Saturday, January 15, 2011

Girl On Book Action: A Special Guest Review on the Child Thief

The Child Thief by Brom
Lyn here, from Lazy Lady (, doing a guest review! I'm not sure that I will be able to review anything properly, but I'll give it a shot. One of the last books I read (well finished reading anyway) was a dark fantasy novel, The Child Thief by Brom.
I picked up this book because I liked the cover. I had no idea what it was about and I had never heard of Brom before. It was in the crap box at work so I figured, why not? (I work for a newspaper and we get books and CDs and such things all the time, but we don't really review stuff so it just goes in the “crap box” and is up for grabs for anyone who wants it).
Like so many before me, I am fascinated by the tale of Peter Pan, the romantic idea of an endless childhood amongst the magical playground of Neverland. But, like so many, my mind’s image of Peter Pan had always been that of an endearing, puckish prankster, the undue influence of too many Disney films and peanut-butter commercials. That is, until I read the original Peter Pan, not the watered-down version you’ll find in the children’s bookshops these days, but James Barrie’s original –and politically uncorrected—version, and then I began to see the dark undertones and to appreciate just what a wonderfully bloodthirsty, dangerous, and at times cruel character Peter Pan truly is.” -Brom
Now, time for the actual review:
This dark retelling of Peter Pan was beautifully and disturbingly written. The horrors of Peter's past and the pasts of The Devils ("lost boys" equivalent in this story) are harrowing, but gave the story's many character-developments strength and insight without the reader feeling labored to get through them all.
I'll be honest though, the beginning of the book made me put it down for a bit so I could mentally prepare myself for what might come as I continued reading. I won't give too much away, but it has to do with a little girl and her abusive father. But I want to be clear, Brom doesn't abuse the dark material he put in this book. It was necessary and it wasn't exploitative, just hard to get through as a beginning of a book.
After the initial shock though, I found myself unable to put the book down. This world combined elements of the Peter Pan I grew up with as well as Arthurian mythology (as well some others thrown in the mix) held me spellbound. The way Brom mixes these many magical sources as well as the modern world (where, of course, Peter comes to bring children to Avalon–the equivalent of NeverLand in this retelling) was seamless and really added so much depth and richness to the story. He was very detailed but without being over-detailed, which is something I find to be tiresome in books.
I do feel like the ending, was a bit rushed. Maybe that was intentional, as the climactic pace picked up and a lot was going on all at once, but I felt like I needed moments to breathe. I'm not saying there should have been pages that take you away from the action at the end; however, there could have been more moments, captured in the length of a few sentences, that show the calm of a scene before the insanity of war and magic take over it. Little breaks to help the reader not feel overwhelmed (and I don't mean “overwhelmed in the good, “lost in the moment,” way). Also, subsequently, the hurried nature can leave the reader with sense of “wait, what just happened?” at the end.
Brom also has some wonderful illustrations in the book. There are glossy color illustrations in the center, but there are also illustrations through out the book that help the reader better envision the world that Brom created for this Peter. As I read, I found myself constantly flipping to the character illustrations to help myself see what Peter or Nick (the other main character of this book, the last of the kids Peter brought over) is seeing. There is no illustration of Nick, by the way. I feel this is to allow the reader to put him/herself in Nick's shoes better. Brom also created a map of Avalon that I also would turn to reference as I read and journeyed with the characters.
This book is one that I would recommend to anyone (as long as I thought they could handle the dark material in it).

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