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Debut novelist Keith Donohue accomplishes one thing unusually well here and succumbs to one frequent difficulty in a book that's rather impressive on balance. Drawing from the poem, The Stolen Child (W. B. Yeats, 1886), he tells the story of a group of faeries who steal a young boy, Henry Day, and substitute one of their own number for him in the human world. He then follows both boys, each of whom is estranged from his new life and haunted by the displacement. Even for a veteran fantasy writer it would be impressive to establish and maintain a distinctive narrative tone as well as Mr. Donohue does here. He provides a strong sense of magic in the background without ever resorting to the tricks and spells of say a Harry Potter novel. You couldn't call the story realistic, but he somehow makes it plausible at least within the four corners of the book. He also manages to cloak the whole in an atmosphere of ineffable sadness without ever quite slipping over the edge into the merely morose. We especially empathize with Henry Day's father, who can never bring himself to love the "new" Henry, even as he can't know that the changeling isn't really his own son.

All that said though, while Mr. Donohue offers up a terrific scenario he doesn't demonstrate as sure a hand in developing a plot. After the initial ideas are developed -- in particular he touches upon the notion that legends like that of the changeling may be a function of parents who didn't much like their own kids -- he doesn't seem to know what to do with the characters, mood, and setting he created. As a result, I found my attention flagging about halfway through the book and was left dissatisfied by the conclusion. There's enough here that's worthwhile to recommend this book, but one suspects that Mr. Donohue will do even better in the future.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (B)

  

Websites:

Keith Donohue Links:

    -Keith Donohue (Wikipedia)
    -BOOK SITE: The Stolen Child (Random House)
    -BOOK SITE: The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue (Nan Talese)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: with Keith Donohue (Eye on Books)
    -INTERVIEW: Interview with Keith Donohue (BookBrowse)
    -PROFILE: Changeling tale brings change of life to author (Bob Hoover, 5/16/06, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
    -The Stolen Child (Wikipedia)
    -READING GUIDE: The Stolen Child (Borders)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue (Regis Behe, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (Janet Maslin, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (Susan Kelly, USA TODAY)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (BookBrowse)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (Raina Kelley, Newsweek)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (Monsters & Critics)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (Daniel Jolley, Rambles.NET)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (Marta Salij, Gannett News Service)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (Tasha Robinson, AV Club)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (Kim Alexander, Fiction Nation)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (REBECCA STROPOLI, BookPage)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (Gary Whitehouse, Green Man Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (AMANDA HENRY, Tampa Bay Online)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (Publishers' Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of The Stolen Child (Kim Covert, Maclean's)

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