"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. No ordinary kidnappers, they are the fairy 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 ...
"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. No ordinary kidnappers, they are the fairy 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 folk 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 "The Time Traveler's Wife" and "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" and by the classics by Tolkien and J.M. Barrie.
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Donohue's debut novel puts the old myth of changelings into a modern setting. His changelings are not anything like graceful fairies. Their race is ancient and deteriorating. They call themselves hobgoblins, decrepit child-sized beings that live decades, until they can find a suitable child with which to change places, and enter the human world. The Stolen Child follows the lives of Henry Day and the changeling who takes his place, alternating chapters between them as they struggle to understand their true identities. Henry Day becomes Aniday, one of the changelings that live furtively in the forest, subsisting on grubs and stolen goods. He attempts to understand his past via writing, piecing together the true story of his life slowly and painfully. The false Henry Day lives in comfort and guilt in a suburb, hiding the secret of his past, seeking expression through his music. As the story slowly unravels, it becomes clear that their two lives are even more closely intertwined than anyone suspects.
This book moves slowly, telling a story that has many brutal and violent moments in a gentle fashion. Aniday and Henry Days' lives are explored in gritty mundane details and sudden flashes of beauty. There are quite a few directions left unexplored, which can be frustrating to the reader. But I think that's rather realistic- in life, there are always some things we will never know.
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