The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

“The great gray beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive.” And from this point forward I was so thoroughly pulled into young Harvey’s life that I forgot my own for a couple of days.

Bored by the dreary month of February, Harvey wishes to have some fun and is rewarded by the appearance of Mr. Rictus, whose name alone should give some indication of foreboding. Mr. Rictus promises to take Harvey away from his horrible doldrums to an enchanting place called the Holiday House where he can have fun all the day long everyday.

Of course, there’s a price to be paid for a life of non-stop fun, but Barker has created an engaging hero in Harvey and carries him through his adventures with grace and imagination. Barker also illustrates this novel with images that can be more disturbing than the text in some places, but the overall effect is marvelous.

This is not a trite young adult novel where everything works out peachy with no ramifications for the protagonist. A lesson learned through adversity can be the most treasured lesson of all, and there is a definite feeling at the end of this novel that Harvey will carry the lessons learned from Holiday House like a childhood scar. Creepy, engaging, and populated with fascinating characters, The Thief of Always is a treat.

My Rating:

2 thoughts on “The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

  1. Dragon – I’m glad you gave Mr. Barker another chance. Though I have personally enjoyed and been touched deeply by all of his works, I’ve had the pleasure of reading ; was most surprised by the first I read, “The Thief Of Always.” I remembered being terrified by the Hell Raiser movies as a child and get creeped out by them more now as a big boy. So hearing Clive wrote a juvenile book was shocking and after i read it i was immediately in love with it. It’s been a few years now but I think I’ll go pull it off the shelf and get lot in that house again.

  2. Thank you, Devlin, but I simply knew with so many people advocating so strongly for Mr. B, there had to be something that I was missing, but then again, that is the thing that has always frustrated me with his novels. Writing young adult novels that are intelligent, witty and convey a message is probably one of the most difficult genres to master, and I believe that Mr. B did an excellent job with “The Thief of Always.” The novel was poetic, creepy, and full of the kind of imagery and energy that excites young minds into discovery without pandering to parental sheltering. Here at the Holiday House, evil is a living thing preserved and grown obscene by the greed and superficiality of its inhabitants only to be finally defeated by the clever child who can see beyond Mr. Hood’s ostentation. Only by looking deeply do we truly see, so I am quite happy that I took the opportunity to look more deeply into Mr. Barker’s novels, and Devlin, I believe that you will enjoy “The Thief of Always” just as much the second time around. Read on, my Wild Things . . .

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