KEITH DONOHUE's first novel, The Stolen Child, was a New York Times bestseller. For many years a ghostwriter, he now works at a federal governmental agency in Washington, D.C. He has published short stories and literary criticism, most recently an introduction to the collected works of Flann O'Brien. Donohue holds a Ph.D. in English from the Catholic University of America.
Tweaking some thematic elements of his previous novel, The Stolen Child, Donohoe now tells the story of Norah, a nine-year-old who appears on the doorstep of Margaret Quinn, a widow living a solitary existence in a small Pennsylvania town in 1985. Margaret eagerly takes in Norah to make up for the loss of her own daughter, Erica, who disappeared 10 years earlier after running away to join the Angels of Destruction, a West Coast revolutionary group. Margaret passes off Norah as her granddaughter and enrolls her in school, where Norah becomes friendly with a boy who's been abandoned by his father. Complications ensue when Margaret's sister arrives and has to be convinced that Norah is Erica's daughter. Sandwiched between the story of Margaret and Norah's unusual relationship is the flashback narrative of teenage Erica's road adventures with her boyfriend on their way to join the Angels of Destruction. Norah's unexplained origins form the enigmatic core of this story, and though she comes across as more of a novelistic conceit than a flesh and blood character, the novel movingly illustrates the quest for connection hardwired into every human heart. (Mar.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
After his best-selling debut, The Stolen Child, Donohue has written a second novel about an uncanny child. This time, a mysterious girl named Norah shows up at a doorstep of a lonely old woman in the middle of winter. She takes the girl in, telling the neighborhood that Norah is her granddaughter, the child of the daughter who went missing ten years before. Norah brings happiness to many of the people she meets but disturbs others with her assertion that she is an angel sent to bring a message of destruction. What happened to the missing daughter becomes clear eventually, but other mysteries remain unsolved in this strange and finely written novel. Donohue has a talent for using small details to draw his characters, and the result is a dark and unsettling story that takes hold of the reader. Recommended for libraries with collections of literary and fantastical fiction. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/08.]-Jenne Bergstrom, San Diego Cty. Lib. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Praise for ANGELS OF DESTRUCTION
"Norah's unexplained origins form the enigmatic core of this story . . . the novel movingly illustrates the quest for connection hardwired into every human heart."
"[A] strange and finely written novel. Donohue has a talent for using small details to draw his characters, and the result is a dark and unsettling story that takes hold of the reader."
"Fused with spectral imagery and magnetic characters, Donohue's ethereal foray into the unexpected consequences of love, impenetrable depths of loss, and infinite possibilities of faith is a chilling yet affirmative experience."
"[A] beguiling tale of those who love well, but not wisely, unspooling like a poem embroidered on the heart - ornate, painful and true. . . . While some readers might liken Donohue's penchant for mystical realism to that of novelist Alice Hoffman, any sweeping comparisons shortchange both writers, whose immense gifts bear separate and distinct literary imprimaturs. Still, he shares Hoffman's uncanny ear for capturing the libretto of childhood . . ."
"Angels of Destruction is replete with ghostly presences, harbingers of doom, angels good and bad. Surveys indicate that more than half of us believe in angels, so this otherworldly novel should find a ready audience."
"Donohue never quite reveals the mystery at the heart of Norah's sudden appearance, and that makes Angels of Destruction all the more satisfying and, yes, believable. Literary and historical clues are scattered throughout: references to the atomic bomb; a spectral man in fedora and camel-hair coat who pursues Norah and haunts Margaret; and an oblique nod to the Liber Juratus, a 14th-century manuscript containing a roll call of angels. The talisman that both Norah and Una pass on to those they love is a child's teacup with a chip in it, which invokes Auden's great poem As I Walked Out One Evening: 'The crack in the tea-cup opens/A lane to the land of the dead.'
Angels of Destruction doesn't shrink from the tragedies and inevitable separations that dog us. The book's coda is beautiful and wrenching, yet still leaves its protagonists and readers open to the possibility that the miraculous, once glimpsed, might recur. 'Love is not consolation, it is light,' wrote Simone Weil. In these bleak times, we can thank Donohue for opening a door in a darkened room."
Fans of the author's debut novel, The Stolen Child, will enjoy the same balancing act between reality and fantasy. . . . Donohue marries some fantastical themes with an unadorned style of writing that should appeal to realists and fantasy fans alike."
"With 'Angels,' Donohue delivers a magical tale of love and redemption that is as wonderfully written as it is captivating. . . . Donohue is delightfully descriptive in his writing. His word choices are carefully considered . . . and his pacing rivets you to page after page. . . . 'Angels' earns its wings."
"Angels of Destruction is charming, suspenseful, and even touching."
-New York Daily News
Praise for The Stolen Child
"A captivating tale . . . poignant and beautifully told."
"A wonderful, fantasy-laden debut . . . so spare and unsentimental that it's impossible not to be moved."
"Utterly absorbing . . . a luminous and thrilling novel about our humanity."
"The book's emotional impact is as fierce as the imagination behind it. The result is magical."
"An ingenious, spirited allegory for adolescent angst, aging, the purpose of art."
"Unusual and engaging . . . puts flesh to the bones of old fears."