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The Child Thief

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

Dark and Compelling

The Child Thief / 978-0-061-67133-3 I usually save the 'parental warnings' in my reviews until the end, but "The Child Thief", as compelling and fascinating as it is, nonetheless requires some upfront warnings. If you are thinking of buying this novel for a child, perha...
The Child Thief / 978-0-061-67133-3 I usually save the 'parental warnings' in my reviews until the end, but "The Child Thief", as compelling and fascinating as it is, nonetheless requires some upfront warnings. If you are thinking of buying this novel for a child, perhaps on the grounds that it is a Peter Pan story and therefore child-friendly, be warned that this is an incredibly dark and violent novel. I'm not exaggerating when I say that nine out of every ten pages contains a depiction of rape, child molestation, violence, murder, torture, or several instances of the F-word. I certainly wouldn't say that no child or teenager on earth would be able to appreciate this novel, but I do strongly advise that you read this book yourself, beforehand, to determine whether this level of violence will be disturbing to the intended recipient. With that out of the way, let me say that I am quick to condemn books that rely on violence, sex, and profanity in an attempt to divert the reader's attention from the fact that there is no actual plot. "The Child Thief" is not one such novel - every incidence of violence within this novel acts in service to the plot, and the end result is an incredibly compelling story that is both a re-imagining of the classic Peter Pan tale, but also remarkably true to the original in many of the details (lest we forget that Barrie's version contained quite a bit of death and murder behind the scenes). Brom has taken the premise that Peter Pan steals children away to Neverland and has expanded the concept to fit within our dark reality. Here, Peter Pan does not steal away babies who fall out of their prams - he steals away children who are victims of abuse, neglect, molestation, and all the other such evils of our world that children should never have to endure. But the Neverland that Peter promises to lead these victimized children to is not an escape in the classic sense - it is supremely dangerous, and no longer in the exciting "but-we-always-escape-in-the-end" kind of danger that the Disneyesque Neverland fostered. The neglected children are given a family and an emotionally safe haven, but every moment of their days are spent in training, in the hopes that once they leave the confines of their home they will not die immediately in this hostile world. Brom has woven a masterful tale here, with both the real world and the Neverland/Albion world realistically rendered, with both the good and the bad. There is not a single character in this novel which could be described as flat or two-dimensional; even the most minor and ancillary characters are vivid, complex, and contain their own unique mix of perspectives and motivations. I would deeply recommend "The Child Thief" to anyone who enjoys morally ambiguous tales with complex, three-dimensional characters. If you won't be offended by the incredibly violent and profane nature of the writing, and if you won't be upset by the characterization of a beloved childhood story character as something much less perfect and much more human, then "The Child Thief" is definitely worth looking into. ~ Ana Mardoll

posted by AnaMardoll on December 28, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

from missprint.wordpress.com

The Child Thief (2009) is a dark reinterpretation of the world of Peter Pan by writer and illustrator Brom. His adult novel offers a chilling alternative to the Disney version of Peter Pan which, according to the author's note, is more in keeping with the original text ...
The Child Thief (2009) is a dark reinterpretation of the world of Peter Pan by writer and illustrator Brom. His adult novel offers a chilling alternative to the Disney version of Peter Pan which, according to the author's note, is more in keeping with the original text of Peter Pan as written by J. M. Barrie.

Brom's Peter prowls the streets of New York City each night looking for haunted, lost children that he can lure away to a secret place far away. It's impossible to actually steal a child, the mist won't allow that, but you can lead a child. That's what Peter does. In many ways a lost boy himself, Peter finds children who think they have nothing left to lose; victims of violence, abuse and neglect looking for a way out. What these lost children soon learn is that there is always something else to lose.

There have been a lot of comparisons drawn between The Child Thief and Gregory Maguire's Wicked. I can't comment on that having not read the latter novel. What I can say is that The Child Thief will make your skin crawl. Like its cover, the novel is peppered with beautiful, grim illustrations of the characters. The writing is no less bleak. Peppered with violence, cursing, and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, I can see why other reviews have said this book is not for the faint of heart.

While brilliantly illustrated, the writing often felt less polished. And though certainly innovative, The Child Thief failed to enchant me. The old fairy tales, the original ones by Grimm or Andersen and apparently Barrie, were meant as cautionary tales for young children. Since then the stories have changed into entertainment: light-hearted, sugar-coated stories for boys and girls. I find, without fail, that I prefer the newer version which is probably why I could not fully embrace this novel. However the biggest problem for me is that the world of The Child Thief, possibly unintentionally, seems to be founded on the assumption that all people are amoral, opportunistic, mean and that the world they inhabit runs on violence and brutality--two assumptions I refuse to believe.

posted by MissPrint on February 27, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2015

    I found it to be predictable and over the top gory. About 3/4 of

    I found it to be predictable and over the top gory. About 3/4 of the way through I just remember thinking to myself this is just silly. I am not squeamish in the least, but there was just no finesse to the gore and madness. I know that the dark themes were what he was aiming for but I personally think the book was screaming with it. It was too much. Not to mention the ending was a let down. I can definitely appreciate the artwork however and the underlying story was very interesting to read. A darker and different outlook on a popular children's story (and their origins) is always exciting. I feel a bit let down because I've heard such great things about it and I knew that it was exactly the type of book I would love. I was really hoping it would pick up...but it didn't.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2014

    The Child Thief is a heavy volume, made heavier by an abundance

    The Child Thief is a heavy volume, made heavier by an abundance of violence untempered by any form of morality by the majority of characters presented in the story.

    The POV skips around frequently, especially in the first 250 pages, disengaging the reader from any form of emotional attachment that might be formed to the primary "lost boy", Nick. It evens out to some degree when the action truly begins, then introduces new POVs at the end that are unnecessary and cumbersome.

    The author tried to pack too much in, link too many different ideas, through an amalgamation of Arthurian legend, the pilgrims arrival in America, and various mythologies involving fairies and gods.

    The only place the book really shone is where the author accentuated Peter's separation from emotions that otherwise would have redeemed his character. Peter spends most of the book in observation mode, showing the reader that he feels little for the children he is "saving". What emotion he does display is like that of a person angered that one of his toys has been broken.

    The ending shows that there could be hope for Peter, but it comes 494 pages too late to make the book interesting.

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  • Posted October 26, 2012

    Not as good as it thought it would be.

    Very slow start. Lost interest and didn't finish it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2012

    Mediocre at best with a bad ending.

    I think the main reason I keep reading Brom's stuff is because I respect the man's desire to be a writer, as well as the days I thought his art was the most innovative, coolest, imaginative stuff I'd ever seen. Now as an adult Brom looks like just another dark fantay hack with a bondage fetish, and unfortunately this is kind of the case with The Child Theif. This book will promise you big things in the first half of the story; characters abusive stories are compelling, the enemies are vicious, and the magical world of Avalon dazzles at every turn. Then we get to the second half of the book, and finally the very disappointing end. When the smoke settles, and the pile of bodies are stacked high you can't help but feel a lot of the death, and darkness could have been avoided had any one in the story been written with common sense! Further more everything in the final chapters of this story is very predictable and follows the formula of "there are no happy endings in real life" that one might expect from some one like Brom, who probably wouldn't know how to write something that wasn't full of angst, fetish leather, and hanging subplots.
    Devils Rose was Ghost Rider with Cowboys, Plucker was Toy Story meets The Excorsist, this book just Peter Pan meet Battle Royale. I wouldn't recommend it but there's bound to be some one out there who thinks this is cool.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    Very ambivalent about this book

    I really wanted to love this book. The production of the hardback is lush with illustrations both in color and black and white. But the book is really dark. There are about three or four good chapters. Lady Modron's garden and the last two in the book come to mind. The prologue to me is a bit misleading about what the story is about.

    Technically most of the writing is good, but it is just too much. A really good edit could have made this book brilliant. Unfortunatley the story's arc from darker to darker and then still more dark does not make for a very rewarding read for a book of this length. About half-way through I almost quit.

    I think the problem is none of the characters are realy likable. And I don't need my charaters to be saintly to be likeable, in fact I love a good flawed anti-hero but Peter is not.

    My first thoughts are if you are a misanthrope and hate life on planet earth you should definitelty read this book, it could work like a homeopathic remedy. I mean after you've read a few chapters, you might even start defending "man-kind" since the rendering here is so ridiculously out of balance and dishonest.

    But if you like being hit over the head with a slege hammer and being repeatedly told that mankind is a horrific species and the creatures of Faerie are no improvement, you'll probably love this.

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  • Posted November 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Starts Great - Ends weak

    I read the first 50 pages at B&N and loved it, bought the book took it home and finished it - It progressively lost momentum and staggered to an unfulfilling ending - Great Idea but poorly poorly executed. The good news? I won't be buying anything more from Brom - All package and no substance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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