29 July 2009

The Child Thief

The Child Thief
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Eos (August 25, 2009)
3/5 stars

The Child Thief is a retelling, of sorts, of the story of Peter Pan. Peter, the Child Thief, steals children from this world to take into his world to use against his enemy in the long-going war in Avalon. To take a child through the Mist into Avalon, the child must go willingly with Peter, so he spends considerable effort winning the child over. Peter only picks the runaway, the abused, the abandoned child--the ones who would be eager to escape this life for the next.

The stories of the children he "steals" are full of violence and abuse (sexual, emotional, physical) and despair, all told in grim detail. While they are glad to escape from the lives, the new life Peter grants is not all that much better.

In this version of his story, Peter is not the typical hero, but is a selfish, complex, nearly amoral character. His back story is told in flashbacks through out the book, as the reader gradually comes to learn what influences have made him as he is.

Brom's writing is excellent, hence the third star. With his complex characters and thorough descriptions, he continued to propel me through the pages long after I had lost interest in the bleak, sometimes terrifying, plot. Despite not being able to enjoy this book, I would be interested in reading more by the author; his storytelling was just that good.

This is a dark, graphically violent and generally disturbing book, full of profanity and pain. In my opinion it is not one that should be given a general YA label; in fact, it is more appropriate for adults. I would advise parents to read it before giving it to a YA reader.



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