Customer Reviews for

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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  • Posted February 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    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 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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2013

    Good book but pictures do not transfer well in nook verison

    So this was my second book by Brom, my first book being Krampus. Which I loved! I got The Child Thief second because I knew it was Brom’s first book, so I had some reservations about reading it first. I am glad I waiting until after I finished Krampus. Although the Child Thief was good I did not think it was as strong as Krampus. The Child Thief promises a dark version of Peter Pan where Peter seduces abused, neglected, and rejected children, promising them wonders but instead delivering them into something unspeakably awful. The first few chapters are hazy and threatening, and could lead into a great book. But what The Child Thief actually delivers is quite different: a half-fey boy who recruits lost children to join him in the fight to save a dying magic land. Peter is portrayed in his usually charismatic and selfish way, but with a much more sinister angle. He is fully taken in by his queen and will stop at no cost in order to restore her power. Most of the other major characters are all drawn from western European mythology. From the witchy Ginny Greenteeth to the elder troll Tanngnost, Brom has weaved a dark magical story. A certain sword from Arthurian legend also makes its way into this tale. Despite the magical setting, there's little magic in the book. My biggest gripe about the nook edition of this book is the fact the pictures are thumbnails. If you get the book version they are whole pages, and beautifully done. So I am just bitter because my nook pictures are tiny and do not do justice to Brom’s art, so I had to buy the book version too. Overall, I do recommend this to horror and even dark fantasy fans. It is an original take on a classic children's tale, reminding us that many medieval fairy tales were not meant for children.

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  • Posted January 23, 2013

    Brom's weaving of the original Peter Pan story and old mythology

    Brom's weaving of the original Peter Pan story and old mythology feels flawless and was a delicious read. I was immersed in his vivid world and dragged in entirely. This gritty, gory, frighteningly realistic rendition reminds us that there is no clear line between "good" and "bad", and that bad can always go to worse.
    My only disappointment was the rich complex character building stopped at the main characters. The antagonists were disappointingly flat. In particular I was annoyed at how little development went into Peter's Rival, Lord Ulfger. His total lack of real character development left me feeling like he was just a black-faced tool for the author to make things happen, and not a legitimate thinking-feeling character of his own.

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  • Posted May 9, 2010

    Very dark side of Peter Pan

    This book takes abused, neglected children to the land of Avalon by a 1400 year old Peter Pan. The book has exploitations, dark scenes of dead bodies, narcotics and abuse. It's not for a younger audience but tells the tale of Peter's birth through the world of Avalon and the fight with the pirates. Interesting read of fantasy and magic but not for the faint of heart.

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  • Posted December 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not for everyone

    Imagine Peter Pan meets Lord of the Flies, but with the strength of neither. Brom tends to beleaguer his points -- life on the streets, the crude and cruel colonization of Native America, the environment -- all being valid themes and appropriate for this work, but it would take a fantasy fiction fan to appreciate the details. Alas, I am not.

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