The Child Thief is a dark retelling of the story of Peter Pan. He’s no longer the playful forever-young child that we know in Disney stories, but instead he is a haunted boy with a troubled past who will do anything to protect the Fae world of Avalon and its Goddess, the Lady Modron. Filled with bloodthirsty battles, crude language, hauntingly twisted characters and a few touching scenes, The Child Thief is an amazing book, and here’s why.
A Twisted Main Character
When the book started, I didn’t like the character of Peter. In fact, I thought he was an incredibly selfish child who didn’t care about the children he was recruiting to fight for him. But as the novel progressed, Peter grew as a character and subsequently grew on me. He changed from a boy who just wanted what he wanted for his own reasons to a boy who slowly realizes that his decisions affect others. Very rarely do I see a character change so much in a book, and it’s very refreshing.
An Amazing Backstory
Normally when I read a novel, there’s a little bit of backstory for the main character – a few reasons as to how he acts the way he does and what’s happened to him. In The Child Thief, I got much more than that. I saw how Peter grew up, the trials that he experienced, how he thought he found a savior in the Lady Modron, and why he eventually started stealing children to fight for the land of Avalon. I honestly expected there to be a few words on Peter’s history, how he came to be, what his origins were, maybe a chapter or so in length, but Peter’s history is told throughout the novel in flashbacks. Some made me cry out in joy when he did something truly spectacular, others made me hate him for being so selfish, but all of them made me feel something, and that’s very impressive.
A New Villain
Going into this, I expected to see the Captain as a horribly bloodthirsty man who just wanted to gut some children to feed his own twisted mind, but instead I got a Captain who ended up in Avalon with no way to escape doing his best to survive. Yes, he wants Peter dead, but only because he views Peter as the cause of all of his problems. Instead of the Captain being the same old villain from every other Peter Pan story, we get Ulfgar, the son of the Horned One, perished God of Avalon, who thinks he’s entitled to his father’s place in the world and despises Peter for being loved by Modron. Ulfgar is a truly twisted character, and it surprised me how much I felt for him.
Now, this isn’t something that I normally mention in novels, simply because it has nothing to do with the story – most of the time. Each chapter starts off with a black and white sketch, and they’re truly magnificently done. In the middle of the book are eight full color drawings done by Brom of the main characters, and they’re fantastic. I was as impressed by the artwork as I was with the novel, simply because the descriptions of the characters given by Brom match the drawings exactly, and that’s something that rarely happens simply because most authors can’t draw worth a damn. It’s a great touch to the book.
Why you should read this book?
If you like dark fantasy, then you’ll love this book. I appreciated the new take on Peter Pan, simply because it’s something that I haven’t seen before. This book isn’t perfect – it has a few flaws, but not enough to detract from the story. I applaud Brom for writing this, because it must have been a huge undertaking on his part. I look forward to reading this book again and again.
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