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The Child Thief

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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 January 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Child Thief

    What can I say about this book? It was dark, gritty, gory, realistic, nightmarish and difficult to read at times. But it was quite good, too. Brom did an admirable job of gathering many myths, legends, and fairy tales into one cohesive and mostly believable world. There were a couple of things I couldn't really buy into, but that's not unusual when an author is building a new world (or an alternate world) and this one was better than many.

    For the most part there was a decent balance of good and bad in the characters. Few were black or white and several surprised me with what they showed themselves to be capable of (both good and bad) once I thought I'd gotten a good read on them. But even though I was surprised, it didn't feel forced or unrealistic. I could totally buy that the 'bad' characters were sometimes decent and the 'good' characters had weaknesses and/or darker spots too, and that's an accomplishment for any author.

    The one case where this wasn't true was with those who represented Christians. (I think to the author they were Christians, but they certainly weren't truly Christians to me.) They were all rotten to the core; judgmental, unaccepting, unforgiving, full of hate for anyone and anything different and willing to do horrible things in God's name. As a Christian, this hurt and saddened me. I know that things like that have happened and people like that have claimed the name of Christ and there's a reason some people see God's Church this way, but that breaks my heart because that's not the true Church and those people will receive their just reward. But in the case of this particular book, I would have liked to have seen even just one Christian who wasn't horrid. I know they exist because I don't think I'm horrid, and it made the book weaker that that particular set of characters were all bad through and through, without any sort of balance at all.

    And now I really must read J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2014

    great Peter Pan story for adults (or teens)

    I felt I had to say something here to contrast the extreme reviews I saw about the excessive violence and such. Yes, this novel is for adults (or teens) and contains violence and some sexuality (including one implied, but not described, abusive situation) and cursing, but it's no more violent, etc., than most adult novels which would fall in horror, fantasy or crime genres (and perhaps less than many of those). The amount of cursing is mild and I'd say this is suitable for older teens (would've been fine for me as a teenager).

    As for the story itself, I quite enjoyed it, as well as the illustrations - it's a bit like a Neil Gaiman dark fairytale. As others have said, there isn't a huge amount of character development (other than Peter), but neither did I find the characters flat and unbelievable as I've experienced elsewhere. They were real characters, mostly troubled children/teens, just a lot of them, so not much time spent on most of them and the story is mostly action and telling Peter's history. It is dark, for sure, but not without mischievous fun - if you like horror-fantasy-adventure, you will enjoy this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2013

    Get lost in the details...

    I had high hopes for this book and although it delivered it was not quite in the wa I had expected. Perhaps I am desensed from too many horror movies but I would not classify this has a horror novel. There is fighting that leads to gore but that is pretty much the extent of it. I don't find it particularly disturbing at a psychological level either but perhaps some would.

    I must also admit that besides the main charcter being named Peter and a character being referred to as 'The Captain' it is a far cry from Peter Pan. Although in Brom's defense I have not read the original and am basing my assumption on a grossly cheerful Disney classic.

    All that being said it was a riveting tale that kept the reader engaged through out. There were a few brief moments where the past and present became slightly muddled but over all it was a great read.

    I recommend but leave any preconcieved notions behind and look at it as a new story not a retelling based in horror.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2012

    Highly recommended

    This was a fantastic re-telling of Peter Pan.

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  • Posted May 13, 2012

    For the most part I loved this book. The dark retelling that Bro

    For the most part I loved this book. The dark retelling that Brom created is phenomenal. The setting and the actual time gaps between each 'Lost Child' child from the Native American times all the way to modern New York City times. For the most part, each main character is given a detailed background story. Even the minor characters are given relatively detailed stories. My only issues is the ending which seems very rushed and the background story of one of the major antagonists Ulfger. His background is mentioned, a repetitive re-mentioning of that slight bit of background, and then his background and storyline ends rather abruptly. My personal opinion is that people can relate to each character [minus Ulfger] even in the most minor way, which helps the reader relate to the characters. Overall this book is highly recommended for anyone, of a suitable age of course.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2012

    Quite good, but dark

    "The Child Thief" is a very good book. The black & white and color illustrations are a wonderful addition to this Nook book. It was a little slow in places. It was a very long novel, almost 400 Nook pages.

    To start, let me say what no other reviewer has said, Peter is a sociopath. He does what he wants, because it is what he wants to do. Right vs. Wrong has nothing to do with his decision making process.

    Peter lures abused/lost adolescents into the mist with his promises and lies of a life free of rules and adults. A place where they can play games and have fun. Because, what is more fun than engaging children in war "games" against adults?!! He must have known it was doomed from the start, but he keeps gathering kids and leading them to their deaths.

    The lines are blurry in this book, between good and evil, much like real life. The mutant adult sadists are evil, but they see themselves as good. Peter and his devils believe they are good because they are fighting for the side of magic. The magical faery folk believe that all humans are evil, whether child or adult. Who is right?

    If you are at all sensitive about foul language or extreme child abuse/molestation/torture, then this is not the book for you. This is a book for teens and older, definitely not a kid's bedtime story. There is violence and extreme violence with a few pages of training for battle. It is not a light and happy story.

    I enjoyed this book, but it was a bit too long. I almost gave up, but I am glad that I finished. I really liked the inclusion of the many black/white and a few color illustrations. I think that it helped make the story more complete. Make no mistake, this novel is epic in length and story line. It is worth reading, though. I recommend this book to older readers due to the violence and the explicit mistreatment of children.

    -AvidReader

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  • Posted August 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    illustrations in ebook?

    does anyone know if the EBOOK form has the illustrations?! i want this but will buy the paperback instead if the ebook is missing the illustrations. out of two books i bought for my nook water for elephants did not include the illustrations that the book version had but peculiar childen of miss perguine did include them and i want to have the illustrations!

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  • Posted May 29, 2011

    I could NOT put this book down!!!

    I tore through this fairly thick book (almost 500 pages) in about 3 days. We all know the Disney story of Peter Pan, and some of us know the original Barrie story. This book turns Disney on it's ear. This story is DARK, GOTHIC, GORY, EXTREMELY GRAPHIC AND BEAUTIFUL. The characters, the atmosphere of the story and the dark quality of the authors writing style will be sure to entice anyone who is a fan of dark, gothic, imaginative storytelling. I'm looking forward to reading Brom's other 2 novels.

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!

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  • Posted October 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Wasn't quite sure about this

    It took me a bit to get into this, but I think the reason was that I had forgotten the J. M. Barrie story. (I did go back to read the story)

    This is very dark and does not have any of the glossy covering of the Barrie story line, but understanding the Pan charator, Brom's take is quite true to form.

    In the end I really enjoyed Brom's take on the Peter Pan story

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    This is an exiting merger of classic folktales and peter pan told in an invorgating and fresh way that touches the darker side of anyones heart.

    This is an exiting merger of classic folktales and peter pan told in an invorgating and fresh way that touches the darker side of anyones heart.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    Haunting

    I was happy with this book. I wasn't sure what to expect in the beginning, there are so many directions one could probably take with this story, but I think Brom wrote it well. It is a very haunting story, from the lives the children have before Peter brings them to "neverland" and what goes on in Peter's world. If you don't like anything gothic or dark, or gory, you won't like this book. There were some very disturbing descriptions, some even hard for me to read (and usually that doesn't bother me too much). This book is very original and great escapism. I highly recommend it!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Elaborately Detailed

    "The Child Thief" was okay for me. I did get a bit bored with it half way through. It seemed a little "video game-ish" in areas. Brom gave very detailed description to captivate his readers. I did like that. I was engrossed in the story. I do think I need to reread it. It is definately the type of book that needs to be read straight through. If you put it down too long it's hard to jump back into, due to the fact that there is a lot going on with a few of the characters. I find Brom's take on Peter Pan haunting. He gives a detailed description of that at the end of the story. It is very interesting. This isn't a story for everyone. It is gruesome in parts and somewhat disturbing.

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  • Posted January 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Disney's got nothing on this Peter Pan...

    The Child Thief is a remarkable twist of the original children's story, Peter Pan. While the story is based off of a pre-existing story, it is incredibly original how the story is peiced together. The Character development is excellent and Brom uses several different myths and time periods to weave an amazing story line. As an added bonus, the author is better known for art work in previous graphic novels - such as Plucker and Devil's Rose - and that artistic ability is not lost on the story at all as the hardcover version of this book includes some of Brom's work depicting some of the major players in the story.
    Now while this is based off of a childrens story, it is by no means suitable for most children. There is strong language and some graphic fight scenes. Overall this is an excellent story with all kinds of twists and turns and adventure. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good fanatasy book.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    This is not Disney's version of Peter Pan!

    I am about 3/4 of the way through this book, the illustrations are well done; both in color and black & white. This novel is a much darker take off on "Captain Hook and Peter Pan". Its got all sorts of gruesome creatures and a both frightened & brave tribe of human children; who've been abused or forgotten and are more than willing to escape from our world to Neverland. I would recommend this book; just don't read it late at night, you'll have some very weird dreams.

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  • Posted October 27, 2009

    A bit of a twist on Peter Pan

    I found this a good book for an afternoon read; made me want to go back and re-read Peter Pan. Those fairy tales have more bite than beauty. Let's just hope Hollywood doesn't decide to make a movie - they would ruin a good story-the Brits on the other hand could take the dark story and keep the shades of black going.

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    Posted September 22, 2010

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