The Thief of Always by Clive Barker (Review of a Favorite Book)

The Thief of Always by Clive Barker Review

  • Title: The Thief of Always
  • Author: Clive Barker
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Release Date: November 1, 1992
  • Rating: 5 Stars

The Thief of Always has one of my absolute favorite opening lines: “The great gray beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive.” From there, readers are transported into a magical tale that’s equal parts horror, fairy tale, and fantasy.

The Thief of Always by Clive Barker Book Review

I’ve been reading and re-reading the same paperback copy of this book since 1993. As with most Middle Grade tales, we see the story from the point of view of a young boy (Harvey). But don’t let that deter you, adult readers. There’s something so charming, devastating, and heartening about The Thief of Always that readers of all ages really need to experience it for themselves.

Harvey suffers from the same issues that can plague any of us: dissatisfaction and boredom. This allows him to be tricked into becoming a willing visitor to Mr. Hood’s Holiday House, a seemingly magical land where bored children can take a break from their normal lives. But, as is always the way with these things, nothing is as it seems. Can Harvey figure out the truth, find a way out, and save his friends? If you’ve never read The Thief of Always before, then you’ll need to grab a copy to find out!

The Thief of Always by Clive Barker Book Review

Between Clive Barker’s brilliant voice, stunningly odd illustrations, and occasional bouts of laugh out loud humor, it’s hard not to get sucked back into the world he created again and again. No matter how many times I read it, there are a few sections that can also still cause me to ugly cry. That takes a remarkable amount of skill, which Barker has always showcased throughout his career. Here, though, he uses an approach that’s unlike any of his other works (even his other Middle Grade fiction), and the result is breathtaking.

As much as the horror fiction world would have been deprived by the loss of his adult books, I’ve often thought that a bookcase filled with Middle Grade Barker novels would have been a glorious thing indeed. And, failing that, it sure would be nice if the oft-planned film adaptation of The Thief of Always would finally come to fruition.

If you’ve never visited the Holiday House and you enjoy Middle Grade horror, then you owe it to yourself to make the journey. And if you’ve been there before, why not visit again soon? Mr. Hood is waiting for you.

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