by Keith Donohue
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.
Rating: 4/5 ........ 319 pages, 2006
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