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The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

Imagine a house where every morning was Christmas and every night was Halloween. A house where anything you ever dreamed of wanting was in your hands before you even imagined it. A special place where childhood fantasies are reality, reality is fantasy, and horror is just a lake away. Welcome, children, to Holiday House.

From the mind of horror master Clive Barker comes this beautiful and haunting childrenís fable, The Thief of Always. Originally published in 1992 with a film adaptation in the works, Barkerís classic twist on the magical holiday childrenís tale, years after release, is still both touching and terrifying.

Harvey Swick is a boy who has grown bored with mundane routines. While wandering and pondering his fate, he loses himself in a strange neighborhood and is meant by a kindly, goblin-like fellow calling himself Rictus. Rictus invites Harvey to a magical place, a place meant for children: The Holiday House. Once there, he meets two other children and befriends them. All three fall under the care of the kindly Ms. Griffin and their mysterious benefactor, Mr. Hood, who is mentioned as the owner and creator of the magical house but who is never seen. For a time, the three children are immensely happy. Each morning when they awaken, a beautiful Christmas tree loaded with presents awaits them; every night, Jack-o-Lanterns and an overabundance of candy greet them after a hard day of playing. One of the Harvey's new friends, Lulu, begins acting strangely and becomes entranced by the foreboding and sinister lake full of strange, mutant-like fish. As the tale unfolds, so do the underlying secrets and horrors of Holiday House, and young Harvey finds himself in a battle for his very soul.

The Thief of Always favors a character-driven and situation-based story while leaving out Barkerís trademark love of gore. The story is much dark fantasy and adventure as it is horror. Although a spooky yarn, The Thief of Always is truly child-friendly and promotes the typical qualities of young literary heroes that parents and children alike have come to adore; resourcefulness, friendship, strength, and courage. As the story unfolds, Harvey grows from a self-centered, disillusioned child to a selfless and powerful boy who inevitably encounters and confronts the horrors before him by facing his own demons and fears. The Thief of Always is one the whole family is sure to enjoy, even if the nightlights have to be kept on afterward.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Justin D. Davis. All rights reserved.
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