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Clive Barker’s book “The Thief of Always” is a horror story for a younger audience. In it, a young boy, Harvey Swick, tired of school and being stuck in what feels like a never ending February, allows himself to be tempted by the mysterious Rictus to visit the holiday house, a place where its visitors, always children, have all their favorite foods, play all day, and are given whatever they want. The only rule is that they must never ask about the owner of the house, the unseen Mr. Hood.
The tone is light, reminiscent of Neil Gaimen’s work. The characters are interesting, but the story somewhat weak, seeming a bit too easy. There are a few mildly frightening parts; in particular, the character Carna is quite disturbing. The Thief of Always has none of the true horror of Stephen King and Peter Straub’s epic child’s tale “The Talisman”. While it kept my interest until the end, I doubt it will leave a lasting impression. I’d be interested to hear a young person’s thoughts on it.