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The Good Times Are Killing Me

I'm a nerdy girl with too much time on her hands, and too many books on her to-read pile.

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Household Stories by the Brothers Grimm
Wilhelm Grimm, Jacob Grimm, Lucy Crane, Walter Crane
Natasha Wimmer, Roberto Bolaño

The Child Thief: A Novel

The Child Thief - Brom Peter Pan was never a favorite character of mine growing up. Maybe it was because I never watched the movie, or because wars and battles weren’t subjects that I found appealing in a fairy tale. As a child, I was enchanted by Snow White, and the Brother Grimm’s tales of unfortunate kids and terrible witches. There weren’t witches in Peter Pan! Or hungry wolves! All I ever knew about it was that it talked about a crazy kid that could fly, a bunch of orphaned children, and a crazy (and a bit stupid) captain with a hook for a hand. Oh! and a crocodile.So, people might ask, what am I doing reading a retelling of a story I never cared for? I…. I don’t know. All I can say in my favor is this: I don’t regret it. Not one bit. This is one of those books that has you on the edge of your seat the entire time, and stays with you long after the last line is finished. Brom presents a story that really analyses the implications of the seemingly cute and candid happenings of “Peter Pan”: The kidnapping of gullible children, the war between them and grownups with swords and guns, the fact that they can never grow, and the untold consequences for those who do, are all of them explored in “The Child Thief” and given new and incredible dimensions. Without a doubt, the most intriguing character of all is Peter. He’s the hero we’re used to root for: the symbol of our wild and untamed side, the representation of everything that’s good and playful. That is, of course, until we are faced with his dark side: the one that is so invested on his mission, so stuck in his ways and prejudices, that becomes blind to death and to the sacrifices others make for him. Who knew that an eternal boy could be so interesting? And speaking of interesting characters, the Captain blew my mind, but I can’t say anymore without marking this review with a big SPOILER tape on top of it. So let’s speak about my other all-time favorite character: Nick. When we first meet him, he’s running away from home with a bag full of provision and methamphetamines. The tenants of his house are drug dealers and Nick, blaming his mother for the abuse these people put him through, decides to go and make a life with the money he hopes to get in exchange for the stolen drugs. Unfortunately things don’t go as planned, and he’s in the process of getting his ass kicked when Peter makes an appearance and saves the day. Nick is a fantastic character. We see him grow and confront his own demons while being the only “devil” that can see through Peter and his schemes. He doesn’t always do the right thing, but who does? Being thrown into a world you know nothing about, with dangers that surpass your wildest expectations, and surrounded by a little kingdom that stands on the cult of a kid that, at the best of times, has little idea of what to do with himself, is no piece of cake. But Nick pulls it off and deals with trouble in a realistic way, showing the author’s mastery with words and a great ability in terms of character developing. Avalon and its mythology are also a strong point. The island is all that remains of a once world full with magic, and is now seriously threatened by “flesh eaters”, or men that are determined to extinguish it by destroying its leader, the Lady. Peter wants them dead at all costs, using as his main weapon the disposition of the children he manages to transport to Avalon and turn into little killing machines, or “devils”. The climax of this war, and the end of the book, was the only part of the book that left me wanting more (and heartbroken, but I can’t tell you why), and the reason I almost took a star out of the book. It felt like a rushed way to end it all: You build up the tension to eleven, set the stage for a battle of epic proportions, and deliver something good, but not incredible. (You also kill everyone I cared about, so by the end I couldn’t care less about Peter and his epiphany) However, this does not mean that the book is in any way, shape or form bad or not worthy of any fantasy fan’s time and energy. (I’m giving it 5 stars!!) As you can probably tell I’m no expert when it comes to retellings of classic children’s tales, but it seems to me that there aren’t a lot of ways anyone could actualize Peter Pan better than Brom. It was a magical experience that will stay with me for a long time.