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The Thief of Always Paperback – February 5, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 259 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When a 10-year-old boy wishes to be delivered from a boring afternoon, a creature takes him to the Holiday House. "Barker masterfully embroiders this fantasy world with a mounting number of grim, even gruesome details," wrote PW, "in a tale that manages to be both cute and horrifying." Ages 10-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-- What teens could resist an opening line like "The great gray beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive"? Harvey succumbs to the lure of instant pleasure, and lives to battle his way back to the real world twice , in order to regain all that he has lost. Lots of white space and full-page black-and-white illustrations invite readers to harken back to their younger days and the pleasures of folk and fairy tale collections. A candidate for reading aloud, this new twist on the fable genre may lead to independent writings or a new appreciation of the form. Layered with both supernatural elements and a large dose of horror, this one will entice fantasy fans to broaden their reading interests.
- Barbara Hawkins, Oakton High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (February 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064409945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064409940
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,646,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Thief of Always was the first novel by Clive Barker I ever read, having before known of him only as the man behind such movie greats as Hellraiser (which was a Barker book first). Anyway, it totally blew me away, and Barker is now one of my top authors, and the book is now one of my favorites (which is saying a lot because I'm quite an avid reader). The story centers around a ten-year-old boy named Harvey Swick, who becomes bored with his life and begins to wish the days away. In answer to his prayers, he is taken to a mysterious place called the Holiday House, supposedly built for children who want to have fun. Questions come up in Harvey's mind about what is really going on behind the House's happy-go-lucky exterior, and he is pulled into a horrific adventure beyond his wildest dreams (or nightmares).
I won't give anything more about the story away, you'll just have to read it for yourselves. But there are many pros in this novel, and not one con as far as I see it. The plot is unique and interesting, so much so that you won't want to put it down. It is certainly not slow-paced, and although it is almost 300 pages long it is almost over as soon as it begins, which is really the only bad thing about it. But as soon as you finish you can't help but want to read it again.
The characters are in depth and believeable, the bad guys are majorly cool, unique, and interesting. And they aren't the kind of villians that are super-strong and seemingly impossible to beat, even the worst of them has believeable weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
I recommend this book to anyone and everyone, and I can assure you that it won't be a disappointment.
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Format: Paperback
I have always been a fan of horror, and this was the book I actually read to my son that finally started him on his own road of reading for pleasure. A young boy is unhappy with his life; he doesn't like school and doesn't like his parents, and wishes for a place where he can play all day long and have no responsibilities. He finds that place when creepy Rictus leads him through the mists to a place he has always dreamed of. Kindly old Mrs. Griffin runs a quaint little house, cooking marvelous meals for the boys and girls with her cats. Harvey soon finds that this place is magical, every morning is Spring, every afternoon Summer, every evening is Autumn, and every night Winter. The children play in the warmth of summer, have Halloween every evening, and Christmas every night. He makes friends with Wendell and Lulu, and meets some freakish inhabitants. But when he finally finds the lake with the strange fish, and witnesses Lulu changing, that he realizes this wonderful place is a trap and he cannot leave. He seeks a way out, and with the help of Mrs. Griffin's cats he makes it through the misty barrier, only to find that for every day that passes in the House, a year passed in the outside world. Harvey must set things to right again, and that means returning across the misty barrier and confronting the dreaded Mr. Hood. A very enjoyable read, and surprisingly good to read to older children, especially those who may be unhappy with school. Sometimes, you get what you wish for, only to find out its not what you really wanted....
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By A Customer on December 22, 1996
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ten-year-old Harvey lives the most boring life on Earth; until
someone comes and offers him a special room at the
Holiday House. Harvey meets several friends there, and seems
to enjoy himself, but he soon discovers he can't escape.
The only one at the House who knows how to get out advises
Harvey, but when he finally exits the terrible dimension, he
realizes 30 years has passed in the outside world, when only
30 days passed in the Holiday House. Harvey has to find a way
to finally get rid of the House forever.
This is one of my favorites. It is Clive Barker's only
book for children, and he did an exceptionally good job.
It takes a wild imagination to write a work of art like this,
and Barker definitely has at least that. This book held me
transfixed the whole time, and not for one instant did I have
the urge to put it down. I'm very surprised that it's not as
popular as I would have thought, but I highly recommend it to
anyone who would like to read an excellent book and maybe get
a bit of a scare. I hope you enjoy it!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Prior to this novel, I had only read Mr. Barker's short stories in the combined volume of his Books of Blood. Many of those stories were pure genius, with riveting plot twists and original premises, but I must admit that I wasn't sure how that would translate into a novel suitable for all ages...
It turns out that I had nothing to worry about. The Thief of Always is a classic fable with enough originality to make it fresh. I was hooked as soon as I read the first paragraph.
Mr. Barker shows an insight into the mind of a child that I don't think I expected from a man who made his mark with tales of gruesome horror. Then again, I probably should have known better given the amazing insight into the human psyche that was apparent in many of his short stories. (Take, for instance, his commentary on mob mentality in "In the Hills, the Cities.")
Like many children in such tales, Harvey's downfall is his boredom and his desire for something different, something fun. He finds himself drawn into a world of wonders that quickly becomes a world of horrors. Barker's supporting cast, the good and the evil, are flawlessly executed with just enough surreal charm to make you fear what might really be going on in Holiday House.
The evil in the story is horrifying (without going too far for a younger reader) and Barker's message is clear. Harvey learns that nothing comes without a price and that time is precious. He learns to appreciate each moment he has with his family and friends, no matter how dull those moments may sometimes seem. In the process of making these discoveries, he also proves himself to be a hero as he overcomes his own weakness to defeat Mr. Hood.
I highly recommend this book for young and old alike ... I've recommended it to my husband, since he's been looking for a light read and this one is well worth the time.
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