The Child Thief by Brom
Judging a book by its cover is one of my favorite ways to rebel.
This glorious hardcover ended up in my Amazon basket just because of that (and I needed X more dollars to get free shipping - a contradiction, I know.) I have quite a few impulse buys from the same affect. This one panned out.
This reinvention of Peter Pan is not for children and Brom makes that extremely apparent in the very first pages. You open onto a scene of incestual child rape. Bam, this is not a fairy tale. The filth is pretty thick initially, but once the stage is set for the "lost children" the spinning ninja kicks to your psyche tapper off.
I have to admit, I have not read the original Peter Pan - only watched the Disney movie and Hook. The similarities are there, but vague. Wendy isn't mentioned until half way through, and then only in a passing flashback.
This story has a life of its own, dark and deceptively hopeless. Many commentaries can be supposed that relate directly back to the original: the magic of childrens' wonderment and naivety - the horror of current lifestyles to conquer/defeat/kill all things unknown or unacceptable to their narrow minds - the plea to preserve the harmony and beauty of nature.
Flashbacks are used quite prolifically to tell the story of Peter's first journey into the mist. The method is sound, but I found myself confusing Peter and Nick (the newest initiate). Perhaps that is just tribute to the frailty of my mind, because I really enjoy this rediscovery of a story. Looking for any links to the sparkling fairy dust version of my childhood.
Nick's internal battle is a good foil for my struggle to transition from a child to an adult and not become dull, average, boring... not to loose the joy of living. Playing mental games so that work is a challenge and even bloody battles to the death are just an obstacle corse that must be completed to win the game.
The creatures created are so fascinating, I want to see MORE illustrations from Brom. A wordless, purely illustrated version of this story would be divine.
Sprites: Tiny dragonfly sized creatures of varying colors and extreme trouble makers. The children sleep in cages just to protect themselves from all the pranks!
Spiders: Large disgusting scary creatures living in the bottom of the outhouse and obviously hungry for anything.
Three girls: Appearing pure, sweet and innocent but children of the swamp goddess.
"Time to go see Auntie," said the first.
"I hope she has cake," put in the second.
"I hope she has bunnies," said the third. "I like bunnies."
"Bunnies, yum," said the first. "I'll have two."
The ending is very open and consistently dark. I especially enjoyed the interactions of fairy and NYC. (To say more would be to give it away.) Peter flirts with mental epiphany for his past actions but ultimately returning to the his devious ways.
After all is said and done, Brom gives a lovely explanation of his muse including the original Peter Pan and the myths behind it.
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.