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“I am a changeling–a word that describes within its own name what we are bound and intended to do. We kidnap a human child and replace him or her with one of our own. . . .”
The double story of Henry Day begins in 1949, when he is kidnapped at age seven by a band of wild childlike beings who live in an ancient, secret community in the forest. The changelings rename their captive Aniday and he becomes, like them, unaging and stuck in time. They leave one of their own to take his place, an imposter who must try–with varying success–to hide his true identity from the Day family. As the changeling Henry grows up, he is haunted by glimpses of his lost double and by vague memories of his own childhood a century earlier. Narrated in turns by Henry and Aniday, The Stolen Child follows them as their lives converge, driven by their obsessive search for who they were before they changed places in the world.
Moving from a realistic setting in small-town America deep into the forest of humankind’s most basic desires and fears, this remarkable novel is a haunting fable about identity and the illusory innocence of childhood.
“Utterly absorbing...The Stolen Child is an impressive double act, a fine example of what the French call the fantastique—an intrusion into realism, a leak from the supernatural world into this one.... On the surface, Keith Donohue may seem to have written a clever debut novel about fairies. But the real triumph of the book is that, while our backs are turned, he has performed a switch and delivered a luminous and thrilling novel about our humanity.”—The Washington Post Book World
“The Stolen Child is a novel of great power and sadness, a fairy tale about the pain of growing up. Donohue’s prose is so spare and unsentimental that it's impossible not to be moved.... The Stolen Child is a wonderful, fantasy-laden debut, and looks poised to become a word-of-mouth bestseller.” —Newsweek
“The book gains unexpected force as the plots converge.... It culminates in a torrent of emotion.” —The New York Times
“Keith Donohue manages something like an eyes-open return to childhood in his magical and powerful debut novel, The Stolen Child. It is an unsettling and gorgeously written tale of two boys who are forced out of their childhoods too early. Their struggles to return will rend your heart.” —Detroit Free Press
“Fascinating... 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.... Anidays’s story is set in the cool forest where the forever children live off the lush land except for forays into town to steal supplies and perform random acts of mischief. It is a world threatened by civilization, an encroachment that pushes the present and former Henrys toward each other. Both sides of this story are poignant and beautifully told.” —USA Today
“In a world where fable and the fabulous have been drained of their punch and vitality by Disney and its cohorts, Donohue’s novel comes as a poignant reminder that childhood’s age of innocence is just as illusory as, well, the world of hobgoblins and fairies. Aniday and Henry Day, like humans the world over, are plagued by questions of identity and belonging. In this unusual and compelling debut novel, Donohue borrows from a long tradition of fairy tales to portray the all-too-human story of their search for home and a family to call their own.” —The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Rare and charming... Donohue weaves a story so enchanting you’d swear he sprinkled the pages with, well, fairy dust.... Donohue has done the remarkable in fashioning an inaugural effort that fairly begs the term ‘classic.’ Indeed, it’s tempting to compare his work here to that of Barrie, Baum, and even Tolkien—not just as a fanciful exploration of childhood surrendered, but for its visual imagery and magic prose. But that simply wouldn't be fair since The Stolen Child stands tall of its own accord.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“The Stolen Child is shot through with the pretty melancholy of being human: for Henry Day, the misery of faking it, and for Aniday the wistfulness of missing it. Donohue manages to breathe new life into familiar experiences, which leaves you feeling that maybe magic is more human than the old myths would have it.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“The Stolen Child’s emotional impact is as fierce as the imagination behind it. The result is magical—in the best sense of the word.”—People Magazine
“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
“Take that, Bilbo Baggins! Donohue’s sparkling debut especially delights because, by surrounding his fantasy with real-world, humdrum detail, he makes magic believable.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A haunting debut... Donohue keeps the fantasy as understated as the emotions of the characters, while they work through their respective growing pains. The result is an impressive novel of outsiders whose feelings of alienation are more natural than supernatural.”—Publishers Weekly
“A haunting, unusual first novel.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Donohue is a poet of loneliness, the outdoors and the life-changing power of art and love. His characters are expertly etched and deeply affecting. Readers of The Stolen Child will recall these vivid creatures long after they vanish into the shadow realm of memory and myth.” —The Tampa Tribune