The Thief of Always

ISBN: 1933239174
ISBN 13: 9781933239170
By: Clive Barker Alex Garner Gabriel Hernandez

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Adventure Childrens Clive Barker Fantasy Favorites Fiction Horror To Read Ya Young Adult

About this book

Master of horror Clive Barker's Thief of Always is a fable appealing to horror and fantasy fans young and old. Now IDW brings you its own lavishly illustrated adaptation of the thrilling tale. Mr. Hood's Holiday House has stood for a thousand years, welcoming countless children into its embrace. It is a place of miracles, a blissful round of treats and seasons, where every childhood whim may be satisfied... for a price.

Reader's Thoughts


I received this book in the mail in early March and began reading it the day I got it. After having read the first few chapters I put it down and did not pick it up again until today -- this was not for lack of enjoyment or want of reading it, life simply got into the way. The only other Clive Barker book I had read prior to this was Abarat which I thoroughly enjoyed; due to this fact I was expecting The Thief of Always to be akin to that -- it was not. I was pleasantly surprised.This book weaves a sad story that defies the traditional concept of Fantasy simply by inhabiting a far darker reality than is commonly expected of a children's book -- in fact, in lieu of that being it's demographic it was profoundly disturbing. The message of the book is not necessarily an incredibly positive one, but one that seemed realistic to me nonetheless. I'd like to read this book a few more times before forming a solid opinion of it, but for now I can say with some certainty that this is a book that will stick with me for many years, if not the rest of my life.

Elphaba J

Uma história recheada de inocência pueril com a capacidade de levar adultos a viajar na ambiguidade das mais doces recordações e pesadelos inimagináveis.Existem livros que são especiais, pela forma como narram a história ou pelas suas personagens, O Ladrão de Eternidade, sem dúvida, que conquistará muitos leitores pela sua narrativa que nos embala e enlaça num universo de sonhos e magia, mas que no entanto, desde a primeira página, nos dá a certeza que nos encontramos perante a ilusão de felicidade.Esta foi a minha primeira leitura de Clive Barker não sendo, no entanto, a primeira vez que ouvi falar deste autor, mestre na arte de narrar as fantasias mais sombrias levando-vos, neste seu livro, a percorrer os caminhos mais perversos devidos aos desejos mais ingénuos.Opinião completa:

Geert Daelemans

A touching fable for the young at heartThe Great Grey Beast of February has imprisoned Harvey Swick and the young boy is bored to death. How will he ever survive that dreadfully dull period between New Year and Easter? Contemplating his misery, Harvey discovers that he is not alone in his room. Indeed a somewhat strange and scrawny figure is standing in the corner. The man makes himself known as Mr. Rictus and invites Harvey to the Holiday House. And true, Harvey does not believe his eyes: the house is filled with all the pleasures a boy can want. Delicious food, many friends, tons of toys, every day Christmas. What more do you need? Of course there is a price to be paid, but young Harvey Swick, bored with his life and beguiled by the wonders of the Holiday House, does not stop to consider the consequences. Only when he discovers that he is no longer a guest, but a prisoner does Harvey start to react. But maybe it is already too late.Clive Barker's first attempt at writing a book for a younger audience does not go by unnoticed. As Clive is known for his very dark and fantastic tales, he indeed uses these talents to draw a magnificent place where many children surely would love to hide. But with the same zeal he deconstructs the dream and craftily let the evil seep into the story. Of course the villains are not as dark and disturbed as in his adult novels, but still he manages to portrait a series of characters that would enjoy taking permanent residence in the dreams of the younger ones.One critique that might pop up is that the setting of the story is so rich that it begs for more than one episode. After reading the story, so many things are left untold that it leaves you wanting for more. Even the narrative itself is extremely concise with its twenty-six chapters counting on average not more than six pages each. It would probably not have hurt if more details were introduced in order to make the environment even more exciting and colorful. Nevertheless the story is exciting enough to get the stamp of a must-read. And please, do not worry if you think you are too old to read this book. You never are!

Raquel Leite

Em O ladrão da eternidade é contada a história do pequeno Harvey Swick que tem o desejo que algo aconteça na “grandiosa e parda fera que Fevereiro era”.E assim é visitado por Rictus, uma pessoa estranha que o visita e lhe faz uma proposta em que ele, indo com Rictus, fosse para a casa de Férias, onde teria diversão nunca acaba, mesmo nos dias cinzentos e tristes. Estando ele completamente aborrecido com os dias, decide aceitar o convite, descobrindo assim uma casa onde tudo era possível, e onde os seus desejos se tornam realidade. E onde por incrível que pareça é Primavera, onde o sol queima.E assim Harvey conhece o mundo onde tudo é possível e tudo lhe agrada, com excepção de um lago que nada tem a ver com o resto da casa, é preto e tem peixes gigantes e com ares horríveis.No entanto é neste local que vai descobrir do que tudo é realmente feito e de como se constroem as coisas, enfrentando a ilusão do que é a felicidade.Este livro é como se se tratasse de uma fábula, que se deveria ler as crianças, e aos adultos também, ensinando que quem tudo quer, tudo perde. E é realmente fantástico que assim o seja. Um livro que devemos mesmo perde umas horinhas com ele.

Lazy Seagull

Alright, well, here I go!So, I was going along my merry way reading this book, and I found myself being drawn almost completely in. A seemingly childish story, The Thief of Always managed to be both chilling and unbearably cute. Now people were asking me when they saw me with the book in hand: "Do you like it? Why?"The characters were well fleshed out and well-thought out. I loved Harvey. Wendell could be irritating, but, hey, that was him.I loved the House. Hood House. That motherfucking monster of a vacation resort. I just wanted to see and learn...more, I suppose.More about Lulu's enigmatic past. More about Mr. Hood's past. What about Rictus, Jive and the rest of the leetle beasties?That's pretty much why The Thief of Always earned a solid four stars.Recommended to all for a quick, light, and totally-worth-it read.


I loved everything about this book. From the first line; "The great grey beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive" to the crazy/creepy illustrations (which were also done by Clive Barker).Just scary enough for most 10 and older readers but with a story that anyone can enjoy. If you already love Clive Barker keep in mind that this not one of his gory stories. It is an adventure/mystery/fantasy and is perfect for a rainy afternoon with or without the kids.


This is a quick read, even though it's 225 pages. The last time I read it, about 10 years ago, I read it in about a day, and I'm not a fast reader. It's just really hard to put down, and clips right along.This one is all about the story, and there's almost no extra fluff if I recall. It's odd that I would give such an animal five stars since I'm all about great prose, even if it adds a couple of hundred pages to a book, but there it is.Since I don't feel like typing out bits of the story, and the book summary attached to this does it just fine anyway, I'll leave you with a recommendation to check this out.

Scott Rhee

"The Thief of Always" was Clive Barker's only (as far as I know) foray into young adult fiction. It is disturbing, to say the least, and probably not suitable for most young children (especially those whose experience with supernatural oddities in fiction extends to the Harry Potter series) as it is pretty graphic and gory in parts, at least, from what I recall. In truth, it may have not been that graphic at all, but Barker's gift is triggering the reader's imagination to go places that the reader neither expects (or sometimes even wants) to go. In truth, Barker's gift is simply showing us a hand holding a knife, a throat, and letting our imaginations go from there, which is probably scarier than actually showing us what happens. Fans of dark fantasy, especially those in the YA set, should check this out...

Emeraldia Ayakashi

I was surprised. It’s weird to call a Clive Barker book cute, right? But that’s what The Thief of Always is. Even with demons and soul-stealing and a cat falling into a pot of boiling water and dying, it’s a really cute and deep , like the " soul of Me " who recommmand me this book . The way that Clive Barkerweave a story that incorporates adventure and horror within a tale suitable for a child is amazing.This book while being fun and horrific also has a great meaning behind it, one that every child (and adult if we’re being completely honest here) needs to find. It's a delightful fairy taleDon’t waste the time you have been given, it can be gone in an instant.


::: SPOILER ALERT :::"Time would be precious from now on. It would tick by, of course, as it always had, Harvey was determined he wouldn't waste it with sighs and complaints. He'd fill every moment with the seasons Jed found in his heart: hopes like birds on a spring branch; happiness like a warm summer sun; magic like the rising mists of autumn. And best of all, love; love enough for a thousand Christmases."Another reminder from my late son, Ryan, my firstborn. Gone nearly 2 1/2 years now. He wants to be certain I know to live each day in appreciation for the precious gift that it is. Time lost is never recovered, unless you find it in a book like this, that makes you keenly aware of the value of even one day!


I remember browsing through Booksale, sorting through a lot of books, then looking down at what I'm holding (which were books I was considering to buy), and wondering how on earth "The Thief of Always" got there. Seriously, I felt this book had magical powers or something, and I still suspect that, after almost 5 years. Funny how I only remembered this book just now, since I think it's one of the most amazingly written and illustrated books I've read (and that was just by chance).I'll have to ponder more on how to review this book, since it's the books I love that are really hard to review. For now, isn't it just enough to say that this book was lumpin bloobalooby?


I thoroughly enjoyed this fable from the great Clive Barker! If you've never read Barker, start here. While his earlier horror short stories (Books of Blood) and similar books can test just about any stomach and emotional tolerance level, this novel can be enjoyed by all ages from probably age 10 through adult. At some point in his career, Barker ventured into fantasy rather than straight horror, and it was a brilliant move. Barker's style of prose is still distinctive, and he still infuses horror."The Thief of Always" is about a boy who is bored, wishing days away, and gets a chance to fulfill that wish in a utopian, magical house where an entire day is spent celebrating all the holidays, complete with appropriate weather. But the boy soon finds a dark side to the house. After some horrifying ordeals, the boy discovers his wits and inner resolve, and learns how to defeat the evil.From the top-notch story to the characters, Barker's fluid prose and even the author's own great illustrations, this is a quick book to read that most of you will probably enjoy a great deal.


So, when I reviewed Coraline, I mentioned that, in terms of "Young-person-casts-off-illusions-and-outwits-a-vastly-more-powerful-otherworldly-entity-and-comes-to-appreciate-the-realities-of-life" stories, I thought this book was vastly superior. So I jumped onto Bookmooch to see if anyone had a copy. Lo and behold, a nice person in Israel was giving his copy away, so I snagged it. And I stand by my judgment.Plus, this book has one of the best opening lines I have ever read: "The great, gray beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive."Can't beat that.Harvey Swick is ten years old, and like so many ten year-old boys, he is bored with his life. The interminable grayness of February, the drudgery of life - going to school, coming home, going to school again - and believes that, if his life became the tiniest bit more boring, he would certainly perish.Then he met a strange, smiling man named Rictus, who told Harvey of a wonderful place where boredom could not enter, and there was nothing to be had but fun and adventure. There is no better place for children, Rictus said, than Mister Hood's Holiday House.Thinking about it, given that Harvey was willing to follow a strange man to a mysterious house without much consideration for his safety, suggests either that Harvey is not very bright, or Rictus is extremely persuasive. Given the rest of the book, I'd bet on the latter.The Holiday House is truly a place of miracles. The food is better than you've ever eaten and there are enough toys and games and costumes and masks to keep any child happy for the rest of their lives. And in every day there are four seasons - a perfect green spring in the morning, a blazing wonderful summer in the afternoon, an evening full of woodsmoke, pumpkins and fallen leaves, and every night is a white Christmas with a present for each boy and girl.It is the best place Harvey has ever been, and it takes him about a month to realize that something is not... quite right. Why would the mysterious Mister Hood do this for children? And what happened to the children who had come before? And what's the deal with that cold, deep pond full of big, creepy fish?It's a very quick read, but a very good book.


Edit 4: My love for this book knows no bounds because I managed to get this hard copy of the graphic novel. Signed and hand-numbered (there were only 500 of these going out).Edit 3: Did I just buy the ebook of this? Yes I did. Gotta be safe in case I lose the paperback copy. <3333“The great gray beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive.”The most fabulous opening line I’ve ever read. In all seriousness. It shows that there will be beautiful writing in future pages. It is inevitable.I’ve praised this book for such a long time. Long enough that I forgot huge chunks of it. They started to jump at me and wonder why the hell I haven’t reread them. It made me think "Why DID I love this book?" when I was 12, in 6th grade, and hated hated hated reading? Maybe my subconscious was telling me something the day I finished The Thief of Always nine years ago. Sixth grade was a magical year. My reading teacher deserves just as much praise for introducing me to this book.I’ll say it again: Originality wins me over no matter what. Originality and I are two peas in a pod. Can’t have my love without having originality. It’s completely cool if you were to make an homage or even say that a particular character or event was influenced by something else, but if the overall idea is doing a great job at being original, high five to you. I was more than happy to see that my lil’ 6th grade self didn’t try to shadow this story to be any less than it was. My little self knew what it was talking about for once.This story is about a ten year-old boy by the name of Harvey Swick. Harvey is bored out of his mind at home in Millsap, and wants to do something fun that’ll hopefully kill the rest of the days in February. Then along comes Rictus, a yellow-skinned sir with an obnoxious grin and an urge to take Harvey away to a fun place called Mr. Hood’s Holiday House. Harvey says, “Sure why the fuck not?” and joins Rictus through a wall of mist that leads him to said wonderland. Harvey spends a great first day, but then things start going downhill, and Harvey says, “Looks like it’s up to ME!”Let’s break it all down now:There is greatness in this story through the writing alone. Clive Barker, known for Hellraiser and other such horror tales, knows how to use his words. And use them to throw me the craziest defined image of the Holiday House I’ve ever witnessed in my brain. When I was 12, I didn’t care for this stuff, I was more along the lines of, “This place is cool can I have more please?”THANKFULLY, having an urge to pursue the need to publish a series as a sort of American Dream, rereading this with the knowledge I now have just makes this story that much more impressive. Never was I so blown away with writing. Like other authors I’ve mentioned, Barker’s got a knack for pacing and how to make someone grimace by description alone. He is also a fabulous wielder of context clues, because I found words in this reread that got me going, “WHAT DOES IT MEEEEAN?” And there he was, telling me with his writing. I thank ye, Barker.I think this short book took me so long because of the fact that I reread passages over and over again. I loved the sound of them, the images I received, and the way the plot was driven through the characters.Another thing I want to mention before I move onto the characters is Clive Barker’s multiple talents. Barker can surely write, and he can most certainly illustrate. That’s right, he did his own illustrations. If the illustration of the wall of masks (where there is one of Hellraiser’s Pinhead) wasn’t enough to tell, I’m sure it’s written in somewhere that he did them. The illustrations drawn do a wonderful job of showing a chapter’s motives, but not enough to tell you how or why something’s happening. My all-time favorite illustration was Harvey as Barker’s version of a vampire (probably one of my favorite scenes, too):This is just beautiful. I mean, the composition, the stance, the great contrast of the shadows, that SMIRK UNF (oh god what’s wrong with me).Also I’m burning this particular image into YOUR SOUL. Damn it’s amazing.All the pictures have meaning in this fable. They are beautiful, horrifying, and almost tense you up for particular scenes. Perfect example of that was the illustration of Carna, before you’re even introduced to it. The description comes and you see the picture again, and you say, “NO NO NO HARVEY RUN. GET OUTTA THERE!” It made me scared for Harvey’s life.I am heavily tempted to make my own illustrations for my series again. I had thought it once before, but I thought it’d be too much work. After Barker’s illustrations and seeing how much of a punch they made, I want to make my own.Needless to say, I would like to point out that the pictures do not make this story. They are a nice accent, but even without them, this story would still thrive.Let’s meet some characters. Our story goes through a single month and a few days through the life of 10 year-old Harvey Swick. It’s because of this TEN YEAR-OLD BADASS that I refuse to glance at some YA heroines that have puked their way to the spotlight. Did I mention that he’s fucking ten? Okay. Just making sure.Harvey is a normal kid. He likes to run, likes the summertime, hates being bored, and is always up for an adventure. O ho ho good thing Rictus found ‘im! Harvey grows significantly throughout the tale of the Thief. At first, he loves being away from home, but it’s like someone always said, ‘Once you notice one bad thing, you start seeing them all.” And that’s exactly what happened. Things started getting iffy, and Harvey started sniffin’ around, like ANY MAIN CHARACTER WITH A BRAIN SHOULD.Then he started to judge. He knew he had to get out. SO ALONG COMES WENDELL.Wendell. Little brat Wendell. He was Harvey’s first friend and not the best at that. I didn’t mind him though, because he actually helped Harvey take initiative and become stronger, and I am a-okay with that! Wendell was a lil’ chubster, he’d sell out Harvey in a second, but when times became more terrifying, he stayed loyal to Harvey (view spoiler)[that is, until the Holiday House used its magic on him. CURSE YOU, HOOD. (hide spoiler)].Lulu was a good example of a insta-characterized character. A few sentences from her and I immediately knew the way she was. She was simple-minded and precious, helpful and isolated. Harvey and she knew each other fast enough for Harvey to develop feelings for her. I thought this was fantastic! Lulu has an interesting arc in this book, one that I can’t elaborate on or I’ll spoil horribly and I don’t want to do that. But I grew to like her a lot, and she was the character I remembered all these years (besides Harvey).Mrs. Griffin was nothing short of a sweetheart. She, like the other children, was a prisoner in the House of Hood. Her backstory was fabulous, short, and sweet. She was a precious woman who couldn’t cry and I never wanted anything more than to be friends with her. Harvey was so good to her, my heart melted every time they spoke to one another.Mr. Hood was a good example of an antagonist working behind the scenes. With his lackeys in the Quartet of Horrible-Looking People (I named them myself HAW), Mr. Hood could continue to flood his magic into everything from the grass to the seasons to the food in the kitchen. He was hungry for children’s souls, and I loved the take on the vampiric ways of said hunger. Barker gave him the Vampire King title, and I just thought, “Ohhhhh that makes some sense!”Rictus was also a good antagonist. He was the little bastard who brought Harvey to Mr. Hood in the first place. The dude could fly, but when things got more rough, he constantly tempted Harvey with sweets and gifts and enlightenment. (view spoiler)[He turned on Mr. Hood of course when the House came tumbling down. Serves him right to get his head SNAPPED OFF HIS SHOULDERS HOLY SHIT. (hide spoiler)]The plot behind this story was very simple. Child goes to wonderland, wonderland is a haunted wasteland, child runs away, finds strength, comes back, and FIRES ZEE MISSILES. I’m only summarizing the basic skeleton of course. But because it was simple, Barker said, “I’m just gonna have a field day with this. Pardon me,” and proceeded to make this story excellent and original in his own way.I would also like to point out that plot structure is almost visible in this novel. No seriously. Each climax is basically cut PERFECTLY. You see the start of Harvey’s suspicion, you see his conflict of having to go back to the Holiday House, and you see him be the badass that he is. You get different emotions at different points of the novel and it’s just brilliant! Barker planned this bad boy so well. It makes me giddy to be able to see it as I read it. I missed that feeling. Good books are important to have after a while of snarking.The use of time is used wonderfully here and works as a nice motif. Time is always mentioned and it turns out to be the moral of the story. Time is something to be treasured. You can’t mope around and waste it all the live long day. You have to use it to your benefit. It's a great message to us, old people.Overall, this book was a getaway from reality, but at the same time, Barker gave us the realism of the Holiday House’s nightmares. We are with Harvey all through his adventures. We care about him.There is a very good reason for me to say that this is my ultimate favorite novel in the history of the world. It has all the elements I could ever want: beautiful writing, interesting and accented illustrations, wonderful characters, excellent plot, great antagonists, a not boring as fuck romance, and no need to milk out a sequel.I think this was the first book I ever really sat down with and said, “Whoa. What a story.” This book is my kind of perfection. It may not be yours, but it is most certainly mine, and I beg you all to at least give it a shot.I don’t care if you end up loathing it in the end; as long as you tried, I’m gonna be so happy. I will close this novel of a review with another fabulous quote. I plan to add it to the list of quotes for this book once I figure out how to do it."We're both thieves, Harvey Swick. I take time. You take lives. But in the end we're the same: both Thieves of Always."Edit:WHY IN GOD'S NAME DID THIS LOVELY STORY FAIL TO HIT PRE-PRODUCTION TWICE UNDER THE FILM GODS? That's so heart-wrenching! This story is BRILLIANT and would be such a beautiful film! Oh I'm crying inside.CLIVE BARKER, you're a director!Make. This. Happen.Edit the Second:You know what?I'm a year and a half away from flying to L.A. and begging for animation jobs. I will make it my duty to pitch this will all my heart to Dreamworks/Illumination Entertainment so it can finally be done.And it'll BLOW EVERYONE AWAY.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Robert Bickers

Read SynopsisWow! This is a book that stays with you, if you let it. Harvey Swick, as normal a kid as you'll find, is trapped in paradise. The holiday House is a place where dreams come true - so long as you're willing to play by it's rules. Try to break free, and swim with the fishes.Clive Barker's prose is brilliant; I can think of no other word that clearly conveys my thoughts on The Thief of Always. From the first line-one of the best ever written, rivaled only by the opening to Gibson's Neuromancer-to the final word there is nothing that can be added or removed. The ideas flow in a manner other writers should envy, especially many of today's YA authors.This is a book that refuses to treat it's audience as dull or stupid. Barker wrote for the masses, but not to the masses. To his credit, he lifts the reader rather than lower his prose.This is the only book I can say I've read, willingly, more than once. Caveat: Much of Barker's work is not at all suitable for younger readers.

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