Saturday, March 8, 2014

Peter Pan's tale told, at last, with truth and guts: THE CHILD THIEF by Brom


$19.99 trade paper, available now

Rating: 5* of five

The Publisher Says: Peter is quick, daring, and full of mischief—and like all boys, he loves to play, though his games often end in blood. His eyes are sparkling gold, and when he graces you with his smile you are his friend for life, but his promised land is not Neverland.

Fourteen-year-old Nick would have been murdered by the drug dealers preying on his family had Peter not saved him. Now the irresistibly charismatic wild boy wants Nick to follow him to a secret place of great adventure, where magic is alive and you never grow old. Even though he is wary of Peter's crazy talk of faeries and monsters, Nick agrees. After all, New York City is no longer safe for him, and what more could he possibly lose?

There is always more to lose.

Accompanying Peter to a gray and ravished island that was once a lush, enchanted paradise, Nick finds himself unwittingly recruited for a war that has raged for centuries—one where he must learn to fight or die among the "Devils," Peter's savage tribe of lost and stolen children.

There, Peter's dark past is revealed: left to wolves as an infant, despised and hunted, Peter moves restlessly between the worlds of faerie and man. The Child Thief is a leader of bloodthirsty children, a brave friend, and a creature driven to do whatever he must to stop the "Flesh-eaters" and save the last, wild magic in this dying land.

My Review: Retelling the Peter Pan legend with heaping helpings of Celtic myth, genuine teenage angst, and surprisingly scary-to-me horror. I think the huge majority of people remember the basics of the story, Peter enticing kids off to Neverland to fight Captain Hook and never, ever grow up, right? Well, same here, only Neverland is one emm-effin' SCARY-ASS place, the kids are society's fallen-through-the-cracks abusees, runaways, and misfits, and the reason they never grow up is they mostly die in their first few minutes there.

Peter himself, the Happy Sociopath, well, his backstory is one of the revelations of the book...he's a changeling child, an apparently immortal and certainly immoral survivor of pagan Ireland. The author delved deeply into the Celtic myths, and has gifted us with a reconstruction of the actual, underlying story, trimmed of repetition, variations among the versions smoothed out, selectively applied, and a new, vibrant, and compelling tale made from the old, raggedy myths.

It's superb. It's 480pp long. It's *beautifully* illustrated. It's enormous, at 7 x 10. I adore it, book and content both. No one may borrow my copy, a gift from a ridiculously generous friend, because if a corner gets bent or a page gets food-baptized, There Will Be Blood.

I wasn't much of a child. I thought about stuff kids just don't, like why it was okay for girls to have different names after they got married, but not boys; why the Bible said it was okay to fuck your daughters like Lot did, but not other boys; and that all those yahoos clappin' for Tinkerbelle, clearly the *lamest* fairy ever in the history of fairies, should oughta just go straight to the milk and cookies and leave me alone with the gin. Disney shit made me gaseous, as I said to my mother, who paused, laughed, and never inflicted anything Disney on me again. So it was with great and well-founded trepidation that, after reading a gushsome review of this book, I decided to move out of my comfort zone and give it a whirl.

Oh my heck.

I had to put it down every so often because the pain in my gouty wrists and fingers got so nasty, and no book-holding device I possess was up to this tome's heft (lost that Levenger reading desk, dammit!). And a darn good thing, too, since I was rather often scared poopless by some action or another. It's a real story, this Child Thief...a real, balls-out, the-world's-a-meanass-place Matterhorn of a journey, made in excellent company and told in truthsome, sparklingly grim prose.

I want Tim Burton to make this mini-series, starring Johnny Depp as Peter, don't care how old he is he's the *perfect* beautiful sociopath with no fear for scare...animate it, do the thing they did with The Polar Express whatever that's called, and BTW that's one of the all-time great Xmas stories isn't it?, but let's get this fucker made (to quote Bela Lugosi from Ed Wood, another Depp masterpiece) and not shilly-shally!

In case you can't tell, this book is Recommended with Joy.

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