Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Stolen Child :: Keith Donohue



I've been wracking my brains trying to think of a good book that I've read recently that is 1) not widely read (at least I don't think so, or not yet) and 2) I haven't already rambled about on my own blog. Then I remembered this little jewel.

I read The Stolen Child last year, when it first came out in hardcover - note that the softcover is different, as it probably didn't do too well.

The story follows a very interesting premise based on a Yeats poem of the same name. A child named Henry Day is taken deep into the woods and swapped for a changeling who has the ability to change his features to match anyone's. As this changeling assumes the life of Henry Day, growing over time and experiencing life, Henry Day becomes known as Anniday, and slowly succumbs and adapts to life with the other changelings in the woods, forgetting his past, and biding his time until he too, will be able to swap with another child's place.

The narrative follows both the fake Henry Day and the real, now Anniday, as they move through the lives that are not theirs, and as each begin to question who they were before they were changelings, and search for answers that will give them permanency.

The novel isn't the best written thing I've ever read. Sometimes I felt it could be tighter in its prose, and sometimes I felt that the plot itself could have been tightened up a little. But there are moments in this book where I felt a genuine anguish for these characters and the lives that have been ripped from them, and for the people around them whose lives have, knowingly or unknowingly been altered. The plot is so inventive that I can't help but be interested, and I want to know how it could possibly turn out for them, caught in a situation where they can't possibly win. I'm a sucker for multiple POV storylines like this, for plots involving switches and secrets, and the added "woodland magic faerieland" aspect to it only makes it more fun for me. Don't read expecting the great American novel, but I think it's an entertaining read.

4 comments:

knicksgrl0917 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
angelle said...

who is knicksgrl and why won't she leave my posts alone?!?!?

moonrat said...

yeah, i don't know who she is. sorry.

but i think it's funny that you say you're a sucker for multiple POV stories. i actually hate them--i get really annoyed. i always sit there thinking, i just spent all this time getting to know this character!! why are you tearing me away?!

also, some less accomplished writers don't manage to distinguish among their narrators. then i get annoyed.

i think one of the few multiple POV books i enjoyed was THE HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG, although that was almost a feat of method-writing. one of the three characters is Iranian, and speaks [writes] in english that mimics Iranian grammar structures (eg, "I bought for my wife a present...").

in the case of Andre Dubus III, the plot/premise was complex and enjoyable, and the rotating narrator was the single detraction.

homeinkabul said...

I really liked this book. it was a quick read and gave me the heebie-jeebies. I kept thinking that the goblins would come take me away - and I'm THIRTY.

I think your review is spot on. It lagged a bit but I, too, felt anguish about the characters.

You should mention that pregnant women or parents of small children should NOT read this. Or people with over-active imaginations.