The Thief of Always - Clive Barker

(No Series)

Mr. Hood's Holiday House has stood for a thousand years, welcoming countless children into its embrace. It is a place of miracles, a blissful round of treats and seasons, where every childhood whim may be satisfied.

There is a price to be paid, of course, but young Harvey Swick, bored with his life and beguiled by Mr. Hood's wonders, does not stop to consider the consequences. It is only when the House shows its darker face - when Harvey discovers the pitiful creatures that dwell in its shadows - that he comes to doubt Mr. Hood's philanthropy. The house and its mysterious architect are not about to release their captive without a battle, however. Mr. Hood has ambitions for his new guest, for Harvey's soul burns brighter than any soul he has encountered in a thousand years.

“We're both thieves, Harvey Swick. I take time. You take lives. But in the end we're the same: both Thieves of Always.”

Clive Barker brings readers this delightful fairy tale, surrounding the main character of young Harvey, a bright adventurous young boy with a stubborn streak. I advise not being put off by its seemingly childlike innocence; this one features monstrous beings, cruel twists of fate, and genuinely frightening outcomes. All ages can enjoy Thief of Always, for it stirs up the imagination and brings back that child in all of us.

Starting off with the basics (Harvey is bored), we are quickly whirled into the colorful world that Barker masters so well. The whole novel is quick in pace and never dull for a moment. I got caught up in the first chapter and before I knew it, the end reared its head and this fun ride was already over. The setting is of a fascinating, mystical, storybook house. With some minor plot similarities to The Haunting where the house is concerned, we learn through Harvey's eyes what is what and a small mystery is solved. The atmosphere was perfect for an adult fairy tale -light tone but darker meanings.

Besides Harvey the other characters add their own style. Little Wendell is a bit more mischievous but enjoyable. The housekeeper Mrs. Griffin plays a big part and at times I wasn't sure what to make of her. All villains would frighten anyone no matter how old if they were encountered - they are obviously Barker's creations.

One minor complaint was that not many believed Harvey's story when he tried to tell it. When this happens it is a personal pet peeve of mine. I cannot stand everyone else not believing a character. But the end justified the means and I wasn't left a sulking fan. It wrapped up as well as any adult fairy tale should. Quick and filled with action but enough fluff to lengthen, the style is written in a simple and straight-forward manner.

Great stuff to have fun with, and a wonderful trip down memory lane - a reminder that things don't have to be complex and sophisticated in order to be disturbing and creepy.

   Book Quotes:

“Evil, however powerful it seemed,could be undone by its own appetite.” 

 “Perhaps the House had heard Harvey wishing for a full moon, because when he and Wendell traipsed upstairs and looked out the landing window, there--hanging between the bare branches of the trees--was a moon as wide and as white as a dead man's smile.”

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