Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Child Thief - Brom



The cover of this book is arresting enough, never mind the premise ... a side of Peter Pan that exposes a much darker character than H.M Barrie ever dared put to paper. Here is a Peter Pan tale that brings a more sinister and dangerous intent to his spiriting away of children to Neverland. And Neverland is not what we remember either! Yes, there is a pirate-like figure a la Captain Hook, fairy sprites that are full of mischief, dangerous beasts with fangs and slimy skins, but their danger and intent are magnified a hundred-fold. Gone are the strictly good and strictly evil characters of Barrie's story; they are replaced with like characters that are ... complicated, complex, more balanced with light and dark.






This book is a much more mature version of the Peter Pan legend created by Barrie. Brom (Gerald Brom), known originally for his gothic illustrations and work in the field of role-playing games and video game graphic design has branched out to re-visit this classic 'boy tale'. In the process, he has stayed very close to the original plot line, but has morphed and expanded the Neverland war between Peter Pan and his Lost Boys and the pirates lead by Captain Hook to a level that is almost apocolyptic. Neverland, that shining paradise past the stars and moon has become a dark and dangerous land reached by traveling through a death-drenched and eerie Mist between the world of man and the world of fairies. Peter doesn't rescue babies that are misplaced by their nannies or that have become lost in Kensington Park. He haunts the shadows and side streets of New York City looking for runaways or children and teens who have been abused, molested, pushed off from dysfunctional families. Luring them with a winning smile, promises of safety and adventure, and oft-times rescuing them from further abuse or violence, he leads them to the edges of The Mist and then extracts a confession that they enter of their own free will and then ...




The book begins with an incestuous rape and a murderous rescue, moves to a young boy named Nick whose life has been taken ransom by a gang of drug dealers and whose valiant rebellion against them has landed him in deep trouble along the paths of Brooklyn's Prospect Park. Peter sits on the branch of one of the park's massive trees watching Nick get beaten, 'pants-ed', and humiliated. When it becomes apparent that he might well be killed by these thugs from the drug ring, Peter hops to the rescue. Nick, while suspicious of Peter, follows him on a short, vandalous romp through Brooklyn, ending in the approach to the edges of The Mist. It is then that Nick must decide to follow Peter or take his chances against the drug ring ... what has he got to lose ? He's about to learn that there is always more one can lose.




No spoilers here ... this is a fantastic spin on the Peter Pan fairy tale. It is, however, not for young readers or the squeamish. There is violence - real violence, rough language, and a dark take on what we all remember as a fun and merry romp. Where Barrie's tale hinted at murder and mayhem, Brom steps right in and gives it full measure. It has incredibly detailed and gorgeous illustrations that complement the tale, short, bulleted passages that move the plot along and transition between the world of New York City, the in-between of The Mist, and the world of  'Neverland' and the Devils. It is fantasy and fairy tale for adults ... perfect for a stormy weekend spent curled up with a glass of wine, a blanket, and a fully-fired imagination.




While this book was NOT one of the few that I had originally chosen to read for Carl's annual 'Once Upon a Time' book share, I could not pass it up. It has, no doubt, been reviewed and discussed, so my reaction post may well be redundant, but it is such a good find that I decided to include it ... just in case there are readers that might happen on this post and not know of it. It's not too late to join  the journey ...





6 comments:

  1. I have this book and read it some time ago. I don't generally like "retold" fairy tales even if they are "changed" but I was most fascinated that Brom did so many drawings inside the book! His art work is outstanding and he sure seems to be doing ok with writing too! I also have a book by him called Plucker which I liked too. I have to admit though I can only take a certain amount of the very "darkness" that he writes about

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    1. What I have found utterly fascinating is how he wove the traditional characters in the 'new take' plus played on the different northern European folkloric creatures ... trolls, faeries, bog creatures, etc ... and the whole Avalon thing with Arthurian legend getsplay too ... and it's pretty seamless.

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  2. I have two minds about this. Your critique is brilliantly written and piques my interest, but J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan is one of my iconic reads. It dwells in that part of my brain which is sacrosanct to the purity of the ideal.

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    1. -And therein lies the challenge that Brom throws the reader. Throw off the ideal and see things for what they most likely were ... it is dark and violent, but so were the intimations within Barrie's tale. Like all true fairy tales there was real violence; it were homogenized and sanitized by Whitman Publishing, Disney Productions, and Hollywood through our growing up years, but the tale was waiting for a guy like Brom to open the old envelope and push it into our 21st century faces.

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    2. I'm with Nana Jo on this! I don't think I could handle a horror version of Peter Pan. Yes, I can see what Brom is drawing from in the original, and I am intrigued by the idea of Peter carrying off children who are victims of abuse...but I just love the charm of Barrie's Neverland too much to visit a twisted version of it!

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  3. smiles...now this is a find..i am adding it to my list right now...i rather like to trip the dark pathes at times and to take a story like that i am familiar with would be quite a treat....really nice review..

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