I was hesitant to buy this book, because unless you’re Cher, you can’t pull off the monosyllable, one name without sounding like a pretentious douche-nozzle. But the Barnes & Noble Buy-2-Get-the-3rd-Free table is an irresistible temptress.
The Child Thief is a grittier reboot of Peter Pan. Neverland is actually the cloaked in mist isle of Avalon. Currently the island is besieged by the fleasheaters – a group of pilgrims who mistaken washed up on Avalon’s shore trying to get to the New World. The faerie folk and other magical creatures that live on Avalon came on a diplomatic mission to open talks with the new settlers and were massacred. Peter is half faerie, but after a falling out with the ruling faeries, he took an isolated part of the forest for himself. He now travels to the real world and leads children living on the fringes back with him to be soldiers of Avalon.
Peter meets Nick, a 14 year old kid on the run from drug dealers. He brings him back to Avalon, to join his clan, The Devils. The Devils are children Peter has brought back and trained as soldiers. Sekeu, basically analogous to Tiger Lily, is peter’s second in command; she is a Native American from the early days of the discovery of America. Nick doesn’t take the transition to soldiering in Avalon very well. He starts to show the signs of becoming a Flesheater himself.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed the book (in the beginning). Brom is foremost an artist and while his writing style is a bit basic, he created an intriguing story. However, thematically, he is heavy handed. The book is a big metaphor for civilization versus nature, organized religion versus spirituality (clap your hands if you believe!). The story still captivated me, until the ending. Peter has no real character development by the final act. Sure, he goes the independent route, but that choice felt hollow to me. He STILL is getting what he wants with little to no concern for anyone else. The whole book was leading him down the path to change his behavior and Brom went with an ending akin to giving us a pat on the head and a little push on our way.