Synopsis

July 22, 2014

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.

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Spirited Away

The Washington Post review by Graham Joyce July 6, 2006

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. 

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The lost boys

Detroit Free Press review by Marta Salij May 21, 2006

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.

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The AV Club

The AV Club review by Tasha Robinson, May 30, 2006

Like Graham Joyce’s The Tooth Fairy or Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, The Stolen Child is the kind of mainstream fantasy that takes place at the borders of recognizable reality; Donohue’s beautifully evocative prose channels some of Yeats’ poetic whimsy, but he stays grounded in convincing relationships on both sides of that border, and his style is more modern literary classic than fairytale fluff.

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