Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Thief of Always by #CliveBarker (#Favorite #Book Spotlight)

From the back blurb on my copy-

A magical book for readers of all ages from the inimitable Clive Barker, illustrated with more than forty of his own drawings.

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...

There 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...

"In a tale that manages to be both cute and horrifying, bestselling novelist and screenwriter Barker puts the dark side back into childhood fantasy."- Publishers Weekly

Some 10 odd years or more ago, I knew of Clive Barker as a master of horror novels, most famously because his Hellbound Heart was made into the movie Hellraiser and its sequels, but I hadn't actually read any of his books until a very close friend suggested I start by reading Clive's children's fantasy novel, The Thief of Always. He said it was a great introduction to Barker's work for a first timer like myself.

I fell in love with this book immediately from the first sentence. The vibrant descriptive writing sucked me in and kept me there until I finished the book in short order. This was, as I said, a good decade ago, but the story's message about not wasting your time, your life away, of not taking the important things for granted, spoke volumes to me. I laughed, I shuddered in fear and bawled my eyes out while reading this book.

I can't say I've ever read any other Clive Barker novels, though I might have read Hellbound Heart, but I still enjoy this story immensely. In fact, I recently reread it and remembered why I loved it so, all over again. I loved it so much, that I decided my 9-year-old daughter was old enough to enjoy it and so, for several nights at bedtime, I would read a chapter or two to her.

It was a very emotional ride for both of us, sharing in those moments of fear, her eyes widening in anticipation about what might happen next, the sadness in her tears at the revelation about what the House truly was, the creatures that seemed sad and trapped there, and the triumph of Harvey and his friend Wendall in rectifying the wrongs done by Mr. Hood. We laughed, shuddered in fear and bawled our eyes out together. And there was NOTHING like sharing that story with my daughter, not only because it was a book of my heart that I enjoyed, but because I know it will be a favorite book of HERS the rest of her life as well and I'm thrilled to give her a gift like that, for her to appreciated brilliant writing and vivid imagery in a well told story.

This is definitely one for the bookshelf and one to reread over and over. I would highly recommend it for children and adults, alike.

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