Log in

No account? Create an account
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue 
19th-Oct-2007 11:09 am
Donohue, Keith. The Stolen Child. London: Jonathan Cape, 2006.
          Summary: Seven-year-old Henry Day is kidnapped by changelings and taken into the woods, where he remains, as "Aniday," in the body of a child forever. Meanwhile, the hobgoblin who replaced him is haunted by his past human life as the budding pianist Gustav. In the end, the new Henry learns that in his former life he was essentially an idiot savant, and Aniday realizes that the human life was never his to repossess. And both must come to terms with the fact that they cannot get back the past.
          Comments: Remarkable, isn't it, how you can have a 300 page book written in reasonably good prose in which very little of interest actually happens? Although nominally a fantasy, the novel spends less time with fairies, folklore, or magic than with the banalities of growing up or the "magic" of reading library books. (The shock of child/toddler-adults having sex in the second chapter doesn't even begin to compensate.) Donohue doesn't even bother to explain how creatures as unlikely as the changelings came to exist--not a hint. Although I can't help but notice that these loosely European-inspired "hobgoblins" only ever seem to kidnap children of European descent (if the backgrounds of the thirteen changelings are any indication)...even though this is taking place IN AMERICA, and there were plenty of non-whites here when the novel was supposed to take place. Riddle me that one. Hell, given the novel's denouement renouncing the sanctity of the past, you wonder what the point of it all is supposed to be in the first place! Why read about the history of two boys if the past isn't what's ultimately important? The whole thing reeks of a self-absorbed misanthrope of a white boy trying to come to terms with the bizarre fact that life in these United States is, for white boys, shockingly full of opportunity to have a "good," normal, and fulfilling life. So you'll excuse me if I'm not overwhelmed.
          Those familiar with the American edition of this novel may note that, as usual, the UK edition features entirely different (and, in my honest opinion, inferior) cover art. The boy climbing into the tree on the American edition is in fact an important scene in the novel; it's where the changelings steal the original Henry Day away, and the stark, sinister look is totally appropriate. The UK edition, on the other hand, features an image of an ethereal little girl that looks like the Virgin Mary as a child or something. I'm sure it's supposed to be Speck, Aniday's independent-minded love interest--a very deceptive cover image for a novel about two BOYS. Not to mention that the look doesn't suit the Speck of the novel in the least. This is the first time I've seen an American novel for UK audiences that's been, like, "moé-fied"...! Why, I ask, WHY???
          Notes: trade paperback, 1st UK edition
          Rating: 5/10 - If a less intelligent version of Peter Beagle were to write fantasy novels with male (as opposed to female) protagonists, the result would be something like this.
19th-Oct-2007 04:12 pm (UTC)
Donohue doesn't even bother to explain how creatures as unlikely as the changelings came to exist--not a hint.


If you were Irish, you’d just take these things for granted ^_^;
19th-Oct-2007 04:15 pm (UTC)
Even in the United States? Neil Gaiman would disagree. :P
19th-Oct-2007 04:29 pm (UTC)
The magical creatures followed us from our home island, stowaways most likely ^_^
19th-Oct-2007 04:31 pm (UTC)
Not according to this book. What little it says suggests that they were there before Columbus. Which, again, makes it disturbing that there are no non-whites among them. Black people, maybe, at least?
19th-Oct-2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
Well, there was supposedly an Irish monk who made it to North American before Columbus ^_^;

But err, yeah, as I understand it a changeling adopts the form of the person it replaces, you’d think they could manage something other than white.. Especially since most of the people here before Columbus were not Europeans!
19th-Oct-2007 04:41 pm (UTC)
Gaiman argues in American Gods that beliefs from the Old World lose their potency here. For what that's worth.

It's unclear from the novel just how far the changelings were roaming from their home base (they seemed to have super-speed powers, too), but they kept going back to one particular town. Given, though, that it sounded like coal country--there must have been blacks around, at least. ^^;;
19th-Oct-2007 04:53 pm (UTC)

Especially with the generations that come after the original immigrants I should imagine.. Though I wonder why we have so many nutty religious people then ^^;

In that recent coal mine collapse in Utah there were actually a lot of latina coal miners!
19th-Oct-2007 04:54 pm (UTC)
Noticed that a lot of the nutty religious people seem to be...err...100% American?
19th-Oct-2007 05:06 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that is true ^^; You really do notice that in the South, lots of religious fanaticism, and no Little Italys (Italies?) ^^
19th-Oct-2007 05:07 pm (UTC)
That's not what I mean. That a lot of the strangest evangelical sects (Mormons, Adventists, etc.) started HERE.?
19th-Oct-2007 05:17 pm (UTC)

And don’t forget the snake handlers ^_^;
This page was loaded May 21st 2018, 10:41 pm GMT.