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Comparing Two Books: A Fairy-Tail for Adults

Updated on August 31, 2012
fairy tale forest
fairy tale forest

I read the book “The Stolen Child” by Keith Donohue a few years ago and just recently read “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman and wanted to compare the two books since they are like adult fairy-tales, albeit a much darker type of fairy-tale.

The premise of “The Stolen Child” is about a small boy who is stolen by changelings, a type of a fairy folk that I believe could be compared to elves or gnomes.
Most of these changelings are hundreds of years old but look like children. A changeling replaces the child and integrates himself into the child’s family while the stolen child starts to be raised as a changeling.

The darker side comes into play when the book describes the changelings trying to survive in the woods outside of a small town. They do have some magic powers, but the book also details how they have to survive the wet, cold nights and the need to consistently forge for food with hunger always a concern. The changelings don't live in an idyllic paradise as we think of fairy folk told in tales as a child.

The other stark reality is how the changeling copes with trying to be the little boy he replaced, and making his new adopted family believe he is really their little boy, while at the same time the stolen child finds himself becoming a changeling and how he deals with the loss of his family.
This book takes place over many years and chronicles the emotions of both main characters as they adopt to their new positions in life and how their memories slowly fade as they each become someone else.

This is a dark but moving story that will stay with the reader long after the book is read. That being said, this is not a depressing book. This is more of a story on how life moves on and how one moves on and adjusts.

“Neverwhere” is a more whimsical tale but still has dark moments but most are tongue-in-cheek. The story takes place in the London Below, a strange world of tunnels, old train stations and sewer ducts that overlap with the London above, present day London.

The reader will find that the London Below is a mixture of fantasy with some historical facts and locations thrown into the mix. The main character is Richard Mayhew who tumbles into the Below by helping a girl he see on the street of London Above.

All Richard wants to do is get back to his life in the Above and in his quest he encounters a very odd assortment of characters including an angel that once was the protector of Atlantis and an earl whose kingdom is a moving train.

During the quest to find his way back home, Richard teams up with a couple of other characters that also have their own needs. Always in the background are two sinister characters which we meet in the opening pages where one pops a rat into his mouth and finds it quite tasty. These two characters are world-class assassins who have done away with popes, kings, queens and other prominent people.

The author never lets the darkness impede and overwhelm the story but instead, interjects a healthy dose of humor throughout the book.

Both these books are good reads and can be a refreshing change of pace to those readers that enjoy good non-fiction.


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