Peter Pan, Serial Killer   Leave a comment

Brom. THE CHILD THIEF; a novel. HarperCollins, c2009. 481 p.  illus.

 

            No Captain Hook. No Tinkerbelle. No Wendy and her brothers in pajamas. No pirates and no Indians. No flying. No third star to the right and straight on till morning. No Neverland.  Brom’s 2009 novel, THE CHILD THIEF, is Peter Pan as you have never seen him before.

Scottish novelist James M. Barrie first created Peter Pan as a character in his story “The Little White Bird” way back in 1902. He really gave form to the character in his novel “Peter and Wendy in 1911. The original Peter Pan was the boy who wouldn’t grow up, and that’s what I admired most about him—that he clung to his childhood and immortality when everyone else surrendered, grew up, grew old, and died. That original character was not quite the impish prankster that Disney made out of the character. He was more of a heartless sociopath—a child without a conscience.

 

Neverland is replaced with the Isle of Avalon—Arthurian and Celtic overtones are fully intended. This is a fairyland ruled by Modron, also known as the Lady (as in The Lady of the Lake), full of all the creatures of Faery. It is, however, not a happy place. It is a dying place, plagued with horrors on all sides.

And into this world Peter brings the lost children. He looks for those who are lost, abandoned, and desperate, and lures them into the Mists to arrive in Avalon where they never grow old and die. They just die. He brings them to be his soldiers in the centuries-long war with the Flesh Eaters, corrupted Pilgrims who came to the Enchanted Island by chance, wreaked havoc with their guns and intolerant Christianity, were trapped there and turned into monsters.

Brom’s island is somewhat more complicated than either Barrie’s or Disney’s. The old Celtic gods lived there, most notably Herne, the Horned One.  And Avallach, and Modron, and Jenny Greenteeth!   And there is a troll, rather an admirable character, named Tanngnost. (I’m glad there was a troll in the story.)

With a little more discretion on the author’s part THE CHILD THIEF could have been a great Young Adult novel, but Brom lives in a very nasty gritty world where the only word anyone has to express pain, fear, and frustration is the participle of fuck.  I have to say that I got fucking tired of all the fucking language in the mouths of all the fucked-up characters. But after a while, I focused on the action and didn’t give a fuck about the fucking conversations any more.

Language aside, this is a strong and memorable novel that will haunt you long after you finish reading it. Brom also illustrated it superbly with pencil drawings and paintings. He can do great moody portraits—doesn’t seem to be that interested in illustrating the action scenes. I’d recommend the book to anyone who is a fan of strong fantasy.

 

–Ken St. Andre, April 13, 2009

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Posted April 14, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

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