On the surface, Donohue may seem to have written a clever debut novel about fairies. But the real triumph of the book is that, while our backs were turned, he has performed a switch and delivered a luminous and thrilling novel about our humanity.
The Washington Post
In interlocking chapters of scintillating prose, Donohue tells the tale of Henry Day and the two people he becomes after being snatched at age seven by changelings. One of them takes his human life, convincing almost everyone that he is the real Henry; meanwhile, the boy becomes one of the changelings, dubbed Aniday and initiated into their magical twilight world. Paris's and Woodman's impressive readings make Donohue's beguiling tale even more vivid: Paris uses a remarkable range of accents and pitches for changelings of various European backgrounds, as well as giving us the smart, soulful Aniday, who can't quite accept his new life. Meanwhile, Woodman illustrates the changing sound of American conversation from the '50s to the '70s, and his nuanced tones make one sympathize intensely with the second Henry Day, who is ever fearful of discovery and unable to relax into his own new life. Both readers manage to sound like a full cast without any sound effects, brilliantly illuminating the fantastic, detailed world Donohue has created so that the story will linger in listeners' minds for a long time afterward. Simultaneous release with the Nan Talese hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 23). (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
AGERANGE: Ages 12 to adult.
Some might say this novel about changelings and fairies is a fantasy, but it is written in such a believable way that the reader will be looking at every mischievous child, searching for signs of a changeling. And every YA reader will wonder if being a changeling may explain why he is living with parents who are so unlike him. When Henry Day was seven, he ran away to the forest and was gone for a few days. When he was found in a tree, he seemed different to his father, and his mother realized that something about him had profoundly changed. He had been replaced by a fairy, who had himself been a stolen child many years before. This wonderful book alternates chapters between Aniday, the child/fairy now living in the woods with other changelings, awaiting his turn to become human again, and the changeling now living the life of Henry Day. Unfortunately for the changelings, the world has changed too. Their forest home is encroached upon by a housing development where ironically the adult Henry Day changeling now lives. It becomes harder and harder to find children unattended and their band of half humans/half changelings is decimated by accident and choice. The story is filled with melancholy and an ache to find where one truly belongs, as the lives of the two boys and the boys who came before them and the one born of them are interwoven in a complex pattern of lives, past lives, and changing worlds. Reviewer: Nola Theiss
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)
The centuries-old myth of childlike fairies called "changelings," who live in the forest, steal children, and replace them with one of their own, is at the heart of this complex and plodding fantasy. The story opens with the "stealing" of seven-year-old Henry Day. Donohue tells the story in the alternating voices of Henry and his replacement, painting a vivid although overdone picture of two tortured souls desperate to discover who they are. Henry, now known as Aniday, takes his place among the changelings. He is told to forget his past and to embrace his life with them as an ageless wild child. Refusing to forget, Aniday writes down all his memories. Henry's replacement must adjust to his new life, while being haunted by his changeling past and before that his life as a child in Germany. He struggles with guilt over what he has become and remorse for the life and family he never knew. Donohue ties the two stories together using contrived plot devices such as making the next "changeling" victim more than twenty years later just happen to be the son of a close friend of the current Henry Day. These ridiculous coincidences shatter any cohesiveness in the story. The writing is passable, and the "changeling" premise is intriguing, regardless only the most sophisticated teens will have patience for this story. Sexual situations, strong language, and brief violence make it a purchase only for older teen collections where fantasy is popular. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P S A/YA (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2006, Nan A. TaleseBooks/Doubleday, 323p., Ages 15 to Adult.
Fairy tales often reach into dark places, and this one is no exception. Inspired by a W.B. Yeats poem, it is a modern retelling of the changeling myth, in which a child is stolen away by fairies who leave one of their own in its place. In this case, seven-year-old Henry Day is the changeling; the real Henry is now called Aniday and lives in the woods with a group of other stolen-away children. We follow Henry and Aniday in alternating chapters as Henry grows up and Aniday, forever seven, does not. Henry tries to fit into his new life, but traces of his previous existence keep revealing themselves, e.g., he has a musical talent that the original Henry never had. Meanwhile, Aniday struggles to hold on to his humanity even as he forgets who he was. Despite the fantastic element, Donohue anchors the book in a mid-century America that feels specific and real. A haunting, unusual first novel, The Stolen Child is recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/05.]-Jenne Bergstrom, San Diego Cty. Lib. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-When Henry Day runs away at age seven, he is captured by a gang of hobgoblins, or changelings. One of them assumes his identity and takes his place in his family, and the original Henry, now called Aniday, adapts to life with ageless children who survive in the woods, awaiting their turn to change places with a human. Told in alternating voices by the impostor and the real Henry, this story shows how their lives intertwine as they come to terms with their new realities. New England in the latter half of the 20th century is not kind to creatures of the shadowy realm, and the band of changelings slowly dwindles as housing developments and industry push away the forested areas where they hide. As much as the new Henry tries to assimilate, memories of a prior life nag at him, and he comes to realize that, just as he has stolen Aniday's childhood, his own childhood was stolen away from him in 19th-century Germany. Although the coincidences in their quests stretch a little thin at times, Donohue has created a haunting picture of two lonely spirits searching for identity in the modern world. He includes just enough fantasy that readers will look a little more closely the next time they are walking through a dark stretch of forest.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Fairies, alive and well in '60s small-town America, replace a human boy with one of their own-and fabulous adventures ensue. Seven-year-old Henry Day is hoping to run away from his family and his mundane miseries when he's abducted by changelings and thrown into water in a kind of pagan baptism. Yeats celebrated these legendary, ageless woodland sprites, and Donohue updates their myth. "Ancients in wild children's bodies," the changelings re-name their captive Aniday and rear him to become a forest-stalker capable of resuscitating deer hit by the townsfolk's heedless drivers. Meanwhile, another "boy" steals into Aniday's old bed; a changeling the Day family believes is their own Henry who'd been lost in a forest. In alternating chapters, Aniday and Henry spin a tale that's part metaphysical The Prince and the Pauper, part runic Trading Places. The former fairy, in elementary school, finds earthlings bizarre and uncouth; to him they are "nose-pickers, thumbsuckers, snorers, ne'er-do-wells." The new "Henry Day" befriends his changeling hosts, but longs for books. As the boys age, each seeks identity, but is haunted by memory-Aniday, of his family and clean sheets, "Henry Day," of a life richer than the one he's living with his suburban hosts. Discovering in himself a prodigious talent as a pianist, he wonders about his previous existence. Something tells him that in the past he had been a genius musician. Graced with telling period touches-there are nods to The Jackie Gleason Show and the Kennedys-the novel resurrects an America that now seems as exotic as Middle Earth. Take that, Bilbo Baggins! Donohue's sparkling debut especially delights because, by surrounding his fantasy withreal-world, humdrum detail, he makes magic believable.