The Child Thief

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The Child Thief is a 2009 dark fantasy novel by the artist and novelist Gerald Brom.[1] A dark retelling of the stories of Peter Pan and The Lost Boys, Brom takes many liberties with the originals by J M Barrie. Brom incorporates monsters and faeries well alongside a poverty-ridden horrific heap of a sad populace in New York.

Synopsis[edit]

The novel begins with a horrifying prologue. A young girl awaits an abusive father, only to be rescued by a boy with auburn hair, freckles, pointy ears, and golden eyes. He comforts the girl, telling her of a place where there are no grown-ups and lots of adventure. The girl goes with him.

The novel follows several characters in their adventures through Avalon. Brom makes liberal use of Celtic and Scottish mythology as, in a parallel storyline, he describes Peter's history from birth to Lord of Deviltree.

Peter spends his time searching for new children to take back to Avalon. Always searching in the poorest neighborhoods, Peter only takes those children that are abused, forgotten, or, his personal favorite, runaways. Many children die in the mist. Many more die fighting for their lives in Avalon, and Peter must go out seeking blood for Deviltree.

Avalon is an enchanted isle in its final death throes. Peter's clan of human children is the final force between the Flesh Eaters and The Lady. The Lady's magic keeps Avalon alive and the mist up to keep out unwanted humans while, unfortunately, keeping the Flesh Eaters in. The Lady is trapped within the heart of Avalon, a prisoner in her own land by her nephew and Avalon's heir apparent, Lord Ulfger.

The children at Deviltree are also affected by the magic of Avalon. However, being children, they were not twisted into malicious scaly creatures. Instead they grew strong, fast, and amazingly powerful. They were honed into warriors, fighting alongside Peter to save Avalon and The Lady and rid the land of the Flesh Eaters.

The story reaches its climax with all of the forces meeting in a final unexpected clash that will shake the order of things in both worlds forever.

Literary analysis[edit]

Children as warriors[edit]

The children become merciless, bloodthirsty and savage. Taken from abusive homes, they leave for a place where there are children from similar backgrounds. Brom discusses [2] how this relates to gang culture. The children are slowly affected by Avalon's magic and become a powerful force. This knowledge of superiority coupled with the right circumstance could easily cause innocent children to become killing machines. Judging from what goes on in modern gang culture, seeing how quick teens are to define their own morals, to justify any action no matter how horrific, I believe it wouldn’t be that hard.(Brom, The Child Thief)

Humans as monsters[edit]

The Flesh Eaters were Christians in search of a place to live without anything that contradicts their belief systems. The Reverend, once a good man, if somewhat bigoted, becomes a twisted soul that takes sadistic pleasure in torturing children. The people are led deeper and deeper into insanity as the magic of Avalon affects them. The Flesh Eaters are evil creatures, but the reader is introduced to their side of the story. They want to go home to families and away from this island, and put what they want ahead of all decency. This still leaves the question of whether you could go anywhere to be safe from anything that contradicts your beliefs.

The beasts of Avalon, however, are (before the Flesh Eaters) a light and airy people that worry more about merriment and joy than seriousness or war. They worship pagan gods with true powers that live among them. They want the same thing as the Flesh Eaters, for them to leave and never return.

The beasts are a joyous lot and if it were not for the arrival of the flesh eaters, they would be yet in a similar situation. Brom finally reveals the story of the Flesh Eaters, and although it doesn't change their evil action, it does explain how they got there. The reader is left to decide for themselves who to root for.

Characters[edit]

Devils[edit]

  • Peter : A main character and "Lord" of Deviltree, his only apparent goal is to gather children to fight the Flesh Eaters and save Lady Modron. Peter's mood often changes between that of a hardened warrior and a child, especially when recalling fallen Devils. He is described to have red hair, pale, freckled skin, golden eyes, and pointy ears. While wearing hand-stitched leather pants with pointy-toed shoes sewn in, a raggedy, tailed tuxedo jacket over a black hoodie, and a rawhide pack.
  • Nick : A major character, Nick's story begins as he runs away from home, where a drug lord tenant and his minions torment Nick, his mother, and his grandmother. He is cornered by several other boys when Peter comes to his rescue. Once they are through the Mist he is left with the other Devils as a "new blood". Nick is fourteen, slender and a bit small for his age, with dark, choppy bangs, and a pallid complexion.
  • Cricket : A New Blood at Deviltree, she arrived there a little before Nick. It is implied she was the girl form the prologue. She becomes good friends with Nick, and there is some attraction between them. She has a scar above her ear where her hair no longer grows, from before she came to Avalon.
  • Sekeu : The most experienced warrior at Deviltree with the exception of Peter, she has been in Avalon since the first colonists settled in America. She is Native American, with golden eyes, dark hair, lean, muscular features, and a regal bearing. She teaches the New Bloods at Deviltree how to fight, and acts as leader when Peter is out.
  • Leroy : The most experienced of the New Blood, Leroy is crafty and self-serving. He bullies and intimidates Nick, and eventually becomes a Devil by falsely claiming to have performed Nick's acts of bravery.
  • The Lady: Peter and his followers live to serve the Lady. Lady Modron (also known as The Lady of the Lake), daughter of the god Avallach, rules as the queen of Avalon. It appears that she uses her healing powers to entrance the inhabitants of Avalon into a spell of unconditional love, and devotion to her and Avalon itself.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.bromart.com
  2. ^ The Child Thief - Brom, HarperCollins, 2009