I've gotten out of the habit of writing reviews for whatever I'm reading because it usually involves me staring at the computer screen and forgetting every single detail of the book. That’s not the case for The Child Thief, however. I can’t seem to stop thinking about this one so Review Time it is.
I’d heard amazing things about this one from at least three different people with vastly different tastes in reading material. It interested me enough to pick up a copy at the bookstore but what really hooked me was the art. Oh, my God, the art. To say it’s beautiful is a vast understatement and to use more extravagant words would somehow seem disingenuous. Since art is so subjective it would also be a waste of space to try to explain. So let me just skip the description and give you a sampling.
That’s Peter. Looks like a nice guy, huh?
Yeah, not so much.
Everyone who recommended this book to me used the same words: It’s dark.
They weren’t joking. Bad, bad things happen in this book. It starts off with a near rape scene and doesn’t get cheerier. I was certain that this was going to be the dreariest, most depressing retelling imaginable and in some ways it is. But I also felt sympathetic towards a lot of the characters, even the “bad guys”. The quotes are because I can’t necessarily say that more than two of the characters in this book are only evil. I mean, the Reverends, yea, totes evil.
I mean, LOOK AT THAT. *shudders*
BUT the rest of the characters are disturbingly human and Brom uses that to great effect.
Frequently, as soon as I assumed a character was good/bad they did something terrible/kind and I was left feeling wrong-footed… but in a good way. Most of the characters, though, I found to be overwhelmingly sad.
Except the Reverends. Screw them.
Peter is a troubled, cruel, flippant creature but so very interesting to read. Brom really hit on what it would be like if a child were given endless youth and a cause worth killing for. The back story that he was given gave Peter a lot more depth than I feel the source material did and I really appreciated that the time was taken to explain the intricacies in his moral character. Does anyone else ever have that experience when you’re reading a morally off-kilter character and you suddenly look up from the book and go “Okay, but why?” I do all the time and I love it when the author bothers to fill in the reader.
Nick was interesting but not nearly as interesting as Peter, the Captain or Ulfger. I felt his was supposed to be the character that more people could relate to but sometimes I just don’t want to relate to a character. I liked reading him but, like Harry Potter, he was my least favorite character. But really, he didn’t stand a chance next to a lot of the characters… like Ulfger.
Ulfger defines batshit. His storyline is tragic and horrible but, first and foremost, he defines a personality train wreck. Seriously, someone get him a Risperdal ice cream cone. And you might want to take a sedative before you read any parts with the sisters. Seriously, look at… no, you know what? You get to be surprised by them. Merry Christmas.
Also, I’ve read a lot of books where it felt a little like the author got bogged down in so much plot and darkness that they gave certain characters Get Out of Your Own Personal Hell Free cards. Ya know, took the easy way out. That affliction apparently doesn’t bother Brom. This book is jacked up to the very end. Goblin bless you, Brom.
Aside from the characters, there was a lot I loved about this book. Avalon (Neverland) was lushly imagined and vividly detailed on the page. The Devils (Lost Boys) had distinctive personalities. The plot was well-paced and definitely not a carbon copy gone mad. It was easy to look at the story and see the parts taken from the original. Yet it was like Brom took that, hit it with a sledge hammer and used the shattered remains to piece together an altogether different story.
So what I’m trying to say is if you like classic stories and characters that have all been made slightly psychotic and a lot more adult, you definitely need to read this book.