The Stolen Child by Lisa Carey
The Stolen Child is a heartbreaking and mysterious novel set on a remote island off the west coat of Ireland. It is about two very different sisters, Emer and Rose, who are part of the dwindling community on the island, and how their lives are affected when an American stranger, Brigid, comes to live amongst them. The narrative is difficult to adequately summarise, a epic set over just a year between 1959 and 1960, but it broadly follows what happens to make the community finally make the move to the mainland. The novel is focused primarily upon the characters, particularly Emer and her relationship with Brigid, and the world, religious, magical, and remote, in which they live.
There is a captivating element of the novel, with Carey positioning it and its events in a world where sidhe magic and religious miracles seem equally plausible, where blame, regret, and love are all complicated by the island setting, by magic, and by the belief in powers greater than humans. At the same time, The Stolen Child focuses a lot on the human and physical, on childbirth and desire, on physical isolation and the power of nature, but also on physical powers enhanced by unknown forces. This gives it a unique quality, a novel which both addresses very real emotions and difficulties whilst creating a world with rules perhaps beyond our own. The prose bolsters this world through detailed description and a straightforward yet somehow mystical tone and the use of Yeats quotes (and title) adds to the poetic feel of the novel.
The Stolen Child is the kind of novel that brings a whole minuscule universe into existence and then sets the reader within it. One for anyone who likes novels full of emotion, an undercurrent of belief, and characters caught in a savage and remote world.