Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

I've been meaning to read Barker for a long time now, but have never gotten around to it.  On my last trip to B&N, as I walked around debating which books I was going to choose or rather what books would choose me, I had 4 books in my arm and trying to whittle it down to 2-3 (was trying to be good) while I was wandering and thinking which books to take home, I happened down the B aisle and right in front of Barker.  Well damn there goes me being good.  I have Imajica pt.1 & 2 but the lure of a new book...  I saw The Thief of Always and picked it up and it just felt right, like it was meant to be in my hand.  Who am I to fight fate?  So I decided on this and 2 other books and went home extremely happy.  My happiness would only increase when I decide to read this a few days later.
The books synopsis: "Mr. Hood's Holiday House has stood for a thousand years, welcoming countless children into its embrace.  It is a place of miracles 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.  But the house and its mysterious architect are not about to to release their captive without a battle.  Mr. Hood has ambitions for his new guest, for Harvey's soul burns brighter than any he has encountered in ten centuries..."
"Menacing demons, wondrous miracles, sinister magic and vivid characters... A compulsive, lightning paced tale that slmost begs to be read aloud." ~The Miami Herald~
My synopsis: Frickin awesome!  "Frickin awesome!" ~JaSexxy~ :) 
I will fully admit I am not fast reader, my mind tends to wander (within the context of the book, not randomly lol) and I stop to write quotes I like plus I am usually reading 2-3 books at once, so rarely do I get through a book in 1 day.  I started Thief Wednesday morning and finished it that night.  Yeah it was that good.  Harvey Swick, 10yr old boy, bored and annoyed on a dreary and grey rainy February day is playing make believe in his room.  As he was getting bored with his make believe his mother walks in and forces him to clean his room, much to his despair.  He is utterly unhappy at this turn of unfair events.  He says aloud, "I am ten.  I don't have to tidy up just because she says so.  It's boring.  I want to... I want to..."  He walks over to his mirror and ask it. "What do I want?  I don't know what I want.  I just know I'll die if I don't have some fun.  I will! I'll die!"  And with that the rain picked up and his window blows open.  He finds this weird as he was positive he latched his window.  He goes to close the window and "Cold rain spattered his face.  Half-closing his eyes, he crossed to the window and fumbled to slam it, making sure that the latch was in place this time.  The wind had started his lamp moving, and when he turned back the whole room seemed to be swinging around.  One moment the light was blazing in his eyes, the next it was flooding the opposite wall.  But in between the blaze and the flood it lit the middle of his room, and standing there-shaking the rain off his hat-was a stranger.  He looked harmless enough.  He was no more than six inches taller than Harvey, his frame scrawny, his skin distincly yellowish i color.  He was wearing a fancy suit, a pair of spectacles and a lavish smile."
We learn that this stranger's name is Rictus.  Rictus seems harmless but when you read further the description of this stranger you get the sense something evil and shark-like in his smile.  He 1st tells Harvey he can ask him any question he wants, but when Harvey starts asking questions that Rictus doesn't expect, he then changes his mind and tell hims no more questions!  He Tells him there is a magical place to go if he is truly bored and that there are no rules, no chores, nothing but fun.  Mr. Hood's Holiday House a place where a kid can live vicarious and free.  Well needless to say Harvey desires to go and so off they go the next day. 
They get to the house and have to cross some invisible barrier to get to the house.  The house itself is grand and beautiful and the climate within the barrier is warm and sunny with clear skies, which is complete contrast to the dreary weather outside the barrier.  This alone already makes Harvey happy.  Though one does get the ominous sense of dread despite the sunny happy facade.  Inside he meets 2 other children, Wendell and Lulu who are seemingly the same age as he and Mrs. Griffin an elderly lady that takes care of the children.  Lulu doesn't seem all that happy, but Wendell is as happy a kid in candy land.   The 2 boys have loads of fun, reading comics, playing in the tree house, eating whatever they want and as much as they want.  The seasons change throughout the day.  During the day it's summer, at dusk, fall and Halloween kicks in and at night winter & Christmas where the morning brings spring.  Christmas the kids can wish for whatever they want and they will get it.  They want a tiger, they get a tiger, they want a motorcycle, they get it.  Harvey wishes for a toy his father gave him when he was 6 but lost convinced the wish would not come true he noticed a present under the xmas tree.  Sure enough when he opened it, it was the the very toy down to the exact last detail.  Harvey when 1st reaching the house says that he only intends to stay for a short time, but ends up staying overnight.  At breakfast he tells Mrs. Griffin that he will stay a little longer but he should call his parents.  She doesn't scuff at this, but tells him to go right ahead.  Wendell tells Harvey that his parents already know he's here and that he doesn't need to bother calling.  Wendell says when he called his parents that already knew.  Harvey, doubtful, calls his parents and upon hearing their voice says "I just wanted call and say where I am and I'm all right."  To his surprise they tell him they already knew that and to stay as long as he desires and not to worry about school for he has earned a break from it.  He is surprised but never-the-less happy.  He interacts with Lulu occasionally but you can tell there is a budding romance.  But she reveals some things about the house and what is really happening that starts to make him suspicious of the seemingly innocuous house.  His suspicions fade and realization begins to form and he ends up in a battle for not just his life, but his very soul.  I could go on and I almost did, but to do so would give too much away.  And really it is a book all of you SHOULD read.
I never feel like my reviews do these great books any justice.  So I apologize for that.  But take my word for it this is a fantastic book, or rather don't take my word for it and read it!  It is extremely well written, characters are incredibly fleshed out and you feel their emotions.  There's several bitter-sweet moments with Harvey and Lulu that just melt the heart.  Even though it is written for YA there is plenty of fantastic creep factor and OMG moments.  I highly recommend it.  Give it my highest rating XXX.  And I will leave you with this parting quote:
"Time would be precious from now on.  It would tick by, of course, as it always had, but Harvey was determined he wouldn't waste it with sighs and complaints.  He'd fill every moment with the seasons he'd found in his heart: hopes like birds on a spring branch; happiness like a warm summer sun; magic like the rising mists of autumn.  And the best of all, love; love enough for a thousand Christmases."

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