“I tried to picture my mother and father, and could not recall their faces or their voices. Remembered life seemed as false to me as my name. These shadows are visible: the sleeping man, the beautiful woman, and the crying, laughing child. But just as much of real life, not merely read about in books, remains unknown to me. A mother croons a lullaby to a sleepy child. A man shuffles a deck of cards and deals a hand of solitaire. A pair of lovers unbutton one another and tumble into bed. Unreal as a dream.”
I’m not a book critic by any means, but rather a book lover, so this review of Keith Donohue’s bestselling book “The Stolen Child” comes from that perspective. (I keep wanting to misspell his name as “Donahue” as in “Phil,” but it’s Donohue with an “o.”) His work can best be described this way: Donohue writes poetry disguised as novels.
As you can see from the above excerpt, there is a certain peaceful flow to the language of the book, like a slow walk near a gentle stream in the middle of the woods. Perfect for a book about faeries.
The premise of the book is that a hobgoblin steals a child and takes his place, while the stolen child turns into and takes the place of the hobgoblin. The stolen child must then await the time when he can steal yet another child and become human again, continuing the cycle. Only every hobgoblin in his new tribe must go before him, in the order they were stolen, so he potentially has many decades of waiting ahead of him.
Much of the beginning of the book consisted largely of the internal thought processes of its 2 main characters with very little dialogue, which took some getting used to. But the dialogue and interaction increased as the book went on, mirroring the pair’s increased acceptance of and involvement in their separate lives.
Beyond faeries and hobgoblins, this book is about the two finding themselves and their places in the grand scheme of things, something everyone goes through. Only in this case, the search takes on both an emotional and literal meaning, as the imposter searches for clues to his life a century before when he himself was stolen, and the stolen child struggles to remember his life as a child as he grows more wild and goblin-like, into more of a thing of the forest than that of the human world.
Most books follow a familiar pattern, one being very similar to the next in its underlying structure. “The Stolen Child” is very different from any book I’ve read before, dictating its own patterns and rhythms. If you’re looking for something new and different to read, something well written both from a story perspective and in the beauty of the language itself, then you should go out and get this book today.
I also have to give credit to whoever did the cover artwork. As far as book covers go, a pair of eyes staring out of the forest has been done (to death), but the cover art on this book makes it new again. The blue/green color combination, shadowy middle, and sharply defined edges all come together for a striking overall effect that is beautiful, eyecatching, and complimentary to the subject of the book. Well done.