Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Stolen Child

"The overture teased out the symphony's four movements: awareness, pursuit, lamentation, and redemption, and at the moment when I lifted my hands from the keys and the strings took up the pizzicato to indicate the arrival of the changelings, I felt his presence nearby. The boy I could not save." - Henry Day, The Stolen Child (p. 309)

The tale of children being taken and replaced by changelings is an old one. One that I find very fascinating, to the point where I had haunted dreams of such an event taking place while I was pregnant with my first child. I still find myself trying to coax words out of my youngest when she makes weird faces I have come to lovingly call her "goblin face". Yet while I joke about it, as a mother who believes in multiple gods from long ago myths, I cannot help but feel that there may be truth in some of the stories of hobgoblins sneaking into a home to replace a child with one of their own; the parents then raising this strange child without ever knowing theirs is off in the woods, unchanged by time until they get the chance to do what was done to them. My half-belief in this myth is what drew me to The Stolen Child when I first read the synopsis. Yet this book was not what i expected.

As I have said, the tale of children and hobgoblins is old, but the way in which this book is told, from the point of view not only of the hobgoblin that took over the life of young Henry Day, but also of the child-turned-changeling who came to be known as Aniday, is one that is knew and very intriguing. Both characters became something more than the roles in which they were put, pleading for compasion and pity for the lives they had been forced into. And I was drawn to them. By the end of the book I so sympathized with Henry Day and the situation he was forced into and the choices he had to make to survive, that I felt there was no other way for these poor, lost children to live than the path they had been placed on without their consent. Yet these two boys Henry and Aniday did not fit well into the mold that tradition tried to force them into. And that is what made this story interesting.

While the plot was a bit slow in the beginning with so much telling of their everyday lives, I still found it easy to stick with and read. And I am glad I did because the story progressed in such a way that I hurried to finish and find out how things would turn out. There are points in this book that really make you stop and think, almost pushing me to reread some bits for clues that this one twist was coming or that one part would happen. And in the end I was happy with the book.

I am not saying that I loved it. But it came pretty close to making me want to hold it tight when I was finished. Instead it gained a content sigh that things had worked out exactly as they should and in the best possible fashion. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the myth of changelings. Maybe even to those that have felt out of place for most of their lives, because after seeing what this man went through to feel a part of a world he had been out of for a century, maybe your problems won't seem so outlandish.

So give the book a try and let me know how you feel about it. Meanwhile, I am going to go check on my kids and make sure they are mine.

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