Friday, 3 October 2008

My Thoughts: The Stolen Child by Keith Donoghue

The Stolen Child tells the story, in alternate chapters, of two 'boys'; one a changeling who has stolen the other boys life. A group of changelings live in a forest in North East America, they were all once children who were stolen, and now live amongst the forest, scrabbling for food and warmth, whilst waiting their turn in line to become children once again.

In the 1940s they steal Henry Day, a quiet child, who is easy prey as he is feeling left out after the birth of his twin sisters. The changelings study his life and personality until an opportunity arises to steal him away. Once stolen he is wrenched from his body, and the changeling takes his place.

The changeling replacing Henry, was in a previous life an excellent musician, and when he swaps into Henry's life he is unable to hide this great talent and quickly the new Henry's life becomes filled with music lessons and practice, pretty much cutting him off from his contemporaries. This love of music also creates tension in his relationship with his father, who can never quite accept that this boy, who went from being tone deaf to pitch perfect is really his son. As a changeling imitating a child he has to remember to change his body as he grows up, and try to forget the past, something which both he and the real Henry Day struggle to do.

Through the real Henry Day, now named Aniday we see the changelings fight to survive, for food, to avoid detection and the desire to return to their previous life. One of the female changelings takes Aniday into her care, and slips him into the library each night, snuggled up amongst the books they discover friendship as well as reading a vast array of books, reminding them of human life.


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