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The Stolen Child: A Novelby Keith Donohue
"Quite often important books are marginalized by obtuse prejudice, and I hope this will not be the fate of Keith Donohue's utterly absorbing The Stolen Child....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." Graham Joyce, The Washington Post Book World (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)
Synopses & Reviews
Inspired by the W.B. Yeats poem that tempts a child from home to the waters and the wild, The Stolen Child is a modern fairy tale narrated by the child Henry Day and his double.
On a summer night, Henry Day runs away from home and hides in a hollow tree. There he is taken by the changelings — an unaging tribe of wild children who live in darkness and in secret. They spirit him away, name him Aniday, and make him one of their own. Stuck forever as a child, Aniday grows in spirit, struggling to remember the life and family he left behind. He also seeks to understand and fit in this shadow land, as modern life encroaches upon both myth and nature.
In his place, the changelings leave a double, a boy who steals Henry's life in the world. This new Henry Day must adjust to a modern culture while hiding his true identity from the Day family. But he can't hide his extraordinary talent for the piano (a skill the true Henry never displayed), and his dazzling performances prompt his father to suspect that the son he has raised is an imposter. As he ages the new Henry Day becomes haunted by vague but persistent memories of life in another time and place, of a German piano teacher and his prodigy. Of a time when he, too, had been a stolen child. Both Henry and Aniday obsessively search for who they once were before they changed places in the world.
The Stolen Child is a classic tale of leaving childhood and the search for identity. With just the right mix of fantasy and realism, Keith Donohue has created a bedtime story for adults and a literary fable of remarkable depth and strange delights.
"Graced with telling period touches...the novel resurrects an America that now seems as exotic as Middle Earth....Donohue's sparkling debut especially delights because, by surrounding his fantasy with real-world, humdrum detail, he makes magic believable." Kirkus Reviews
"An ingenious, spirited allegory for adolescent angst, aging, the purpose of art, etc., that digs deep. (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly
"Donohue paints a vivid picture of American life from the 1950s into the 1970s and the pressures on a boy who, in addition to not being entirely human, is growing up in the Vietnam War era, when attitudes toward sex, drugs and patriotism were undergoing a sea change." USA Today
"Despite the fantastic element, Donohue anchors the book in a mid-century America that feels specific and real. A haunting, unusual first novel..." Library Journal
"Told in alternating stories, the voices of the young boy and the changeling provide vivid contrasts. Donohue is masterful at evoking time and place, and The Stolen Child will resonate with anyone who longs for their youth." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"Enchanting....Donohue seamlessly blends the fantastical and the real here, with a matter-of-fact approach to the magic that exists on the edges of everyday life. This is a mysterious journey told in lyrical prose." BookPage
"The Stolen Child is unsentimental and vividly imagined. Keith Donohue evokes the otherworldly with humor and the ordinary with wonder. I enjoyed it immensely." Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife
"The Stolen Child is a truly remarkable work on the ancient legend of the changeling. Keith Donohue's poignant take on the myth, rooting it in our time, and telling it from the alternating viewpoints of the two changelings, makes for one of the most touching and absorbing novels I have read in years." Peter Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn
THE STOLEN CHILD is the story of Henry Day, a seven-year-old kidnapped by a strange group living in the dark forest near his home. He is stolen by changelings—ageless beings whose secret community is threatened by encroaching modern life. They give Henry a new name, Aniday, and the gift of agelessness—now and forever, he will be seven years old. In keeping with tradition, the group has left another child in Henry’s place. This changeling boy, who has morphed himself into Henry’s duplicate, must adjust to a completely new way of life and hide his true identity from the Day family. But he can’t hide his extraordinary talent for the piano (a skill the real Henry never displayed), and his near-perfect performances prompt his father to suspect that the son he has raised is an imposter. As he grows older the new Henry Day becomes haunted by vague but persistent memories of life in another time and place, of a German piano teacher and his prodigy. Both Henry and Aniday search obsessively for who they were before they changed places in the world.
Narrated in the alternating voices of Henry Day and his double, THE STOLEN CHILD is a classic tale of the search for identity and leaving childhood. With just the right mix of fantasy and realism, Keith Donohue creates a literary fable of remarkable depth and strange delights. The result is a bedtime story for adults, which will appeal to readers charmed and captivated by such recent bestsellers as Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and The Confessions of Max Tivoli and by the classics of Tolkien and J. M. Barrie.
About the Author
Keith Donohue lives in Maryland, near Washington, D.C. For many years, he was a speechwriter at the National Endowment for the Arts. The Stolen Child is his first novel.
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