I love to read retellings of fairy tales. I have read countless Cinderella stories, and many Alice in Wonderlands. I like when an author can take a classic story and add new ideas to it, giving depth to formerly simplistic characters.
Why do I bring this up? The Child Thief is the story of Peter Pan, but unlike any Peter Pan you have ever read, guaranteed. It’s dark, and definitely not a children’s book.
In Brom’s story, Peter is the child of a fairy and human, an abomination of sorts. He does not know who his father is, and he just doesn’t fit in on Earth. When Peter is tricked into going to Avalon, the home of the fae, he gets into all sorts of trouble trying to protect the “Lady” of the land, who rules all. From here, he can also traverse the dangerous Mist that separates Avalon from Earth. Peter uses this ability to his advantage to “steal” children and bring them back to Avalon to join his gang of child warriors, the Devils. However, Peter only steals children with serious problems on Earth, such as abuse, homelessness, or neglect. Once in Avalon, the children never age. The magic of childhood keeps them as they are, but they become stronger, faster, and more deadly. They need these skills since Avalon is not a happy place. The “Flesh-Eaters” are men turned to monsters who are terrorizing the once-pleasant land. They eat anything, hence their name, and they are destroying the forests of Avalon. They also kill any Devil who comes near. The children brought to this world by Peter must fight to survive, and are in constant danger of the many evils lurking.
This book covers a lot of ground, going back and forth between different perspectives, including Nick, a recently recruited Devil who is struggling with his adjustment to the new way of life. A lot of his observances relay the discrepancy between how Peter sees Avalon and how it really is. You never know whether to love or hate Peter. He tries to do good, but he also does so much evil. His moral compass is questionable, but his innocence is undeniable. Many hate him and others worship him, making him such a strong character to support the weight of this book.
The Child Thief covers a great number of issues over the course of the book. It shifts back in time occasionally, and creates a new world for the reader to be immersed in. Try not to be intimidated by the size (it’s a big book), because once you dive into the story, you need to see how it ends. And it is a seriously good ending.