Although I have not been able to bring myself to read more than a bit of Barker's other works, this one is beautifully plotted and beautifully written. I have read it twice. It reads like a modern fairy tale, and I feel that it is mistakenly classified as horror. Granted, horror is an element in many fairy tales, but the fear in this one is nothing like what you find, for instance, in a Stephen King story. It is the delicious fear of a fairy tale, when you know that the bad thing could never really happen to anybody, but the writer has gotten you to suspend disbelief. There is a sort of moral to the story, too, which is another frequent element in fairy tales, but I must leave the reader to discover for himself what that it, because I don't want to give away the ending.
What a great story. I literally read this in about two hours. It was so good I couldn't put it down. I've read some of Barker's work in the past and they've been pretty heavy works. This was different. I almost want to say it was written with the teen or young adult in mind, as it was a very quick and easy read. Despite that, the story was great.
Mr. Hood's house had stood for a thousand years tempting children bored with their lives and looking for excitement. There is a price to pay for the bliss that the children receive. Harvey is different however, he sees through the charade and eventually sees the dark side of the house. He was the will power and courage to fight back against the house.
Some things seemed a bit stretched, but I'll forgive these minor issues because of the quality of this novel. I wish Clive would write more novels like this one. Great stuff.
Read this from cover to cover in 2 days-suspenseful. But the big surprise was when I was describing it to my 8 yr old daughter, she wanted to read it. We ended up reading it aloud on a car trip, and everytime we stopped (dry mouth-LOL), my husband who was driving, begged us to keep going! I don't re-read many books, but would definitely read this again, and I'm not usually a fan of science-fiction or suspense
This was an excellent book, every bit as imaginative (and disturbing) as I've come to expect from the works of Clive Barker. While not especially gory like some of his other films and novels, there is a distinct sense of menace and suspense throughout the novel, that really keeps the reader entranced. NOT recommended for young readers, though - there's an earlier version of this book that's formatted to look like a childrens story book, which it is most definitely not. Teens and up however, particularly those who are fans of fantasy/horror, will love it.
The hero of "The Thief of Always" is a 10 year-old boy named Harvey. Boredom on a miserable February day causes Harvey to wish for "some fun." Suddenly, a rather repulsive and mysterious creature named Rictus enters Harvey's bedroom and invites him on a holiday where there will be endless fun. Harvey, a wise little boy, hesitates, but soon succumbs to the invitation.
Harvey finds himself as a guest at Holiday House--the home of the mysterious Mr Hood. There are two other children there--Wendell, and Lulu. At first, Harvey has a simply wonderful time--all his wishes come true. But there is something rather strange going on--each day passes through 4 seasons--spring in the morning, long hot summer days in the afternoon, every evening is Hallowe'en, and every night is Christmas. It's all a little too good to be true, and Harvey begins to ask questions. Mrs Griffin, the housekeeper, seems too terrified to answer and admonishes Harvey to enjoy each day, but Harvey's persistence and curiosity eventually lead him to the horrible truth.
Even though I was past middle age when I read this book for the first time, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a well-written and interesting story.
I notice that some of the listings contain the word "horror." The book does have some very scary moments, but it does not fall under my idea of a horror story (a la Stephen King, for example); the fantasy element makes it much more like a long and scary fairy tale. It even has the moral undertones of a fairy tale, but they are so woven into the fabric of the story that one is hardly aware of them.
I liked this book so much that I looked for others by Clive Barker, but didn't like them enough to read them. This one is in a class by itself. Humorous, gripping, well-written, and with a satisfying ending.
Harvey, a little boy, is bored on a rainy day. A stranger with an unusually large grin appears and leads him to a house where he can have and do whatever he wants. From here the story takes a leap from this predictable storyline to a compelling eeriness. Initially, Glover's reading is as dimensionless as the story's beginning. As the story becomes creepier, Glover's voice becomes appropriately unsettling. He gives uncanny reality to the hosts of the house by delivering their sense of humor as well. Though it is even disturbing to adults, the tale never becomes graphically violent and is suitable for children.
I missed the tiny notice on the back cover stating "Ages 10 up." I struggled through it and it was pleasant- won't scare your kid. I grew up on Grimm's Fairy Tales- Screams, torture, cooked and eaten alive, betrayal- Now THAT'S more like it!
A young man who was boxing my items at Costco told me this was his all time favorite holiday story, so I decided to read it to see if my students would like it. It's a really good story with the idea that special times are special because they don't happen every day, and even a kid can overcome immediate gratification and fear in order to hold out for the joy found in just living eveyday.
Jessica R. reviewed The Thief of Always/Cassettes on
Not only is the book great, I had to read my copy once more before I sent it off, but the illustrations in it are phenomenal as well! I would completely recommend this book to anyone who has wished their days go faster... :)
the young adult book Barker wrote before Abarat, and definately the better of the two (though i liked abarat just fine). This story is nice and creepy with kids being spirited into the Holiday House, upon which they find themselves LOCKED! But when everyday is filled with holidays (christmas dinner and halloween everynight) what more could a kid want? they begin to find weird happenings and creatures in, and around, the house and ultimately they must win back their freedom.
This was my first Clive Barker book. It was very off my path of reading which I am trying to accomplish this year. I enjoyed this tale of a boy who is shown a way to a house where a day is a year in your life. Your wishes are granted, except the wish to leave. An entertaining quick read.
Harvey is 10 years old and bored. School is boring, the weather is boring and there is nothing to look forward to in the middle of boring old February. So when a stranger invites Harvey to visit Holiday House, he is suspicious but eventually gives in to his longing for something fun and different.
At first, Holiday House is everything the stranger promised: the weather is beautiful, every day is Christmas and there is food and treats aplenty. Plus, Harvey enjoys the company of two other children at Holiday House, Wendell and Lulu. Of course, Holiday House is not the wonderful paradise it pretends to be. All those presents and toys and treats have to be paid for. And the price is very steep, indeed.
This was an OK story, rather predictable with what I felt was a weak ending. I mean, why would a creature as old and experienced as Mr. Hood, the power behind the house, fall for the very obvious trick that Harvey pulled on him?
The blurbs in the front of the book claim it is intended for teens and adults but I think most adults would find it as predictable as I did. It was not a surprise that Holiday House turns out to be a snare and a trap and that Mr. Hood is feeding on the souls of all the lost children that end up there. Or that Harvey is the hero who will rise to the occasion and rescue not only himself but all the lost children. Or even that each day at Holiday House is a year in the real world. I can't recommend this book for adults but kids would probably enjoy it.
Lauren T. reviewed The Thief of Always/Cassettes on
The author set up an interesting premise- but once the main character decided he was going to go up against the bad guys- he encountered NO obstacles. He wanted to fight the bad guys, he fought the bad guys and then he won... not interesting...
Harvey is bored. Bored with school. Bored with winter. Bored with being treated like a kid. Then he meets Rictus. The goblin stranger takes Harvey on vacation to a magical house where everyday is an endless round of fun....until Harvey discovers the final horrifying secret. Dozens of children have gone into Holiday House, but not one has ever come out.
Mr. Hood's Holiday House has stood for a thousand years, welcoming countless children into its embrace. It is a blace of miracles, a blissful round of treats and seasons, wehre every childhood whim may be satisfied...
Thiere is a price to be paid, of course, but young Harvey Swick, bored with his life and beguiled by Mr. Hood's wonders, does not stop to consider the consequences. It is onle when the House shows its darker face- when Harvey discovers the pitiful creatures that dwell in its shadows- that he comes to doube mr. Hood's philanthropy.
The House and its mysterious architect are not about to release their captive without a battle, however. Mr. Hood has ambitions for his new guest, for Harvey's soul burns brighter than any soul he has encountered in a thousand years...
Mr. Hood's Holiday House has stood for a thousand years, welcoming countless children into its embrace. It is a place of miracles, a blissful round of treats and seasons, where every childhood whim may be satisfied.
Thyere is a price to be paid, of course, but young Harvey Swick, bored with his life and beguiled by Mr.Hood's wonders, does not stop to consider the consequences. It is only when the House shows its darker face-when Harvey discovers the pitiful creatures that dwell in its shadows-that he comes to doubt Mr.Hood's philanthropy.
The House and its mysterious architect are not about to release their captive without a battle, however. Mr.Hood has ambitions for his new guest, for Harvey's soul burns brighter than any soul he has encountered in a thousand years....