So The Child Thief is a retelling of Peter Pan from a dark and gritty, more real, and more magical perspective.
“Peter is quick, daring, and full of mischief—and like all boys, he loves to play, though his games often end in blood. His eyes are sparkling gold, and when he graces you with his smile you are his friend for life, but his promised land is not Neverland.”
So here we have a changeling Peter, a faerie boy traded for a stolen human boy. He is not even days old when his family cast a too evolved Peter into the woods because clearly, he’s magical. And magical is the devil.
We spend some time with Peter in his early days, how he was truly the original lost boy, how he lost everything and became the boy in search of a mother we all know.
The most brilliant thing for me was the introduction of the fairy world, and the borderline pagan or wiccan interpretation of what is probably the Seelie and Unseelie courts.
Without getting into too much spoilery detail, Peter finds his mother in the Seelie Queen and becomes a warrior for the unseelie court and well eventually, as is Peter’s life, he gets driven away to start the band of Lost Boys.
I cannot stress enough how real the magic felt. I know they were parading around, starting wars, with the Horned One, and being clearly fairies. But from what I know about world religions, it seemed to me that it was based in Wicca. The Mother Goddess and the Horned one, and the magic of the earth, made me feel like this was a real magic.
What’s more, to further back myself up in the realness claim, Peter recruits Lost Boys solely to defeat the Flesheaters. When we meet the flesheaters, they are depicted as the most frightening sort of monster. And when it comes down to it *spoiler alert* They’re men. Just men. Puritan settlers, most likely. We meet a favorite, Captain Hook. But much like Umbridge is the most frightening evil in Harry Potter, our Hook’s evil is amplified in his gritty, human, common mindset. The flesheaters burn the forest and take the magic from neverland. They kill and destroy… Please tell me you can see the beginnings of Brom’s well crafted commentary on colonialism!
Then there are the Lost Boys themselves, of the Devils. They are taken by Peter, saved from usually tortuous urban lives. We can see our favorites if we look. Tiger Lily is up in the forefront, a leader, the best of the Devils. There’s Redbone, a crazy and poor abused boy, saved by Peter. He’s probably Nibs or Slightly.
Then there’s Nick, who mostly serves to seem like a main character we won’t care about because, Peter, but really navigates us through the story and learns as we do, how to become a Devil.
To Recap: You need to read this book because it uses true theological ideals, both Christian, and non, to illustrate the evils of colonialism, all while retelling the story of Peter Pan, in a way which makes us realize the true horrors keeping Peter from wanting to grow up.
Also, the illustrations are phenomenal.