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
- 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.