Wednesday, March 31, 2010

CBII Book 15: The Child Thief - Brom

Gerald Brom or "Brom" if you will, has taken a charming children's tale and turned it into a nightmare. We've all seen Disney's tale of a puckish Pan, and some of us have even read James Barrie's version, but "Brom" has managed to destroy my childhood memories so completely that I'll never look at Wendy the same way again.

A young boy with preturnatural abilities is...well...not "kidnapping" but, "enticing" children to come to his island. Perhaps he's a childish trickster, or maybe he's a masochist with a fetish for the young ones, but all he REALLY wants is for the run-aways to find a home.If they can help him defeat the adults and save the world, well, then so much the better.

This is not a tale for your children. Nor is it a tale for those of a gentle constitution. Brom's story begins with the recounting of a sexual assult and while it is, and is not graphic, it's meant to set the tone to the novel. Those of us who are familiar with the Disney version of Peter Pan will probably be apalled, but I'm not sure that those who are looking for "The Twist" will be satisfied  either.  Brom could have taken his work to a truly disturbing extent but he went for the PG rating instead. I can't help but think that if it was R-rated it would have made for a much better mind-fuck.  Which is what he was obviously going for.

The Child Thief is a good book in that it wields a classic story in such a way as to make one question whether the tale was really so innocent to begin with. It also provides a decent metaphore for the struggles that many children face in the world today. However it also falls into a lot of the "I saw Bobby smoking pot" cliches we're all used to0 and wish we could get awat from. If you're looking for a good retelling of an old and maybe sinister story; The Child Thief definitelty fills the bill.

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