Monday, 28 December 2009

The Child Thief by Brom


This is essentially a modern day telling of the tale of 'Peter Pan'. In some ways it is similar to J.M. Barrie's original in that Peter lives on a mysterious, hidden island with 'lost' children and he is fighting the 'pirates' though in this case they are early settlers destined for the New World who happen upon the island. In other ways it is quite different: there are both boys and girls, no mother, and other legends and mythical characters are included (standing stones, Arthurian legend).


The story starts on the mean streets of New York where young Nick has stolen the drugs from the thug that lives in his house. He has been caught by friends of the thug and they are about to beat him to death when Peter shows up and 'removes' the threats to Nick. He manages to gain Nick's trust, which is essential, and offers to take him to a better place to live. What child living in such horrid circumstances would say no? So off they go to Avalon (not NeverNever Land).


This starts a new and very dark version of Peter Pan. Peter himself is over 1400 years old and has been stealing children for much of that time. In the beginning he did take them to a better home, but as time progresses the scourge grows and Avalon decays. I found this New World scourge fascinating. It made me think of 'Lord of the Flies' where the society of the boys on the island deteriorated very quickly with no adults to keep them in order. In this case, the scourge has had several centuries to decay and pervert their original nature and intent.
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I am still torn by the character of Peter. He does remove the children from lives that have become a terror, but he isn't totally honest with them about where they are going. He doesn't lie to them, but he tells them only the smallest amount of the truth. Sort of an 'out of the frying pan and into the fire' kind of existence. He even admits that its been getting harder to find children who can survive and reach the hideaway on the island and that he has started to forget some of the kids. He should at least remember the children who's lives have been lost at his behest. At the point we met Peter, all that matters to him is his precious Queen and he is willing to risk any number of children to save her. Pretty cold hearted.
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Even with my love/hate feelings for Peter, I really enjoyed this story. I like when there were similarities with the original, Peter crowing in the morning in the hide out, and I also liked the differences such as the Elven blade Maldiriel that Peter gives to Nick.
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I would not recommend reading this to your young children, rather keep it for yourself after they have gone to bed, but maybe put on an extra light in the hallway when you turn in for the night.
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ps, This is the first adult novel I have read in a long time to have such wonderful illustrations at the beginnings of chapters. I highly recommend that you read the author's notes at the end of the book. I found them rather illuminating; they removed my Disney blinders from the character of Peter Pan.
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If you want to read my reviews of other 'Peter Pan' inspired books, click the Peter Pan label below this post. I have several more such books queued up to read.
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Thanks to HarperCollins for sending me this review copy.

3 comments:

....Petty Witter said...

Sounds promising, thanks for sharing.

....Petty Witter said...

Just dropping by to wish you all the best in 2010.

Tropical Screamer said...

Wishing you a wonderful 2010 and many hours of great reading and writing.

Darilyn