The Child Thief
author : brom
pages : [hardcover] 481
memorable quote : If you don’t learn to laugh at life it’ll surely kill you, that I know.
favorite characters : peter & cricket
Fourteen-year-old Nick would have been murdered by the drug dealers preying on his family had Peter not saved him. Now the irresistibly charismatic wild boy wants Nick to follow him to a secret place of great adventure, where magic is alive and you never grow old. Even though he is wary of Peter’s crazy talk of faeries and monsters, Nick agrees. After all, New York City is no longer safe for him, and what more could he possibly lose?
There is always more to lose.
Accompanying Peter to a gray and ravished island that was once a lush, enchanted paradise, Nick finds himself unwittingly recruited for a war that has raged for centuries—one where he must learn to fight or die among the “Devils,” Peter’s savage tribe of lost and stolen children.
There, Peter’s dark past is revealed: left to wolves as an infant, despised and hunted, Peter moves restlessly between the worlds of faerie and man. The Child Thief is a leader of bloodthirsty children, a brave friend, and a creature driven to do whatever he must to stop the “Flesh-eaters” and save the last, wild magic in this dying land
I absolutely love fairy tale retellings and haven’t picked up too many adult novels that feature this. Peter Pan is one of my favorite stories and I was eager to see how that idea was darkened and twisted in The Child Thief. In some ways, it went exactly as I’d expected it would, with the children being led to a world not quite like Neverland, more like an ancient fairy realm no one would really like to visit. Peter is charming enough to keep the children content, most of the time, and he convinces them to fight alongside him in his quest to rid Avalon of the dangerous monsters who used to be men that are turning the magical realm apart.
I’m a little confused as to why this is considered an adult novel. Yes, there is plenty of violence in it (which I’ll get to in a moment) and some sexual implications. But I’ve seen scenes like that in YA novels and the main character of this book is fourteen years old. It was an odd mix for me but it also makes me think this book would be a good one to reach for if you’re trying to transition from YA to adult reading because of the age range of so many of the characters (ignoring the fact that while Peter acts like a teenager he’s over 900) and while this book is well-written, it certainly isn’t overwritten.
That it, if you can overlook the gratuitous violence. I would say that it worked for me, or at least didn’t bother me, until the last third of the book. At that point terrible things were happening so often that I almost didn’t care, which is the worst thing that could possibly happen in a book. I was becoming immune to all of this because I couldn’t read about all of these deaths (sometimes about characters who really weren’t mentioned before they were killed off) and feel emotion about it because by the time I registered that something tragic had happened, another terrible thing was occurring.
I don’t think slower pacing would have helped that because the novel is already over 500 pages. Perhaps if the first half had been much shorter, the actions in the latter half could have been extended. I really loved reading about Peter’s backstory, however, as well as the intricacies of the fairy world, so I wouldn’t have taken that out for anything.
If you can handle the violence and love Peter Pan, I would say to give this book a chance. While I enjoyed reading it, I do not think it is one that I will reread.