The Stolen Child, Keith Donohue

Don’t call me a fairy.  We don’t like to be called fairies anymore….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 hobgoblin becomes the child, and the child becomes a hobgoblin.  Not any boy or girl will do, but only those rare souls baffled by their young lives or attuned to the weeping troubles of this world.  The changelings select carefully, for such opportunities might come along only once a decade or so.  A child who becomes part of our society might have to wait a century before his turn in the cycle arrives, when he can become a changeling and reenter the human world.

Recommended by: A Life in Books

The Stolen Child is about the lives of the changeling who takes the place of Henry Day in the human world, and the child who becomes Aniday in the changeling world.  They are both writing.  It is quite cool.

There are so many things you could do wrong with a plot like this, and Mr. Donohue steers clear of most of these things; or if he doesn’t quite steer clear of them, he has the excellent sense not to linger on them.  Like: Henry Day in the human world becomes paranoid and insane (but just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you).  I think insanity must be so much more fun to write about than to read about.  I am not a fan of crazy person stories, “The Tell-Tale Heart” being an exception (but it is brief!), so I was glad that he didn’t properly Descend Into Madness.  I was also glad that the whole plotline of the fairies frantically trying to find a place to live didn’t go on for too long, because it got boring fastishly.

This wasn’t one of those books that you can’t put down – unlike with Looking for Alaska, I had no problem closing this book at the end of a chapter and going to sleep – but it had its own appeal.  It was somewhat wistful, which I am in favor of, and although the fairies could easily have been soulless and aggravating (pitfall alert! and well played, Mr. Donohue), in the end they were endearing and melancholy.

Actually melancholy is a good word.  This is a melancholy book.  It creates a mood.  Now I am melancholy. But I liked this book.

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