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The Child Thief: A Novel Paperback – August 17, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 253 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chesley-winning illustrator Brom (The Plucker) weaves together gloomy prose and horrifying adventures in this macabre fairy tale inspired by J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Born of faerie blood, Peter hunts abandoned children, runaways and the hopeless, recruiting for his Devils in Avalon and promising them a place where you never have to grow up. He conveniently fails to mention that Avalon's monsters are very real, and the Devils must practice their war games or risk being tortured to death, eaten or worse. While early chapters are promising, this gothic fantasy stumbles on its own darkness. The devilishly amusing flashbacks to Peter's origins don't make up for the heavy-handed bloodshed, rampant violence and two-dimensional characters. It's all fiendish monsters and desperate battles in this twisted, dark Neverland; the Disney Peter's mirth and good humor are nowhere to be found. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Ancient magics combine with feral logic to culminate in Brom’s The Child Thief. A retelling of Peter Pan spanning America’s earliest, magically rich beginnings to today’s bare whispers of belief. Wickedly poetic, The Child Thief makes me want to believe.” (Kim Harrison)

“Brom has always been an artist who gave us his nightmares fully realized, but with THE CHILD THIEF, he paints in words. A wonderfully nasty Peter Pan reboot that stands on its own as a dark, twisted adventure.” (Christopher Golden)

“A gruesome and darkly fantastical twist on a classic tale. Brom injects pure horror into fantasy.” (Holly Black, New York Times bestselling author of Ironside and The Spiderwick Chronicles)

“Beautiful and authentically dark.” (Sci-Fi)

” [A] fascinating work of dark epic fantasy that blends elements of the Peter Pan story with characters from Celtic and Norse mythologies.” (Tulsa World)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; Reprint edition (August 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061671347
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061671340
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Over the past decades, Brom has lent his distinctive visions and artwork to all facets of the creative industries, from novels and games, to comics and film. He is also the author of a series of award-winning illustrated horror novels: Krampus the Yule Lord, The Child Thief, The Plucker, and The Devil's Rose. Brom is currently kept in a dank cellar somewhere just outside of Seattle. Visit him at www.bromart.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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).

"The Child Thief" is already being compared to novels like Maguire's Wicked, but the comparison is somewhat flimsy to my mind.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Child Thief is brilliant. It's a dark and artistic masterpiece. Not for the faint of heart, or for anyone looking for something to "kill a few hours." While it does not appear long, it is deep, and the subject matter is not exactly something you can blaze through in a day.

That's not to say, however, that the writing is thick. Actually, the prose is clear, effective, and fresh. It's powerful, compelling, and gorgeous too, in its own way. It's rare that I stop to reread and savor a passage again--my idea of poetry is the blunt, short, Stephen Crane sort--but I did. Brom, the author and illustrator, can truly write.

He can also truly tell a story. It's not his story, no. This is the story of Peter Pan, brought back from the damage done by one "too many Disney films and peanut butter commercials," as Brom states in his afterword. It's Barrie's classic masterpiece given a new chance to live.

Neverland is Avalon (yes, Arthurian legend lovers, you read that right). The Lost Boys are the Devils. Peter Pan is just Peter...well, Peter the Child Thief. He is the title character of the novel; the novel is undoubtedly about him. And in fact, the characterization Brom brings to Peter is perhaps what makes this novel as brilliant as it is... the depth comes from the understanding the reader gains of Peter's past, fears, desires, motives. It's truly an artistic look at one of the most beloved literary characters.

Also among the novel's many strengths is Brom's understanding of children and the magic in both Avalon and the `real world.' His understanding and portrayal of relationships, of emotion and pain, of love--it's something deeply poetic, extremely artistic.
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"The Child Thief" is a quite well-written, original take on the Peter Pan story. The illustrations are an excellent complement to the story. It's very, very dark; anybody lookin for a happy ending will not enjoy this book.

14-year-old Nick lives with his mother and grandmother, who are boarding a vicious drug-dealer. None of the three want him there, but he's dangerous enough that they're all too frightened; besides, without the money they get from this boarder, they're all screwed.

Nick bears the brunt of the wrath of every adult in the household. He is frightened, angry, resentful, confused, and ultimately very sad. He's in constant danger and he has no future, and he knows both these things.

So, one fateful night when an odd boy named Peter saves his life, Nick decides to go along with it.

Peter tells wild stories; Nick believes none of them, until he quite suddenly finds himself traipsing through haunted mist. He almost dies a second time, but survives to find himself in a bizarre, destroyed Never-Never-Land known as Avalon, where the Lost Boys are the forgotten, abused, angry, and desperate. Peter rightfully chooses these children because they are the only ones willing to die in his mad campaign; also, this is the only place where, even if they die, even if they're tortured, even if the battle is hopeless, they have power. For the first time in their lives, these children have something to fight for, something they can change, something that empowers them; Brom makes it very clear just how important even a modicum of power is for abused children.

Captain Hook is a trapped man; the pirates are misguided souls just trying to get home.
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