Peter Pan is a classic read for children, the Disney version is probably the most known; Brom retold this story and created a dark novel, very different from the joyful image we have of the original story.
The author took inspiration from some quotes in the original text by Barrie to create his own Peter: if closely read they paint a unsetteling vision of the Island.
The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out; but at this time there were six of them, counting the twins as two.
This way “The child thief” was created, an original and maybe more believable version of the well-known story where Peter cruelty and self interest are clearly pointed out.
The child thief by Brom
Nick, after his father death moved with his mother to Brooklyn; after this his life changed: due to economic issues his mother was forced to locate some rooms in the house where they lived to some guys, unfortunately they were violent drug dealers. One night Nick is escaping them until he meets a strange boy with pointy ears who helps him in getting revenge to some of his chasers and who convinces Nick to go to a place where he will not have any more these kind of problems.
This way begins Nick’s travel to a magic island where his life will be in danger and where he meets the Devils, boys and girls kidnapped by Peter who share memories of violence and abuses. The Devils are an army willing to fight the flesh-eaters, the creatures that are destroying the magic on the island.
The chapter alternates Nick’s story and the story of Peter and his meeting with Lady Modron, the lady of the waters who hid the islands with mist to avoid human contamination, and with other magical beings from the Welsh myths.
Coming the time of the final fight Peter has to face how much he is willing to lose to save Lady Modron and Avalon.
The novel takes inspiration from the story of Peter Pan but it changes some elements, first of all there are various mythical elements that improve the story and helps in motivating various character’s choices and the reason of Peter kidnapping children.
The children escape from the real world has a double face: the title itself shows the reader the true face of Peter, a kidnapper who choses children with a past of violence being them the most happy to escape their life; Peter offers them a new life and a new family, but it’s not for free.
The characters are a strong point of the novel, starting from Peter himself, who shares with the Devils a difficult past, being him refused both by human and magical beings, but he is driven by self-interest and he is wiling to give away the children’s life for his needs.
Nick is a different point of view and his opinions are also different from the guys belonging to the Devils since he sometimes misses his past; it’s by Nick that the reader can grasp the violence and the strangeness of the island as they are and not as good..
The analogue to the pirates offer a less nice vision of grown-ups who have as main features fanaticism and cruelty.
The novel tells a different version of a known story, but it deals also various themes like the violence to children, the destruction of nature by human beings and the issues in communication between different groups of people.
I liked the novel finding it engaging and interesting; it’s more violent than any other version but it seems also more believable; the ending, rich and unexpected, it the conclusion of a very good read.
* The child thief by Brom ★★★★☆½
*I read this book in English