The Child Thief: A Novel

by Brom

Hardcover, 2009

Status

Available

Call number

813.6

Collection

Publication

Eos (2009), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 496 pages

Description

The acclaimed artist Brom brilliantly displays his multiple extraordinary talents in The Child Thief-a spellbinding re-imagining of the beloved Peter Pan story that carries readers through the perilous mist separating our world from the realm of Faerie. As Gregory Maguire did with his New York Times bestselling Wicked novels, Brom takes a classic children's tale and turns it inside-out, painting a Neverland that, like Maguire's Oz, is darker, richer, more complex than innocent world J.M. Barrie originally conceived. An ingeniously executed literary feat, illustrated with Brom's sumptuous artwork, The Child Thief is contemporary fantasy at its finest-casting Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, even Captain Hook and his crew in a breathtaking new light.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member richardderus
Rating: 5* of five

The Book Report: Retelling the Peter Pan legend with heaping helpings of Celtic myth, genuine teenage angst, and surprisingly scary-to-me horror. I think the huge majority of people remember the basics of the story, Peter enticing kids off to Neverland to fight Captain Hook and
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never, ever grow up, right? Well, same here, only Neverland is one emm-effin' SCARY-ASS place, the kids are society's fallen-through-the-cracks abusees, runaways, and misfits, and the reason they never grow up is they mostly die in their first few minutes there.

Peter himself, the Happy Sociopath, well, his backstory is one of the revelations of the book...he's a changeling child, an apparently immortal and certainly immoral survivor of pagan Ireland. The author delved deeply into the Celtic myths, and has gifted us with a reconstruction of the actual, underlying story, trimmed of repetition, variations among the versions smoothed out, selectively applied, and a new, vibrant, and compelling tale made from the old, raggedy myths.

My Review: It's superb. It's 480pp long. It's *beautifully* illustrated. It's enormous, at 7 x 10. I adore it, book and content both. No one may borrow my copy, a gift from a ridiculously generous friend, because if a corner gets bent or a page gets food-baptized, There Will Be Blood.

I wasn't much of a child. I thought about stuff kids just don't, like why it was okay for girls to have different names after they got married, but not boys; why the Bible said it was okay to fuck your daughters like Lot did, but not other boys; and that all those yahoos clappin' for Tinkerbelle, clearly the *lamest* fairy ever in the history of fairies, should oughta just go straight to the milk and cookies and leave me alone with the gin. Disney shit made me gaseous, as I said to my mother, who paused, laughed, and never inflicted anything Disney on me again. So it was with great and well-founded trepidation that, after reading a gushsome review of this book, I decided to move out of my comfort zone and give it a whirl.

Oh my heck.

I had to put it down every so often because the pain in my gouty wrists and fingers got so nasty, and no book-holding device I possess was up to this tome's heft (lost that Levenger reading desk, dammit!). And a darn good thing, too, since I was rather often scared poopless by some action or another. It's a real story, this Child Thief...a real, balls-out, the-world's-a-meanass-place [Matterhorn] of a journey, made in excellent company and told in truthsome, sparklingly grim prose.

I want Tim Burton to make this mini-series, starring Johnny Depp as Peter, don't care how old he is he's the *perfect* beautiful sociopath with no fear for scare...animate it, do the thing they did with The Polar Express whatever that's called, and BTW that's one of the all-time great Xmas stories isn't it?, but let's get this fucker made (to quote Bela Lugosi from Ed Wood, another Depp masterpiece) and not shilly-shally!

In case you can't tell, this book is Recommended with Joy.
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LibraryThing member GirlMisanthrope
Peter Pan, the darker, original version, not the Disneyfied version, has always fascinated me. There are so many layers, so much subtext, and a dark underbelly I appreciate in children's stories. So I was chomping at the bit to bite into Brom's goth Pan.
His Peter is wicked and deliciously devilish.
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You will be enchanted by him as well. Peter lives in Avalon (Neverland), a home he fights to protect from the Flesh-Eaters. He travels beyond the Mist to recruit other lost boys and girls to join his Devils in the fight in preserving Avalon. They worship him and will do anything for his approval, for a flash of his smile.

The action is constant, non-stop and the author shifts POV's with aplomb. The artwork is breath-taking; every nerd who spent their high school years rushing home to scrawl out their own comic book will salivate at these gorgeous renderings. This is a fierce narrative; I picked up the book as soon as I got home from work. And it was utterly satisfying.

Keep an eye out for Brom's version of Tiger Lily, Wendy, and Captain Hook.
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LibraryThing member highvoltagegrrl
First things first. This is not the kid friendly Peter who flies though the skies trailed by glittering fairy dust. This Peter is every parents nightmare. This Peter whispers naughty things in your children's ear, abducting in the night. This Peter won't hesitate to split a man in two or sacrifice
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a kid or two in the name of what he thinks is right. But despite all of that, Peter is the hero and horribly charming.

It is because of that charm that the novel works. As dark as this book is, and it is very dark, the kid in you still wants Peter knocking on your window and taking you on a grand adventure. The story is a great adventure filled with fairies and pixies, ladies and witches, elves and trolls, monsters and pirates. It has everything that made Peter Pan great, but it looks under Peter's grin and reads between the lines.

The story isn't only about Peter sneaking away children to use them soldiers in a war with the pirates, but also gives a glimpse into the origin of Peter. The Child Thief paints a different and intriguing story of Peter's childhood. I found myself turning pages hoping the next page would be another flashback. These parts are scattered through out and are fun to read.

Being over 400 pages, the book still reads at a quick pace. It reads more like a movie or graphic novel, then a regular novel. Not too much time is wasted on describing the world or building relationships. You do get to know the characters and what they mean to each other, but this book isn't really about that. It is about taking Never Land and tossing it on its head. As dark as the book gets and as quick as the pace is, it still captures the essence of Peter as the eternal boy.

Book Rating: 3/5
Book Received By: Library Loan
Reviewer: Wally
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LibraryThing member xollo
THE CHILD THIEF by Brom completely satisfied my need for a good, bloody, stay-up-late-reading, fantasy adventure. It twists the story of Peter Pan into a violent and dark nightmare, and the result is deeply engrossing. Main character Nick, a boy stolen from the streets of New York by Peter to fight
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with Peter’s Devils (a more wicked version of the Lost Boys), is so real and compelling, and like any teenager, he asks “what the f*ck?” when he finds himself amongst the pixies and wild kids of Avalon, Peter’s world. Not only does a modern NYC teenager collide with Peter’s magical world, but since children don’t age, he fights alongside a girl from the American India wars and a boy who was a slave pre-Civil War. It’s a strange community, but Peter holds them together…or does he? Good and evil in this tale aren’t so easily identified. Characters are corrupted and possessed by magic and the influence of gods, men become demons, and children fight like beasts. Reading this novel made me want to get in a spear fight with someone, or dress up like one of the characters, richly illustrated by Brom throughout, for ComicCon next year. In other words, this novel affected me…in a good way.
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LibraryThing member ahappybooker
This is Peter Pan like I have never imagined it. The Child Thief is one of the most disturbing, violent, and frightening fairy tale re-imaginings I've ever read. It reminds me of the more grim versions of "Grimm's Fairy Tales" That being said, I was absolutely enthralled, I couldn't put it down.
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There were some times when I had to walk away from it for a bit, but I'm a bit squeamish when it comes to even a hint of gore. There were also some situations that were uncomfortable to read about such as child abuse, torture, and molestation. However, these things do happen and the way they were used in the story was fitting.

Peter finds his "lost boys" among the forgotten children, the runaways, the abused and neglected. He offers them a chance at a different kind of life in a magical world where they never have to grow up and each day is a new adventure. He does warn them, however, that there are also monsters. With his golden eyes and infectious smile, Peter finds it easy to win over these mistreated kids and he creates his own clan in mist shrouded Avalon, his refuge from the cruelties he, himself, experienced in the human world.

Brom paints a vivid world of dying beauty and frightening violence. I love the images he creates of the fairies, pixies, elves, and even the more dangerous creatures that lurk in the swamps and elsewhere. One thing that this author has done incredibly well is to blur the line between good and evil. I found myself, several times, feeling sympathy for a character I hated just a couple pages before.

Ultimately I feel that this is a extraordinary story, one that fans of dark fantasy will certainly want on their shelves. The characters, the world, the plot were all written so flawlessly that I easily lost myself within the pages. I would highly recommend The Child Thief and want to thank the person who recommended it to me.
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LibraryThing member Bonnie_Ferrante
This novel is as deliciously wicked as Peter Pan. Never Never Land is beautiful or grotesque, dependeing on your point of view. After all the battles and betrayals, deceits and delights, The Child Thief shows us that we do make the world with our minds. Everyone judges the "enemy" as evil and
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themselves as good. Nick is the only one who is able to see both sides and tries to enlighten the various camps, with mixed results. A wild, imaginative romp, The Child Thief also carries some important ideas about judging others, miscommunication, debt, friendship, love, and tunnel vision. The illustrations mid-book were as much a delight to the eyes as the words were a delight to the mind.
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LibraryThing member krau0098
I like Brom a lot so I was very excited to get an ARC of "The Child Thief" to review. For those new to Brom, he started doing awesome artwork. Then he did a phenominal picture book called "Plucker" and then he did another pretty cool book called "The Devil's Rose". So when I heard he had a full
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length novel I was like, really, how cool is that! This was actually an really great book; less artwork than other books but the writing was really good. This is definitely not a book for children; the violence and language would be too much even for an older child.

This book follows the stories of two boys. The first is Peter a half-elven child that rescues children who have no hope; he takes them to a new place, Avalon. The second child is Nick, a boy in a hopeless situation who runs from his problems, but is rescued by Peter. Peter takes Nick to Avalon to join the Devil's Children. The Devil's Children is a society of children warriors who have been in a centuries long battle with the Flesh Eaters and the scourge; both which threaten the existence of Avalon and it's Lady. In the beginning the story jumps between present time with Nick and Peter and the past where the story of Peter's past is told.

This is a re-telling of Peter Pan, but it owes more to the original story and surrounding mythology than to any Disney version. Brom describes horrific scenes in a beautiful yet brutal way, in a way his writing style reminds me a bit of Stephan King's Dark Tower series. The difference is that Brom also takes time to intricately describe scenes of intense beauty; although they are less frequent than the horrific scenes. This story is more of an epic than I thought it would be. We are talking about a battle that has gone on through the ages and about enemies whose fight has extended for generations.

This was not a quick read, it is not really a fun and happy read; the pace is deliberate and the writing a bit dense. The description and action is written in such a way that it takes time to read it all, but it is worth the time. I loved the description and the action scenes. The plot was not super fast, but went forward at a steady rate that built up the dread you felt for Avalon, Nick, Peter, and the Devils. This book was written like a piece of fine literature, a story that can really span time; but as such it takes some time and work to read.

Brom did an excellent job of making all the characters both likable and un-likable. All of the characters, even the heroes, had flaws that made you dislike them somewhat. All of the characters also had a past that made you sympathize with them; including the villains. The character building was masterfully done; but, for me, also contributed to the only downside of the book; I didn't really like any of the characters and I had some trouble getting really engaged in their stories.

Brom also did an excellent job of interweaving the tale of Peter Pan with mythology from a number of different origins. At the end of the book there is blurb telling his mythological sources for different aspects of "The Child Thief". It showed how much research really went into telling this tale and provided some interesting background.

This was a great tale. I strongly recommend it. People who like dark fantasy or dark fairy tale re-tellings will get a kick out of it. I pleasantly surprised out how well written this book was and I look forward to more full length novels from Brom.
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LibraryThing member cameling
The darkness that is hinted at in James Barrie's 'Peter and Wendy' is given full reign here. Peter, the boy who never grew up, is part human part faerie but instead of hanging around nursery windows looking for children to play with, he haunts playgrounds and parks near ghettos, looking for
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runaways and children who seek to escape from the horrors of their daily lives, children who should have been but are not protected by anyone. But is the Neverland he promises them all that they expect? Where is this island that's constantly shrouded in mist? Are they unknowingly substituting one horror for another?

But who is Peter and why is he luring boys onto a misty path where they must yet prove themselves strong and brave enough to survive before they're welcomed into his clan of Devils? As Peter leads his band of boys into deadly adventures against the Captain, it takes one boy, battling his own demons, to make realize that life, even in Neverland, is not a game without real consequences.
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LibraryThing member Bellydancer
This is a dark and absorbing retelling of Peter Pan. Peter steals kids and takes them into the mist towards either death or a life time spend fighting for the Queen. The kids he takes are troubled, in trouble or have a life of horror, so he thinks he is saving them from this, taking them to where
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they can be part of a family, be fed and loved.
Wow! an absolutely exceptional story filled with beautifully drawn images that complement the story with breathtaking elegance. This dark and haunting story that will leave the reader hiding under the bed covers. I would recommend this book to teens over 16 years as some of the content may be disturbing.
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LibraryThing member jshillingford
Brom does brilliant artwork; I own a couple of his art books and even purchased "The Plucker: An Illustrated Novel". So, I decided to gamble and pick up his first prose novel. Though I did get it through Amazon Vine, it was a novel I was planning to purchase anyway. I found this fairly well
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written, but I think Brom is better suited to the illustrated novel than outright prose.

"The Child Thief" is billed as dark fantasy, it is an interpretation of "Peter Pan" after all, yet I think it's more of a horror novel due to the graphic, brutal violence. Abused children is always a dark them, and Brom takes readers to a very dark place here. The graphic violence could be disturbing to many readers, but it didn't surprise me. Brom uses words to evoke images rather than a paint brush this time around. And that is exactly why I liked his illustrated novel better. Brom is subtle with his paintbrush - building an image and steering the eye. His words however, are more blunt, and the fewer the better. I thought Plucker was very well done, balancing words with artwork. This book is in your face. I did finish it, and even enjoyed the story, but I'm not sure I would try another of his novels - it would depend on the subject and other reviews.

Overall, I do recommend this to horror and even dark fantasy fans. It is an original take on a classic children's tale (reminding us that many medieval fairy tales were not meant for children). However, those fans that found the imagery too dark and disturbing may want to try Christopher Golden's "Strangewood". Unfortunately out of print, but a very good story about a child kidnapped by the imaginary world his father created.
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LibraryThing member Maaike15274
Amazing retelling of Peter Pan. All the classic elements of the story of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys are there and yet... there is so much more. Peter is a very complete and complex character. If you looked at the story objectively, you would say Peter is a sociopath but that would be too easy. The
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story and the character are too rich and complex. Not only Peter, but also the lost boys and all the other characters in this story. Even the bad ones...
I loved it, and you will too.
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LibraryThing member dystopiism
This book was amazing, Brom's writing style has a subtle dark humour to it that I couldn't get enough of. The story itself is a dark twist on Peter Pan, which is another reason that I found it wonderful, I love retellings of fairy tales in the not-so-sparkly way that they were meant to be told. I
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would recommend this to anyone who likes twisted tales of adventure and mischief.
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LibraryThing member Mintypink
Since there isn’t any room for six stars, I will settle for five. Brom’s retelling of the classic story of Peter Pan is beautifully dark, lushly complex and captivating. Peter, the child thief, manipulates children who have been abandoned, neglected or abused to come join him in a place that is
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safe. What he doesn’t tell these children is where exactly this place is, what the journey will be like, and what safe really means. We follow Nick, our protagonist, through this twisted story and the world is revealed to us mostly through his eyes. Occasionally Peter and other characters will lend us their eyes but the shifts in perspective serve as a reminder to reevaluate the concept of good and evil in a story we think we know well.
Brom started in illustration and is very well known for breathing life into the covers of many fantasy books as well as games. He writes as if painting, which is to say, beautifully. The rich details of this magic land are portrayed in such sharpness that it is all the more remarkable that they all join together to depict a unified, brilliant and strange world. Everything about this book is excellent, from the writing, the dialogue, the plot, the meaning behind it all, the organization, to really, everything. Everything about this book is excellent.
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LibraryThing member iluvvideo
An intriguing retelling of the Robin Hood story that has been de-sanitized, told in a style reminiscent of the Grimm Brothers.
Yes, the warnings are true. There is language, graphic violence and characters that act and think (!) like real honest to goodness people.

Robin, a golden eyed, pointy
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eared, perpetual youth, searches the real world for a special kind of child. Strong enough to come through the mist with him to Deviltree, yet needy enough to wish to leave their present surroundings and follow him willingly.

There resides a motley band of warriors, the self named Devils. They train, learn and live together; preparing for the quest to turn back the 'flesh eaters' who are trying to destroy Avalon; the last pure place in the world for magical folk. Avalon is protected by 'The Lady' a goddess like figure who guides everything in safety and prosperity.

Then come the 'flesh eaters'; settlers who have traveled far in search of a place to call their own. The residents of Avalon approach them to ask to be left alone and are attacked and murdered in the name of Christianity. Slowly the settlers need more room and are determined to drive the 'devils' out. The ensuing struggle turn the settlers into dark, twisted creatures, somewhat reminiscent of their inner selves. Still they fight on.

Who is right? Who is wrong? You decide. Both sides are flawed in their beliefs, especially in how to achieve them. The surprising ending will keep you riveted, turning page after page to reveal the surprising climax. Brom has created a true classic that will deserve our attention for a long time to come.
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LibraryThing member chenninger
I love Peter. No wait i hate Peter. Ok peter is the man. Though your lead to believe this will be like Peter Pan Brom took the story and twisted it in to his own masterpiece. Instead of poking pirates in the butt with his sword Peter guts drug dealers in the street saving children from certain
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death. Add some great artwork every few chapters and this adds up to a great adult dark fantasy.
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LibraryThing member whisperingfen
If you enjoy fantasy art, you might recognize the name Brom. I'm a fan of his style, he did the artwork for the Role-playing game Deadlands, etc. This is a book that was written and illustrated by him, and while the Art is what caught my eye in the store, his description of why he wrote the book
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was even more intriguing. I had never actually read the original Peter Pan, so I purchased that at the same time and read it to get a feel for the story in its non-Disney form. Peter Pan is a dark character, the Child Thief sets the character of Peter in modern times, in terms of where Peter goes to get children, but also adds Peter into older stories lore. The book is set in Avalon, and there are many references to King Arthur and his court. It's one of the better books that I've read in terms of taking a known character and making it more modern. It's a must read if you enjoy fairy tales as they were meant to be, frightening and thought provoking.
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LibraryThing member TallyDi
Engrossing and disturbing, this book re-tells the story of Peter Pan in a manner as opposite to the Disney version as you can imagine.
LibraryThing member Illise_Montoya
Hopefully, I'll expand on this later. It really ought to be a 2 1/2 stars, but alas, I cannot choose that. The book had great potential, some interesting characters, and was an intriguing re-imagining of the Peter Pan tale. But in Brom's attempts to make the story modern, I'm stuck reading about
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whiny adolescents and crotch-grabbing thugs with a Peter caricature that oscillates between awesome and unfavorably creepy. Maybe the latter was purposeful, but I didn't quite take to it. Sinister vibes would have worked best. But creepy? It just makes me think of pedophiles and annoying nutbags.

The descriptions overall were solid and very beautiful, but in the end, this book just didn't grab me.
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LibraryThing member MinosEN
I was recommended this book by a friend and went into it knowing little other than what was in the description.

After starting the book I found myself reading it constantly over the next couple days. It wasn't that I couldn't stop reading but my mind would drift back to the world created and I would
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want to return to it.

I felt the world was dark but not overly so, the flash backs told the back story well and I enjoyed Brom's spin on this story.
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LibraryThing member toddphillips77
Very brutal with mature themes... we purchased this book while we had Grade 10 students but will send it to the senior high school now that we are a 7 - 9 school. Some good illustrations as would be expected from a Brom work.
LibraryThing member seaofsorrow
not my genre...it was an ok read..
LibraryThing member bookwyrmm
The unnecessary gore and violence could be overlooked if the characters were more consistent.
LibraryThing member NCDonnas
This is Peter Pan like I have never imagined it. The Child Thief is one of the most disturbing, violent, and frightening fairy tale re-imaginings I've ever read. It reminds me of the more grim versions of "Grimm's Fairy Tales" That being said, I was absolutely enthralled, I couldn't put it down.
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There were some times when I had to walk away from it for a bit, but I'm a bit squeamish when it comes to even a hint of gore. There were also some situations that were uncomfortable to read about such as child abuse, torture, and molestation. However, these things do happen and the way they were used in the story was fitting.

Peter finds his "lost boys" among the forgotten children, the runaways, the abused and neglected. He offers them a chance at a different kind of life in a magical world where they never have to grow up and each day is a new adventure. He does warn them that there are also monsters. With his golden eyes and infectious smile, Peter finds it easy to win over these mistreated kids and he creates his own clan in mist shrouded Avalon, his refuge from the cruelties he, himself, experienced in the human world.

Brom paints a vivid world of dying beauty and frightening violence. I love the images he creates of the fairies, pixies, elves, and even the more dangerous creatures that lurk in the swamps. One thing that this author has done incredibly well is blur the line between good and evil. I found myself, several times, feeling sympathy for a character I hated just a couple pages before.

Ultimately I feel that this is a extraordinary story, one that fans of dark fantasy will certainly want on their shelves. The characters, the world, the plot were all written so flawlessly that I easily lost myself in the pages. I would highly recommend The Child Thief and want to thank the person who recommended it to me.
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LibraryThing member veeshee
After reading and adoring Lost Gods, I was eager to get my hands on more of Brom's work. This novel is one that I've heard a ton about and I was interested to see how Brom would take the story of Peter Pan and twist it into something sinister.

This is definitely a dark retelling of a childhood
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story, and Brom does not hold anything back. The author definitely transformed the Neverland of my childhood into something far wilder and I absolutely loved it! Faeries, monsters, references to Avalon.... it was definitely awesome to have this all melded together into one story. As usual, the illustrations were fantastic and really helped me imagine all of the different characters.

This novel was not nearly as dark as Lost Gods but what made it scary was how easily something that I had associated as innocent and fun could be twisted into something sinister. Peter was always just this fun guy but Brom managed to make me fear him ... and fear Neverland, too.

This book was a lengthy read for me, and while engrossing, I don't think I liked it as much as I adored Lost Gods. However, this is still a superb story with that classic artwork style Brom is known for and a dark story that will haunt you afterwards!
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LibraryThing member librarianlion
After reading Slewfoot and the Child Thief, I think I have found a new favorite author!! Brom kept me on my toes, anxiously anticipating each page. I thought I knew where this book was going, and it kept taking me for a new turn! All while continuing to build believable, lovable characters and
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palpable conflict in a gritty fantasy world not unlike our own. I also appreciate how much Brom borrowed from Scottish folklore!
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Awards

Chesley Award (Nominee — 2010)

Language

Original publication date

2009

Physical description

496 p.; 9.6 inches

ISBN

0061671339 / 9780061671333
Page: 0.1822 seconds