeries avoid mentioning those who have departed?

12. Why does Speck leave? What is the significance of her map on the ceiling? Do you think Aniday finds Speck?

13. The epigraph from “Nostos” by Louise Gluck states: “We look at the world once, in childhood. / The rest is memory.” Why do you think the author chose it? How does it relate to the novel?

14. Is this book a fairy tale for adults? If so, what is the moral of the story? Who, in the end, is the stolen child?



“Utterly absorbing. . . . A luminous and thrilling novel about our humanity.”
The Washington Post

“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” [p. 3].

The introduction, discussion questions, author biography, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of Keith Donohue’s imaginative and unique tale, The Stolen Child.

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Stolen Child 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 81 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Mischievous hobgoblins (an oxymoron) abduct seven years old Henry Day and replace him with an identically looking doppelganger. Over time the human Henry adapts to living with the hobgoblins though he notices major differences between him and his ¿family¿ for instance unlike him, they never seem to get older or wiser. The replacement Hobgoblin Henry uses his skills of a copy cat to create a successful musical career stealing the sound from talented humans he too has adjusted to being a human life. --- Still over the years the two Henrys consistently feel out of place in their respective world, and that sense of not belonging grows even as they adjust to their environs. Neither can hold a relationship for even a small time period as their alienation widens. Soon each looks back to their early childhood to try to learn why they feel like such an outsider, but their memories are murky at best and seem impossible to have been real. Impossible that is until decades later when Henry meets Henry. --- Though a fantasy, THE STOLEN CHILD is more a deep character study that digs inside the souls (can a hobgoblin have a soul?) of two individuals who have always felt estranged and unhappy with their respective lives as neither believe they belong. The story line cleverly rotates between the Henrys over the years with each passing chapter in their lives just compounding the sentiment of alienation with those around them. Fans will appreciate this powerful yet low keyed (at least the paranormal elements) tale star strangers in a strange land though each has grown up as part of the landscape. --- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finished this book several days ago and it still has a grip on me. The contrast of the two perspectives is what made this book work so well. Timelessness vs. time, Adult vs. child, Growing up vs. stunted 'emotional' growth, living vs. existing. There are unanswered questions in this book, and its not all spelled out for the reader. So, if you do not like to think and if you like the author to do all the work don't bother reading this. Also, this book is Character driven, not action driven. It is a search into the very fabric of who we are and who we are not. Be ready for those one-liners that make you stop reading and say 'wow...let me think about that a second' and be ready for the desire to jump into the story. There is one line in the story I think readers should keep in mind when they finish the book, 'Novelists construct elaborate lies to throw off readers from discovering the meaning behind the words and symbols, as if it could be known.' This is a great book. And I think I will always be haunted by it, it has changed me.
Mendoza on LibraryThing 4 days ago
Not an uplifting book in any sense for me. But still very enjoyable. It's hard to do this review.THe changelings/elves are as raw and real and amazing and hideous as I could ever imagine. This book felt so real even though it is clearly fiction. Donohue's style is not my usual fare yet I ate it up all the way to the end.I am not sure what I would have expected or wanted for his ending but was so depressed for the changlings I just really felt bad for them with the changing times and what it meant for them.I loved his alternating chapters telling us the other side of the story. Reading between the lines added much to my enjoyment.
Booknose on LibraryThing 4 days ago
This is one of the best books I have ever read, I have read alot of great books so thats hard to qualify. In Keith Donohue's debut novel he seemlessly blends fantasy and reality to create a novel full of wonder, excitement, poignancy & sadness. Henry Day is just an ordinary 7 year old boy until the day a changeling kidnaps him, from that day on, Henry become Aniday, his memories slip from him like so much gossamer, until he no longer remembers who he was. He soon learns he is to spend the rest of his days in a his enhanced though childlike body among the ragtag band of child fairies in the woods. Until it is his turn to kidnap a child and take his place in the human world again. Scrapping for their meals and stealing from the nearby town he falls into group and becomes friends with many of them and butts heads with others. The 100 plus year old changeling who now looks just like Henry & lives in his place in the town has his own set of problems adjusting to life as a human boy again. Not the least of which is fooling his new parents into believing his their son.In alternating chapters the story of both the real Henry Day (Aniday) and the imposter Henry Day is told. I can't possible do the tale any justice by trying to describe how deftly the tale is told and the feelings it evokes. Keith Donohue is a master at revealing the feelings of these two characters and alternately making us love and hate them and finally giving us the understanding we need to come to terms with the injustice done to little Henry Day. I am forever a fan of the brilliant mind that crafted this tale. So few authors can pull off a fantasy tale in a reality setting that doesn't come off sounding like a fairy tale. This is literary fantasy at it's best... Bravo Mr. Donohue and More Please!
Sink222 on LibraryThing 4 days ago
wow, the cover brought me in...the story is very refreshing...very light on the fantasy edge.
brianinbuffalo on LibraryThing 4 days ago
I normally avoid fantasy fiction at all costs. But as the early 'buzz trumpeted this book as a "bedtime story for adults," I couldn't resist.A dark story, indeed. And a riveting one. Donohue's use of two narrators to spin essentially the same string of events from different perspectives provides an intriguing journey. The story also probes some interesting issues, including the age-old debate over nature vs. nurture, and how our memories tend to shape our lives. The work is not without its faults. As with many books, I'm convinced Donohue could have told the story quite effectively in about one-third fewer words. Still, it's a work that will stand out in my "memory," especially in a niche that I almost never explore. I look forward to seeing what fascinating tales Donohue will deliver in the future.
dfullmer on LibraryThing 4 days ago
A strange and at times creepy novel, it's a twist on the changeling fairytale. Alternating chapters are told from the changleing's perspective as he takes over a child's life and then from the stolen child's perspective as he becomes one of the "fairy" children.
heidilove on LibraryThing 4 days ago
This is great, one of the best in the genre and far from the wizards-and-swords typical fare. if you liked Little, Big, you'll love this.
angelofmusic_81 on LibraryThing 4 days ago
This is a dark and rather melancholy novel based from the poem of the same name by Yeats. Donohue creates his ambiance by writing subtly and "quietly". Donohue sneaks in key points when you're not looking, then toward the end, he turns and points to them as if to say, "There! You didn't even NOTICE that one!" Still, there it is. I found that ultimately his characters fell short for me, feeling hollow in the sum. Still, a very worthy read.
murraymint11 on LibraryThing 4 days ago
This book grew on me as the two principal characters Henry and Anidaystarted to interact with one another's environment. Despite there beingsome discrepancies in the story, I really enjoyed it.
catsears on LibraryThing 4 days ago
This was not something I was going to read but picked it up and got sucked in. It was a wonderful but haunting story. I was left with an almost uneasy feeling when it was all over.
BCCJillster on LibraryThing 4 days ago
way over-rated and over hyped, imo. Fairly good story, but not as inventive or satisfying as many others. Weak on characterization, and plot is uneven. Donohue took a really interesting idea, but let it drift with no tension for about half the book. Then finally, an event happens that stirs the plot and interest soars for a while. Then it drifts again. This book can't quite make up its mind as to what it is, I think. I'd like to see another, more adept, writer use this outline and make it meaningful. Most empathetic character dies early, and the other is not explored as much as I would have liked (a Wendy-like faerie). Read it as pure fantasy with low expectations and I think you'll enjoy it. It supposedly explores identity, but I really don't see that it tells me more than most good books. Ishiguro plumbs identity far better; and Orson Scott Card's Ender series explores species identity and individuality far better through fantasy.
libmhleigh on LibraryThing 4 days ago
This is the story of the changelings, a small band of hobgoblins who appear to be children and live in the wild. The only way they can leave their life of eternal childhood is to pick a human child and swap places with him or her- the hobgoblin assumes the appearance and mannerisms of the human, and the human becomes one of the hobgoblin group, assuming a new name and identity, until his or her own turn to make the change comes along, maybe 100 years alter. The Stolen Child begins as the latest hobgoblin makes the change, assuming the place of seven-year-old Henry Day- the original Henry is renamed Aniday and must get used to life in the hobgoblin clan. The story is told in alternating perspective- a chapter on Henry Day, a chapter on Aniday, as the reader sees how their lives intersect, run parallel, and differ from each other.Quote: ¿Everyone has an unnameable secret too tire to confess to a friend or lawyer, priest or psychiatrist, too intertwined at the core to excise without harm. Some people choose to ignore it; others bury it deep and lug it unspoken to the grave. We mask it too well that even the body sometimes forgets the secret exists.¿I had a difficult time enjoying this book initially- it was towards the middle that it moved with shocking rapidness from being a book I couldn¿t get into to one I couldn¿t put down. The juxtaposition of the ¿same¿ person living in the two different worlds, as well as how modern life conspires to change the hobgoblin world, is fascinating. When I read this was a first novel, I couldn¿t believe it- the writing is excellent. I definitely thought it was worth the read.
alaskabookworm on LibraryThing 4 days ago
A slightly above-average story. But it left me a little oppressed. I liked the concept, but was disappointed by some of the execution. A lot of imagination,but the lack of research and fact to ground the story, left a void. A couple minor characters could have used a little more developement - i.e. Henry Day's parents. Certainly a worth-enough first novel.
oldbookswine on LibraryThing 4 days ago
What happens to two young boys who changed places in life. Henry Day becaomes a fairies when he is kidnapped and a changeling takes his place in this family. Told in alternating chapters the lives of the boys each one struggling with who they really are.
adamallen on LibraryThing 4 days ago
In my research on this title, I read many reviews that called The Stolen Child a fairy tale for adults. Quite frankly, that is the most appropriate moniker that I could give this work despite my attempts to be original. The only other descriptor I might apply would be ¿literary fantasy.¿ The story is a brilliantly intertwined piece about two boys/men/goblins that live in a small Northeastern or Mid-Atlantic U.S. town. Now, admittedly, when I began the story and it started down this path of hobgoblins/fairies/¿changelings¿, I was highly skeptical. Fantasy just isn¿t my thing. I held no interest in Lord of The Rings or any of its kind. Needless to say, this book faced an uphill battle within the first five pages. That said, within 25 pages, I was hooked.Before getting into the spoilers let me summarize by saying: If you¿re a fan of the fantasy genre, I would imagine The Stolen Child to be an instant classic. If you aren¿t but want something a bit out of your comfort zone, it¿s an excellent place to live for a few days.**SPOILER ALERT (Highlight)**Henry Day is two people. He¿s the original seven-year old boy who is stolen by changelings and made to become one of them (hereafter ¿Aniday¿ as he¿s called). He¿s also the 100-year old changeling who took his place and grew up to be the adult Henry Day (hereafter ¿Henry¿). The story alternates chapters between the points of view of these two characters.The changelings are hobgoblins/fairies/elves/trolls (they go by all of these) who live in the woods outside of this town. They have magical senses (particularly, super hearing) and powers (ability to alter their physical features) although; this is not a focus of the story. What is a focus of the story is that these beings live to be approximately 100-years old. Around the century mark, the changeling will find a withdrawn and dispirited child with whom to change places. They study the child and the family and then the eldest of the clan morphs their face to look exactly like the child (yes, they can do that), the child is stolen, and the changeling assumes the child¿s life. That child lives with the changelings until his turn comes to re-enter the human world. We never receive an explanation for this cycle. We just know it is so.This is what happened with Aniday and Henry. As Aniday lives the life of a changeling, the group is cast from their longstanding area of the woods when an attempt to steal a child goes poorly. The tribe of changelings thins and weakens and Aniday shows a passion to learn more about his family and the memories that he has from childhood. Along the way, he falls in love with another changeling named Speck.Meanwhile, Henry, who knows that he was a changeling, becomes more interested in his childhood in old Germany where he was a child prodigy on the piano. Henry¿s feelings of fraudulence build as the story progresses and as you might imagine, their paths begin to cross. When Henry marries and has a child he becomes increasingly concerned for the child¿s safety. The changelings have just started to come back into the town and Aniday is snooping around to learn more about his former life. Along the way, he finds Henry¿s home and begins create mayhem in his life. All the while, Henry wants to come clean to his wife Tess about his secret but cannot bring himself to do so. Henry is writing his first symphony and cares only about three things, his wife, his son, and his music.Ultimately, the two do meet and without speaking words or understanding one another, they make their peace. In the closing chapters, Aniday watches Henry (and Henry watches Aniday) at the premier of Henry¿s symphony. The music is titled The Stolen Child and the music communicates the story between these characters. Aniday accepts his new life and goes to find his lost love. Henry realizes that his past is no longer of concern ¿ he is Henry Day.**END of SPOILERS**In writing this summary, I¿m conscious of the fact that
mmhubbell on LibraryThing 4 days ago
If you enjoy the concept of switching lives or.. being in two places at once, somewhat like Time Traveler's Wife, or the idea of "the wilds" of suburban woods being encrouched upon by modern sprawl, this book is an interesting take on those concepts. Unfortunately the writing is not beautiful and the language is sometimes prosaic. But the story/concept was very intriguing.
Fourborne on LibraryThing 4 days ago
This is a well written, mind capturing story about a boy named Henry Day who is stolen by fairies(changlings) and replaced by a fairy who looks just like him. I couldn't stop reading it, and when I did I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next. I did not read any reviews of this book. I was in the library looking for something new to read and the title and book jacket caught my eye.
titterington on LibraryThing 4 days ago
Just finished reading was okay. I didn't have a hard time reading it, but it was not as fabulous as I expected based on Amazon reviews.
amagicbeanbuyer on LibraryThing 4 days ago
I enjoyed it very much! But one should not go into it expecting a sparkly innocent fairy story. It takes a much more "realistic" view of things. But the writing is excellent and the way the story is told from two different view points is neat.
klarsenmd on LibraryThing 4 days ago
I had a hard time getting into this one. I appreciate it for it's artistic style and the basic storyline, but I wasn't as captivated by it as I thought I would be.
ethelmertz on LibraryThing 4 days ago
This book was very light on the "fantasy" considering the whole changling premise. I enjoyed the story once I settled in and stopped asking, "Why?" I think one of the best elements of the story is the theme of hiding behind a mask. Those who know us best know who we are anyway.
PirateJenny on LibraryThing 4 days ago
Anything with the title of my favorite Yeats poem will grab my attention, especially if it is indeed a novel about changelings. And I did indeed love the way Donohue wove phrases from the poem into the novel. Hell, I loved the whole novel. Let me say first off I understand how the changeling theme can be seen as a metaphor for growing up, etc., but I don't care at all about that part. That's not what held me spellbound. What grabbed me was the updating of the changeling myth. The story of Henry Day and Aniday. The wild children in the woods, never growing, never aging until they replace a child as they were replaced. Is it the fact that Aniday was taken so recently that he is the only changeling who wants to return to his family? Or were the others from worse families? They said they tended to take children who were neglected, abused, sad, bratty--the ones who weren't so noticed in case the change wasn't perfect. Sure, the changelings are able to contort and change themselves to look exactly like the stolen child, but sometimes behaviors aren't exactly right.Another thing this caused me to ponder is the feral child. Like the changeling, the feral child is a phenomenon that's always intrigued me. I probably have The Jungle Book to blame for that, though I can't say where I first heard about the changeling legend. One of those things I feel I've always known--part of those Irish myths and legends that nobody in my family ever told me but I've always known. Anyway, the way changelings were described in this book were very feral and they couldn't speak English unless they really concentrated. How many instances of changelings in the wild were feral children? Perhaps even children deemed changelings by parents and left out in the wild to die, but who managed to survive? It's a fascinating parallel. Wish I thought of it back in college.This is simply a beautiful book on many levels and it touched me deeply. The current me and the child me who thought she was indeed a changeling.
thequotidian on LibraryThing 8 days ago
In this book, Keith Donohue puts a new twist on an old story. The changeling myth has been familiar to me ever since I read The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw as a child (an excellent book, I highly recommend it), but Donohue's book takes the cake.Donohue writes in double first person, telling the tales of not only the changeling, but also the child who has been stolen away. This perspective is very interesting, especially when the two characters relate an event and contradict each other. The story is very captivating, and I just couldn't put it down. The main characters are well developed and stayed close to my heart. All in all the book is a fantastic first effort from Donohue, and I look forward to reading more of his work.A must-read. 4 Stars.
Antheras on LibraryThing 8 days ago