Fantasy · Middle Grade

[Review] Stolen by Vivian Vande Velde

Stolen is a short story, fantasy, aimed at children in third to fifth grade (that’s where the library has them categorized under, however, it is also found under YA on sites like Goodreads).


On the day that the village witch stole Mady’s newborn child, a twelve year old appears in the woods with no memories of her past or who she is. Mady clearly believes this child is Isabelle, the first child she lost six years prior, but there’s much skepticism from other villagers. Particularly Honey, ‘Isabelle’s’ older sister.

Why is it that Honey is so certain Isabelle isn’t her sister and if she’s not, who is Isabelle and where does she come from?

There’s not much I really want to say about this book. You can obviously tell it’s aimed at a younger audience as soon as you start reading, as the sentences are pretty simple and words are on the easier side. The book is only 153 pages and the chapters are all fairly short. The story is told from the point of view of a twelve-year-old girl who is running in the woods and suddenly can’t remember what she’s doing, who she is, or anything about her past.

She can’t remember why she’s running, whether it’s for sport or if she’s running from someone. It’s like she suddenly became conscious of herself mere seconds before. And just as quickly we learn that she’s being followed by a pack of dogs who she tries to escape from by climbing a tree. Things don’t exactly end well as she can’t actually climb the tree she picked out and one of the dogs manages to bite her leg right before they’re called off by their owner.

Taken in by the stranger, she finds herself in a homey village house with an old couple and what may possibly be their niece. As the main character struggles to figure out who she may be, the young six-year-old Ravyn spins tales of her being a Princess who was stolen by the witch.

Who is the witch though? An old woman who has a reputation of stealing children and that her latest snatch may have cost her her life.

While not the best book out there I did enjoy reading this. It had enough luring material (who is Isabelle and is she really who everyone believes she is?) and suspense to keep me turning page after page, however, not enough to keep me engaged in one sitting. I can usually finish a book this short in less than a day but this took me three to finish.

The characters don’t stand out much. Some are only introduced once and never come back, while those that linger are only developed minimally. It’s only at the conclusion where some characters start to feel more interesting.

In terms of plot, there are quite a few theories that can be made as to Isabelle’s identity within the first few chapters and when it’s finally revealed at the end it isn’t surprising. I would even say it’s expected to be what it is.

I would recommend this as a light read and for those who don’t necessarily need much action happening in their fantasy reads. It also has a more positive twist to what a witch typically is referred to. In the end I gave this book a 3/5 ☆ (It’s OK) on Goodreads.

I would recommend Dragon’s Bait for a more fantasy based story by the same author. Also on the topic of witches, Dragon’s Bait takes a darker turn, focusing on revenge for falsely accusing a village girl of being a witch. It may also be one of my favorite books

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