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The Stolen Child: A Novel by Keith Donohue

The Stolen Child: A Novel (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Keith Donohue

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2,1581183,008 (3.76)141
Title:The Stolen Child: A Novel
Authors:Keith Donohue
Info:Nan A. Talese (2006), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 319 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:world-building, fantasy, character-driven, strong sense of place, changlings, identity, loss

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The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue (2006)


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Showing 1-5 of 116 (next | show all)
Great book - I would definitely recommend it. ( )
  euroclewis | Jun 8, 2016 |
Being a novel which describes the lives of a human and a member of a fairy band who steals him to replace him in the fairy world; each narrates his life in alternating chapters. It is quite difficult to review this without violating one of the narrators' prime directive: "Don't call me a fairy!" He refers to himself as a hobgoblin, and indeed his compatriots do seem to have more corporeal bodies than we usually attribute to fairies, but he calls the members of the band 'fairies'. Between this murky premise and an extremely slow-burning plot, I didn't care for this at first. However, after about a hundred wheel-spinning pages, a fairly interesting plot got to bubbling. It must be said, though, that the author and/or publisher did themselves no favors by billing this as being based on a much-loved poem by Wm. B. Yeats. The poem and the novel both feature a changeling: other similarities are few, and the novel lacks entirely the poem's sublimity. Indeed, in point of fact, if the book has a message at all, it's pretty much the opposite of the poem. This pretense frays the edges of a decent read a trifle. . ( )
  Big_Bang_Gorilla | Mar 3, 2016 |
Hobgoblins kidnap Henry Day when he is 7 years old, leaving an imposter in his place. Each Henry tries to adjust to his new life. Living in the forest with other stolen children who are also waiting to switch places, the 'real' Henry struggles to piece together fragmented memories of who he was. Meanwhile, the 'imposter' continually fears discovery and cannot forget that he is living a life that doesn’t belong to him; he eventually seeks out the truth of who he was before he too had been stolen and exiled to live in the forest as a hobgoblin (long before he stole Henry's life). Their quests to each recapture their true identities eventually converge.

Very interesting story of the Changeling myth and the struggle to discover and shape our identities as we move from childhood to adulthood. A story of how you become someone else entirely as you leave childhood behind --- though this was accomplished with hobgoblin taking over the child's life, and the child was exiled to the forest with other stolen children waiting for their chance to capture a life for themselves. ( )
  SaraMSLIS | Jan 26, 2016 |
While it's almost academic in tone, I found the story compelling. It was an intimate take on a lesser-known aspect of fantasy - a hobgoblin stealing and replacing a child. The idea of the hobgoblin and the child growing up in their different environments, and having those environments shape who they are - it kept me turning the pages. ( )
  Malora | Jan 18, 2016 |
The Stolen Child is the story of a boy that was kidnapped by changelings and the changeling that replaced him. It is told in chapters alternating between the perspective of the boy that has become one of the changelings, who live stuck in time, and the changeling that replaced him, who has finally returned to society. It was a great story that made the reader think of deeper issues such as identity and truth. The book moved a little slow for me, I found it easy to put down, but overall it is a unique story told in a beautiful way. It is a fantasy novel that I think could be enjoyed by those that do not usually read the genre. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 17, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Keith Donohueprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Paris, AndyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodman, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory. -"Nostos" by Louise Gluck
For Dorothy and Thomas, wish you were here
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Don't call me a fairy.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385516169, Hardcover)

Editorial Reviews
Keith Donohue's sparkling debut novel was first presented by the publisher as a "bedtime story for adults." Intrigued by comparisons to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and The Confessions of Max Tivoli, we dipped into the book, only to find ourselves transported into a strange and wonderfully rich story--a perfect blend of literary fantasy and realism that kept us captivated until the very end. Find out what our top reviewers have to say about The Stolen Child, and hear from Keith Donohue about about the origins of the story below. --The Editors

Early Buzz From Amazon.com Top Reviewers
We queried our top 100 reviewers as of April 6, and asked them to read The Stolen Child and share their thoughts. We've included these early reviews below in the order they were received. For the sake of space, we've only included a brief excerpt of each reviewer's response, but each review is available for reading in its entirety by clicking the "Read the review" link. Enjoy!

Harriet Klausner: "Keith Donohue writes a great novel that will have readers debating the impact of nurturing and naturing as both Henrys adapt and adjust, but never feel whole. This is a fantastic fantasy that readers will enjoy immensely." Read Harriet Klausner's review

W. Boudville: "An updated and realistic Peter Pan. Keith Donohue has produced an exquisite first novel. Exceedingly polished prose with a compelling and original twist on a classic theme." Read W. Boudville's review

John Kwok: "Inspired by the W. B. Yeats poem "The Stolen Child", Keith Donohue's novel of the same title is a fine addition to the fantasy literature genre, yet told with the ample realism one expects from great works of mainstream literature." Read John Kwok's review

A. Joseph Haschka: "The Stolen Child is a fairy tale for adults that transcends standard fare. An ingeniously crafted tale about hobgoblins, is a coming of age story and one about identities both lost and found." Read A. Joseph Haschka's review

Robert Morris: "Donohue brilliantly explores all manner of themes, many of which are found in the most popular fairy tales and nursery rhymes (e.g. fear of separation from one’s family, especially from parents). " Read Robert Morris's review

Donald Mitchell: "What would it like to be adopted and have your head full of fantasies? It might feel very much like this story. However, I think a story about an adopted child without the parallel changeling world would have been more interesting. Perhaps I lack a sense of romance and sympathy for the strivings of the dispossessed. If so, the fault is mine, not that of the story." Read Donald Mitchell's review

Joanna Daneman: "I found the writing stunningly simple and gripping. Within minutes, I was completely drawn into this book. I am a very finicky fiction reader, and I was delighted by Donohue's incredibly ability to make sensory experiences real, to make conversations flow naturally and logically--yet leading to surprise after surprise." Read Joanna Daneman's review

Charles Ashbacher: "The book moves back and forth between the two Henry's, how the substitute Henry handles his assimilation into human society and how the original adapts to the society that kidnapped him. It is an interesting story, as both "boys" have different perspectives on the life of a "growing" boy." Read Charles Ashbacher's review

Lawyeraau: "This haunting and beautifully written debut novel had me compulsively turning its pages. I simply could not put it down! The author has created a fantasy world that exists on the cusp of the consciousness of humans. It is a world that is the stuff of fairy tales, only the author has turned it into one that is fitting for adults." Read Lawyeraau's review

Gail Cooke: "It has been called magical, beguiling, remarkable, and vividly imagined. The Stolen Child is all of that, and much more. Keith Donohue's debut novel is an intriguing mix of imagination and reality, a story that reminds us of the joys of being human and the transcendency of love." Read Gail Cooke's review

Grady Harp: "Longing to belong is but one of the essential facts of life that author Keith Donohoe weaves into his debut novel, The Stolen Child, a stunning work of fiction that brings alive an ages old myth involving faeries, hobgoblins, changelings and magical transformations to confront contemporary readers with food for thought about being careful of what you wish for!" Read Grady Harp's review

Lee Carlson: "The story is as much a celebration of memory as it is in belaboring its mysteries. Every character acts in concert to remind the reader of the subtlety of memory along with its power." Read Lee Carlson's review

Daniel Jolley: "Keith Donohue has brought forth a magical debut novel full of insights into childhood and adulthood and the seemingly endless longing that largely defines both. He conjures a world of ancient legend and places it on the outskirts of modern civilization, thereby casting an insightful eye upon both." Read Daniel Jolley's review

An Autobiographical Note from Keith Donohue

My dad used to call me, the middle child of seven, "the youngest of the oldest, and the oldest of the youngest." Being dead smack in the middle of a large Irish American family, it is no wonder that I have felt like a changeling myself now and again. We were just like the Kennedys, without the money or the power.

We lived in a cramped yellow house at the bottom of a steep hill in Pittsburgh. Climbing that street as a small child was like hiking up a mountain, but it instilled a sense of ambition and determination. In the mid-Sixties, we moved to Southern Maryland, to a town so small that there was but a single commercial crossroads with a High's Dairy Store across from Ben Franklin's Five and Dime Store. There were still enough woods and swampland available to allow for hours of exploration and getting lost nearly every day.

On a whim, I went back to Pittsburgh for college and began to write in earnest at Duquesne University, studying under the Pennsylvania state laureate poet Sam Hazo, and putting myself through school through two creative writing scholarships. My dream was to be a novelist, but there weren't any openings.

Upon graduation, and being unable to find a job in the city, I moved back to the Washington area to work for the National Endowment for the Arts, answering the mail for the chairman of the agency. Within four years, I was writing speeches for a new and different chairman, a job I held for the eight years that coincided with what some have called the culture wars. I wrote for the freedom of expression crowd.

Off hours, I went back to school, earned a doctorate in English literature, specializing in modern Irish literature. After stints working on federal child care policy and as a cultural policy analyst, I circled round again to that steep hill and wrote The Stolen Child, figuring that if I was to become that novelist, the time had come to stop dreaming and simply climb.

I'm married, have four children, and am back working at a small embattled agency that gives grants to archives across the country to preserve and publish the records of the American experience. In my spare time, I'm writing another novel about myths in America.

The Story Behind the Story

The very first image that came to me when I began The Stolen Child was of a young boy hiding in a hollow tree, face pressed against its wooden ribs, determined not to be found by anyone. His defiant wish to be alone struck me as a universal gesture--a striking out for independence that children make when frustrated by the confines of childhood. When the changelings come and get that boy, he becomes a victim of his own imagination. He is stolen away by his own worst nightmare.

As concerned as I was about the boy hiding in the tree, I also knew that I wanted to write about an adult struggling to remember the dreams of childhood. He had to be as trapped and frustrated by the strictures of his adulthood. And in order for any drama to exist, these two emotional states must clash.

That's why there are two narrators telling two intertwined stories--one adult trying to remember his "stolen" childhood and one child trapped in time at age seven. Since the conflict is primarily between the grown-up Henry Day and the child Aniday, the story needed some way to make both characters alive, have parallel and mirroring lives, joys and challenges, and allow them to confront one another. I needed some way to make the metaphorical be literal.

That's where the changeling folk myth came in. Changelings and faeries have been around for eons in virtually every culture. They are the mysterious beings flitting around the corner of the imagination, and in many places, faeries and changelings have the reputation of breaking into homes and replacing babies and young children with replicas. Or luring children away from their homes to come live in the wild and become part of their unaging magical tribe. The child is stolen by the faeries, and the faery changeling "becomes" the child.

In reality, the legend grew from real human predicaments dealing primarily with the inability of some parents to care for children with a failure to thrive. They explained away the unwanted children by claiming that they were not human at all, that the changelings had come and stolen their child and left one of their own in its place. Having a changeling rather than a real human made it much easier for parents to get rid of such a child.

Through our wild imaginations and fear of the dark and unknown, the changeling myth evolved into a spooky story. Careful, kid, or the changelings will come get you. Or, conversely, as an explanation for why you're so different from all the rest of the kids; you're actually a changeling.
"The Stolen Child" by William Butler Yeats, is one of the more well-known literary uses of folk legend to comment on the real world. Reading the poem, we get caught up in those wonderful images of "hidden faery vats" and the faeries "whispering to the slumbering trout," but then Yeats gives us, in the final stanza, an idea of the family life that the stolen child is leaving behind. But away he goes, "from a world more full of weeping than he can understand."

How perfect for a story about what it's like to be seven and to remember being seven.

So I asked myself: What if we make the changelings real? What if we have the boy out in the woods with a band of faeries, the flip side of the real world? What if he is replaced by a changeling who can grow up and become the adult, who fools everyone into thinking that he is indeed the real Henry Day, when he knows all along that the authentic Henry is out there in the woods?

That's when the fun began. The two narrators' stories spiraling around and interlocking like a Celtic knot. The changeling who steals Henry Day's life gradually realizes that he, too, was a real human boy once upon a time. He, too, was a stolen child and must struggle to dredge up that childhood and deal with his dreams and his own weeping world. The real Henry Day--now known as Aniday among the faeries--faces what it means to be a part of a fading folk myth at the latter half of the 20th century, and the struggle that all children have coming to terms with their mortality, leaving family behind, and leaving childhood behind in order to find some speck of love, happiness, and the road ahead.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:13 -0400)

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Creativity and innovation are widely recognized as essential to success in business, and so many aspects of our lives. For over two decades, Cirque du Soleil has been a world-renowned laboratory of creativity, enthralling audiences around the world by fusing dazzling acrobatics, staging and choreography, and music, along with beautiful costumes and technical effects to inspire and create magical, almost otherworldly theatrical experiences. In THE SPARK, Cirque's former president of creative content, Lyn Heward, invites readers inside the world and ideas of Cirque du Soleil through the story of an ordinary man searching for meaning in his work and life. An inspiring tale that draws on behind-the-scenes stories from the most creative people in entertainment as well as some out-of-this-world Cirque du Soleil magic, THE SPARK is an unparalleled guide on how to make creativity a part of everything you do.… (more)

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