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The Stolen Child: A Novel Paperback – February 7, 2017
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“Vividly and soulfully described, love and curses, roiling in a supernatural stew, bring about the large and small calamities that will render St. Brigid’s uninhabitable. Magical realism of the best kind, utterly devoid of whimsy. ” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Steeped in the otherworldly...Carey has written a mesmerizing tale about motherhood, superstition, betrayal, and the porous boundary between the real and the magical.” (Booklist)
“Returning to the magic found in Carey’s The Mermaids Singing, her newest release will enchant readers. Reminiscent of works by Susanna Kearsley and Lauren Willig, this is a good choice for those who are interested in Irish lore and the feminine mystique.” (Library Journal)
“Haunting...It’s a brave author who names their book after a Yeats poem. But Carey’s understated tale of complex women living complex lives is steeped in the strange, chilly tone of the 19th century verse.” (SFX)
“Fans of Gothic intrigue have a treat in store. THE STOLEN CHILD by Lisa Carey has all the right ingredients for a good yarn: a windswept island, a jealous twin and a woman in search of a miracle.” (Good Housekeeping, UK)
“There is magic realism of a fine order in this book, and it works. The sheep tracks over the wild hillsides, the crumbling cottages, the fierce elements, the austere grandeur: all are beautifully caught. Carey has a great ear for the Irish vernacular, the music of the speech; and the domestic scenes and exchanges are excellent.” (The Guardian)
“[Carey’s] distinctive voice shines throughout The Stolen Child, which casts a spell upon the reader in its opening prologue and does not let go until the final devastating moments.” (Irish Times)
“Carey employs a generous dose of magic realism to leave you guessing, crafting a dark, devastating fairy tale that will keep you up into the wee hours. The Stolen Child is beautifully written, well-paced, and at times heartbreakingly bleak […] you get an intoxicating sense of the island as you read. […] An enchanting, razor-edged expoloration of desire, belonging,motherhood, and the bonds between family.” (Irish Independent )
“Carey paints an ethereally vivid picture of a legend drenched in fear, betrayal, love, and desire—proof of her lyrical genius. Carey’s bewitching novel—which is as beautiful as it is savage and as dark and mystical as it is surprising—[I’d] read again in a heartbeat.” (Stylist (UK))
“The all-nighter read…THE STOLEN CHILD does what few tales dare to—get inside your head and refuse to leave...This is a captivating, eerily beautiful tome; full of mistrust, dark magic, and superstition.” (Image Magazine)
“With some artful weaving of fact and fiction, history and legend, harsh reality and Celtic myth, Carey has created an elegant and deeply evocative work of fiction. Although the story is drenched in sea spray and heavy with the perfume of island heather, this is no idyllic ramble. THE STOLEN CHLD…is beautifully written and has all the page-turning ingredients of a psychological thriller, along with a large dollop of distinctly Irish-flavoured magical realism.” (Sunday Independent)
“A powerful, bewitching gothic tale of betrayal, superstition, and desire.” (The Lady Magazine)
“Steeped in dark Irish mythology, THE STOLEN CHILD is a piercing exploration of regret and desire, longing and love. It is a gorgeously written, inventive, and compelling novel.” (Ayelet Waldman, author of LOVE AND TREASURE )
“St Brigid’s Island is the sinister, seductive home to several individualistic, spiky women. These women know that their world is peopled with more than can be seen and they collude with and push against those sources, often with frightening results. THE STOLEN CHILD is a gorgeously written book about female bonds and the ferocious pull of motherhood. Compelling, eerie and beautiful.” (Nuala O'Connor, author of MISS EMILY)
“Oh, my! I could not help but surrender to Lisa Carey’s dark, dazzling, quintessentially Irish plot, her lush prose, and her magical, gratifying ending. THE STOLEN CHILD is completely and utterly ravishing.” (Monica Wood, author of THE ONE-IN-A-MILLION BOY, WHEN WE WERE THE KENNEDYS, and ANY BITTER THING)
“THE STOLEN CHILD is captivating - savage and tender, with a deep respect for the transcendent truths that lie in human pain. It grabs you, shakes you to your core and keeps you turning those pages. Leaving you reeling, sated and in love with its characters, landscape and utterly believable magic.” (Mia Gallagher, author of HELLFIRE and BEAUTIFUL PICTURES OF THE LOST HOMELAND)
“Some books set up house inside your soul. THE STOLEN CHILD is one such book. Utterly magnificent.” (M.R. Carey, author of THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS)
“Startling, bewitching and new; the world of Lisa Carey’s THE STOLEN CHILD is less a tiny island than a multi-layered universe. Fierce and vivid in its portrayals of community, superstition, sexuality and the human need to believe and to connect, it’s a novel which resists sentiment and instead plunges into the visceral quick of myth and legend, while keeping a clear and intelligent eye on the reality of how people are. Carey’s women in particular are unforgettable: this is a novel to devour.” (Belinda McKeon, author of TENDER)
From the Back Cover
May 1959. From one side of St. Brigid’s Island, the mountains of Connemara are faintly visible on the distant mainland; from the other, the Atlantic stretches as far as the eye can see. This remote settlement, without electricity or even a harbor, has scarcely altered for centuries. Those who live there, including sisters Rose and Emer, are hardy and resourceful, dependent on the sea and each other for survival. Despite the island’s natural beauty, it is a place that people move away from, not to—until an outspoken American, also named Brigid, arrives to claim her late uncle’s cottage.
Brigid has come for more than an inheritance. She’s seeking a holy well that’s rumored to grant miracles, but the islanders won’t admit that it exists. Emer, as scarred and wary as Rose is beautiful and friendly, has good reason to believe in inexplicable powers. Despite her own strange abilities—or perhaps because of them—Emer fears that she won’t be able to save her young son, Niall, from a growing threat. As months pass and Brigid carves out a place on the island and in the sisters’ lives, a complicated web of betrayal, fear, and desire culminates in one shocking night that will change the island, and its inhabitants, forever.
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Top Customer Reviews
In pitch-perfect language, Carey wields dialogue specific to the west coast of Ireland’s desolate environs. It is an understated language, upside down to outsiders, but once your ear attunes, you are affronted by the superfluousness of other tongues. All primary characters in The Stolen Child are women. They live cut-off from the mainland of Ireland’s west coast, twelve miles out, upon rocky, wind-swept, St. Brigid’s Island, during the one year time frame of May, 1959 to May, 1960. It is a timeframe fraught with the looming inevitability of the islanders’ evacuation from their homeland, with its generational customs and ties, to the stark reality of life on the mainland, with its glaring and soulless “mod-cons.” Most of the characters are conflicted about leaving the island, save for the sinister Emer, who has her own selfish agenda, centered upon her only child Niall. Her sister, Rose, is the sunny, earth-mother, unflappable sort, who only sees the buried good in Emer, whereas everyone one else on the island shuns her, for her malefic, dark ways, which they intuit as dark art. Emer has one foot on the island and the other in the recesses of the fairies’ manipulative underworld. It is the American “blow-in,” Brigid, the woman with a complicated past, who has her own ties to the island from her banished mother, that cracks the carapace of Emer’s guarded and angry countenance. Together, the pair explore an illicit relationship, but when it snaps back, Emer retaliates with a force that effects the entire island and twists her worst fears into fate.
The Stolen Child is magnificently crafted, for it is a sweeping story set on a cloistered island, which has nothing to recommend it save for its quays, its view, and its eponymous holy-well. This is a novel rife with character study that is quintessentially Irish, yet applicable far afield. In themes of motherhood, hope, desperation, and hopelessness, the characters take what little they have and wrestle it into making do. It is the power of steel intention that drives this story, and the reader receives it from all conceivable angles. I recommend The Stolen Child to all who love Ireland, to all who love an exceptional, creative story, and to all who love language used at its finest. All praise to the author Lisa Carey. I eagerly await the next book.
First, the language and visuals are utterly gorgeous. Richly drawn setting, dark and nuanced feelings, so much visceral, bodily action. In practically every paragraph I marked the margins for a sentence that absolutely stunned me.
Second, the novel is populated with a net of strong, complex women. Yes, this book passes the Bechdel test and then some. So many different balances of power between the women to shift and surprise you over the course of the book.
Third, the history behind the secluded island community that drives the story here is so intriguing. I found myself so worked up about knowing the'd have to leave the island (it's revealed in the prologue), that I sometimes had to step away. It seemed so hard to imagine how they'd continue to exist without the energy of the island beneath their feet, so alive is Carey's sense of place.
Fourth, the plot is absolutely riveting. Carey does a masterful job of marking time in this book. I missed my bus stop and put off prepping for classes and asked a friend with whom I was sharing a hotel room to wait just a minute (that ended up being many more) before talking to me while I finished a section. This is where the element of being introduced to something unexpected comes in, too. I had not been one to pick up a book that touted mystical powers or fairies as major elements of the story, but this book showed me I should not be so closed-minded. In Carey's hands, those details are handled with such grace and proficiency and deepen the meaning and resonance of the story so much that I felt willing to trust in a way I hadn't before, and the payoff is truly worth that trust.
I'm so eager to dive into Carey's back catalog now, and so grateful this book came to me at the time it did. I recommend it highly.