The Stolen Child (2007)
4.5 out of 5
The Stolen Child is Keith Donahue’s enchanting debut novel that’s part-fairy tale, part coming of age story. One afternoon after running away from home, a seven year old boy named Henry Day hides in a tree. Soon he is found, stripped, and tied up by a band of children, who he later finds out are changelings. One of the changeling takes his place in the real world becoming Henry Day and goes undetected, while the new member of the group is named “Aniday” and has to live in the forest and learn the ways of the faeries. After many years Henry Day realized that he too, was a human boy at one time and tries to find out about his lost family, stolen from him by the changelings. Both Henry Day and Aniday are going through life trying to figure out how they are and how to their the lives they have been given.
I love how much folklore Donohue found and invented about changelings. If you don’t know changelings are fairies that take children, leaving one of their own in the child’s place or something else like a log. Some folklore have changelings down as trolls or other “earthly beings”.
I really liked this book and it’s now on my top ten list for books that I read this year. This was my second attempt in reading it and it proved to be worth it. I was hooked from the first sentence “Don’t call me a fairy“, and spent almost every waking moment reading this book until I finished. Donohue did such a good job describing the everyday life of a changeling, changeling folklore, the aftermath of the switch between changeling and human, and what happens when the world changes and no longer needs folklore or the creatures who created it. What surprised me is that I grew to love almost every character in the book. One of the characters I couldn’t love was the changeling Henry Day. He was one dimension until the end. I think Donohue showed with such skill Henry Day as a changeling that lived the fairy ways for more than a century before he made the switch with Aniday, and then had to figure out how to be human again. It’s only at the end of the story that both Henry and Aniday find their humanity and also peace.
My fourth read for the Once Upon a Time 2 challenge.