Artist Brom takes a turn at fiction writing in his first novel, a modern take on Peter Pan. Peter is still the mischievous boy from J.M. Barrie’s book, but with a decidedly darker shadow. His clothes are more gothic punk than traditionally little boy or elfin. His motivation, rather than the desire to steal away innocents to take part in children’s games, is to rescue abused children and train them into a savage army to save the dying land of Avalon. Cruelty is real, as is disaffection, and death is the ultimate reality.
Peter’s reinterpreted origins are fascinating, as is the blend of religion and Celtic myth with Barrie’s original story, however, the scope of Brom’s vision for this book may have been overly ambitious. The plot sometimes meanders, the character development occasionally feeling choppy or oddly drawn out. In spite of these flaws, The Child Thief is an intricate combination of dark fantasy, fairy tale and high myth set in a strange and dangerous world. Pencil drawings are interspersed between chapters and a beautiful full-color collection of character paintings is included towards the middle of the book.