In 1992, Clive Barker put out a little story called “The Thief of Always.”
Harvey Swick is bored. He’s tired of February. He’s tired of school. He’s tired of his mother giving him chores.
Suddenly, Harvey’s boredom is broken when a scrawny stranger in a fancy suit appears in his bedroom.
Harvey is startled by the appearance of this odd-looking creature named Rictus. But Rictus chats casually, telling Harvey that he came because he knew the boy needed a vacation.
Lured by the promise of adventure, Harvey follows Rictus through a wall of mist, where he finds the mysterious Holiday House. Inside the house is all that Harvey could ever want. Sweets and goodies all the time, all four seasons in a day, Christmas night every night with gifts of whatever he can dream.
Harvey isn’t the only child in the Holiday House and he soon becomes friends with two others. Those children seem to have been there longer than Harvey, and he becomes concerned that not everything is as it seems, which of course it is not.
“The Thief of Always” is a wonderful story. I found myself wondering if Neil Gaiman, author of “Coraline,” gained inspiration from Barker. “The Thief of Always” is older than Gaiman’s more well-known, recent stories, but they all could sit on the same shelf. “Coraline” the movie is coming out soon. Gaiman’s award-winning “The Graveyard Book” probably also will be made into a movie. I can only hope that “The Thief of Always” will be made into a movie, too. I’ve read that there will be a film version, possibly coming out in 2010.
Movie or not, “The Thief of Always” is a great book for fantasy lovers to pick up. There’s also a graphic novel version, as there is for “Coraline.”
Clive Barker most often is associated with the “Hellraiser” trilogy or “Candyman.” But Barker can write a pretty good children’s story as well, and illustrate it to boot. And I don’t suppose it matters if he sneaks a picture of Pinhead into the pages.