By Keith Donohue
When a child is stolen by the fairies, he remains forever a child until the time comes—maybe 100 years later—when he can take the place of another child and assume human form again. Henry Day was seven years old when he was stolen from his loving parents, and a changeling took his place. He was angry at his mother and ran away from home. The community gathered to search for the little lost boy, and there was great rejoicing when he was found. But the child they found wasn’t who they thought he was. Henry became Aniday, the youngest of the hobgoblin tribe. (Hobgoblins are fairies that have gone bad.) A changeling took his place, his family, his identity, his life. While most of the stolen children lost their memories of days past, Aniday was determined to remember as much as he could about the family he had lost and his time with them.
In this intriguing tale the changeling who became Henry Day settles into his new life. He loves this caring family, especially his adoring mother. He does a good job of slipping into Henry’s place, and no one is the wiser except perhaps his dad who is always a little suspicious that something is not quite right about Henry. He hasn’t been the same since the day he was lost for several hours in the woods. As time passes and Henry grows up, he begins to have memories of his own life as a human child before he himself was stolen by the fairies. Aniday and Henry Day narrate the story, each telling about his own search for a meaningful life and a true identity. They are both haunted by what they have lost and fearful of what the future has in store.
The Stolen Child has been characterized as a fairy tale for adults. While I am not generally drawn to fantasy literature, I was truly captured by this book. It has fantastic elements, but there is enough realism to keep it grounded in the world we know. Wow, was I surprised! I was visiting my son and looking for a book to read. He pulled this off the shelf and suggested I read it. I was very skeptical, as you may be now. Fairies, really? But it is a gripping tale, so much fun to read. I read far later into the night than was reasonable for me. It is an unusual story, and a moving narrative of family, love, loss, and a search for the truth.