Stolen Child

The Stolen Child

by Keith Donohue

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I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue.

Fairy tales, as anyone who’s read the originals knows, are hardly ever happily ever after. In the unfiltered, un-Disneyfied world of the last few centuries, we all lived at the edge of the forest, children got eaten by bears and wolves and witches, and the Little Mermaid walked on knives. Today, of course, these stories will get you tossed right out of the preschool reading circle — too scary, too dangerous, too violent — but for whom? And who needs them? When I was a kid, I was afraid of nuclear war, Richard Nixon, and DDT, I figured I could handle the witches. As we sanitize fantasy, reality gets more and more…well, real.

So what happens to fairy tale characters when we don’t need them anymore? Do they fade away like Tinkerbell? Or do they fight back to the very last?

In The Stolen Child, the worst of all parents’ fears are realized by the old story of the changeling. One day your little 7 year old is happy and carefree, the next, replaced by a horrible little monster that only looks like your child. While it does go a long way towards explaining my younger brother, these days it seems downright perverse to suspect your child might be anything except perfect. Every little Ashley, Jonah and Madison is special in their own way.

And while the 24 hour news cycles have done a good job of making children afraid of ‘stranger danger’, it’s undeniable that the monsters these days are human.

Keith Donohue’s first novel, The Stolen Child, is a beautifully dreamy meditation on growing up and leaving things behind, and looking back and reclaiming your lost self.

The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue. I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue.

In this dreamlike novel, Donohue delves into the literary tradition of the changeling child, a supernatural imposter raised in a human home. You’ll find  a lot of this in fairy tales, from Pinocchio to Peter Pan, usually describing the adventures of the child who must hide his identity and try to be a real boy. In The Stolen Child, Donohue also follows the adventures of the ageless, changeless wild children, and Aniday, whose life was stolen from him when he was seven. The other faery children are content to live in the wild, stealing what they need, but Aniday, formerly Henry Day, is obsessed with remembering, language, reading, and struggling to remain who he was. The new Henry Day spends his life trying to forget what he was, until their paths finally cross. It’s a beautiful look at memory and childhood. The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue. I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue.

If you are a parent, you know the constant drumbeat of ‘how to keep your children safe’ — on the news, in books, danger is everywhere. In this book, the danger comes from the wild faery children of the forest. Desperate to get back to human families, they switch with a real child, and the unfortunate victim must live agelessly with his new companions, slowly forgetting his original life. But the ranks of the faery children are diminishing, and in fact Henry Day, and his faery counterpart Aniday who together narrate The Stolen Child, come to realize that the world has moved on, the wild children are in more danger from curious humans, and their child stealing days may be over, making way for more contemporary dangers. Henry Day and Aniday must both let go of the past, accept their identities — in short, it’s time for the Lost Boys to grow up. It’s a moving modern fairy tale. The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue. I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue.

As a child, many of us felt like we didn’t really fit in — and probably our parents at times wondered if we’d been replaced by faeries! In this novel, Henry Day, a normal seven-year old is replaced by a changeling. His parents know in their hearts that their boy is not the same — he’s suddenly a musical prodigy for one thing — but he spends his stolen life looking over his shoulder and trying to keep his secret. As an adult, he must face his childhood — literally — when Aniday, the real boy raised by the wild folk in the woods, comes looking for answers. The wild children live like animals, quickly forgetting their human lives, but desperate to become the next changeling, because even though they don’t age, they know they have to grow up. The Stolen Child is a modern fairy tale about the memories of childhood and making the most of a life, even if it wasn’t yours to being with. The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue. I’m Kim Alexander on Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue.

When Henry Day is seven, he is kidnapped by the faery folk of the woods, and a changeling is left in his place. This novel follows the new Henry as he grows up and has a life in the real world, all the time struggling with guilt and trying to keep his secret. Aniday, the stolen child, must live with his wild companions, ageless and changeless in the woods. They steal what they need, and enjoy breaking windows and running midnight raids on rural refrigerators; it’s a little Lord of the Flies. Unlike them, his struggle is to cling to his old life, remembering language and writing his story. There is some urgency because the faery folk in The Stolen Child are disappearing, replaced by more modern childhood fears. By the end it seems the cycle of identity theft and eternal childhood is coming to a close as the two meet face to face. The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue. I’m Kim Alexander on Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


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