|The Child Thief is Broms (no
first name given) third book, and the first by him I have read. The Child Thief
is an updating of the J.M Barrie classic Peter Pan, a book
with which to my regret I am not familiar. Brom is better known for his illustrations and
artwork, for which he has an impressive set of credits.
The Child Thief
can be read at two levels: firstly and with some difficulty, as a novel in its own right
independent of the Peter Pan original; and secondly, as a sequel
to that book. As my knowledge of Peter Pan is limited to the
Disney cartoon I can only follow the first course of review.
I will declare now that I found this book a most difficult read, although it started
with much promise indeed such promise that I was looking forward to sitting down to
a glorious read and then grand expectation turned to bitter disappointment. How did
that disappointment arise? Through the accursed authors decision to embellish the
original work and supply a back story to Peter Pan, his Never Land and its inhabitants,
especially Peters primary foes the pirates. Not much distance in to the book and I
was reading about Peters early life in some pagan Britain (where the inhabitants
grew potatoes!), his half fairy heritage and his discovery of the courts of fairy Avalon
(a quick check on Wikipedia shows that all these arose fresh from Broms
imagination). At this point I almost threw the book across the room as I
didnt want to break any of my own windows, and as the copy of the book I had was a
beautifully illustrated hard-bound edition such a throw could have wrenched a shoulder
muscle my anger stilled and I read on.
Where Brom is not creating back story he has written and wonderfully illustrated a good
novel, with the notable exception of one character. The characters have a depth seldom
seen in fantasy novels and grow and change as individuals. The plot unfolds and moves in a
well structured manner too. The one character that was out of place was an elf noble named
Ulfgar (with a suspiciously Germanic name too). Ulfgar was straight from central casting
by way of "Caricatures R Us". Ulfgar was every readers worst
cliché moment personified.
In summary, if you enjoy having back stories to classic tales created for you and can
read past historical inaccuracies in fantasy novels with little difficulty then this is
the book for you. And did I mention the illustrations?. Me? On the evidence of this work I
would very much rather Brom stuck to artwork and illustrations to make his living, for at
those he really is very good, because The Child Thief disappointed
me so much.