Clive Barker, horror and fiction mastermind, tells a riveting journey that delves deep into the themes of utopia and mystery in the work of fiction “The Thief of Always”. Clive finds a unique balance between paradox and ordinary as 10 year old Harvey Swick lives out a wondrous life in his own utopia, called the Holiday House. However, sheer perfection has its low points, as for what Harvey will soon find out, utopia cannot truly exist, and behind all good, there is some bad. The Holiday House serves as a true test to Harvey’s wisdom and knowledge as he is subjected to the countless illusions that comprise this phenomenal tale.
The concept of the Holiday House seems very simple and direct: The house serves as a safe haven from all that isn’t what it shouldn’t be, offering homemade cookies made fresh from the oven, a couple nice children who serve as the ideal buddies, and endless activities and fun. The somewhat chilling effect that is given off by the story is the severity of the perfection occurring in this reality. For every day that passes by at the Holiday House, back in reality, an entire year passes. This goes hand in hand with the fact that for each day that passes at the house, all four seasons occur throughout each day. The Holiday House’s extremely deceiving facade is a perfect challenge for the mature and wise mind of Harvey Swick. The seemingly perfect environment, where every morning is Christmas, everything has purpose, and not a dull moment exists, was simply too perfect to trick Harvey. After consulting with a fellow resident around his age named Lulu, he realizes that she isn’t really happy, at all. He discovers that the owner of the house, Mr. Hood, is imprisoning the children with this false utopia. The fact that Harvey is so intelligent and can process such mature and adult-level thoughts makes the read very satisfying, as rarely do we see a ten year old doing the things Harvey did.
The recurring theme in this story is the comparison between what is real and what is illusion. These main topics incite deep thought and deeper meanings under the plot. The sense of otherworldliness within this seemingly ever so normal environment is a prime example of paradox and illusion. This characteristic of the book makes it only more alluring, as it becomes almost effortless to lose yourself in the realms and layers of the story. This strong trait that the book possesses makes it a fantastic read for the more mature audience. This asset brings along another powerful comparison to the novel, which is the comparison of audiences. The book remains simple enough for rather young individuals to thoroughly enjoy the plot, while the deeper meanings will satisfy the needs of the more mature, deep thinking reader.
Low points in this story are scarce. The only ones realistically fathomable are the writing tense (the story is written in third person, some people may much rather prefer first person), the fact that the book had no successor or series along with it, or, complimenting that flaw, that the book was just too short. However, it is still an impressive accomplishment to fit a story of such thought provoking themes into 225 rather small pages. The writing is superb and has a classic flow that allows the reader to forget their surroundings and find themselves immersed in the plot. Clive is a very naturally gifted writer; having been a writer since the 1980’s it’s an understatement to say he’s had some experience in the field. Being an adept horror writer, this novel is strongly influenced by that trait of Mr. Barker. The vibe that is given off throughout the story is a chilling, eerie vibe, and I believe that comes directly from the author’s past experiences in writing.
I would recommend this book to just about any reader who is looking for a great, well rounded story. The length is suitable for most audiences, and within this length are incredible new thoughts and ideas to be explored. Clive Barker has done a fantastic job weaving and intertwining realities in this book. The blend of what is real and what is illusion will captivate any reader, age seven or seventy, and leave them reflecting upon their own reality, what is real and what is not, and other philosophical theories. This thought provoking novel is a wonderful read, but beware, just like Harvey, you may lose track of time after entering the realms of the thief of always.
Title: The Thief Of Always
Author: Clive Barker
Date of Publication: Nov. 18th, 1992
Number of pages: 225 (first edition), 240 (newer edition)
Genre: = Fiction
My creative piece is a drawing made by myself. When reading this book, I got a sense of trippyness, mystery and illusion. In this picture, I drew the house (one of the main subjects of the story), and incorporated many trippy images and designs. On the bottom in the pathway towards the house, I have a double headed creature. The top is a monster and the bottom is a perfect girl. I used this to show the comparison between the good and bad that comprises the Holiday House.