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The Thief of Always

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  29,256 ratings  ·  1,988 reviews
Master storyteller and bestselling novelist Clive Barker creates an enchanting tale for both children and adults to cherish and retell. The Thief of Always tells the haunting story of Harvey, a bright 10-year-old who is suffering from the winter doldrums, and of a creature who takes him to a place where every day is filled with fun, and Christmas comes every night. Illustr ...more
Hardcover, 225 pages
Published November 1992 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1992)
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Andre Stackhouse Well I'm not sure of anything specific, but I'd say it qualifies as a modern fairy tale. Hansel and Gretel comes to mind. It's also sometimes compared…moreWell I'm not sure of anything specific, but I'd say it qualifies as a modern fairy tale. Hansel and Gretel comes to mind. It's also sometimes compared to Coraline by Neil Gaimen, though that was a decade later. Coraline was influenced by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, so I'd say it's fair to say there's a bit of that in there too. Anyway, this is all speculation about one of my favorite authors and books!(less)
Sadie It does focus on Harvey a lot, but also focuses on Wendel, and Lulu.
It does focus on Harvey a lot, but also focuses on Wendel, and Lulu.

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Johann (jobis89)
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"The great grey beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive."

Harvey Swick is a 10-year-old boy who is bored with his life - he's tired of school, homework and the winter months. That is, until a creature tells him all about a place called the Holiday House, where you can have anything you wish for and it is Christmas every evening.

It's not very often that I read a book that completely changes my outlook on life. It happens once in a blue moon, but when I do find these books they are extra specia
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Ten-year-old Harvey Swick is invited to Mr. Hood’s Holiday House, a thousand-year-old dwelling that welcomes children to enjoy its rapidly changing seasons, explore its grounds filled with mythical creatures, and partake of the delicious meals prepared by the house cook, Mrs. Griffin. At first, Harvey thinks Holiday House is the best thing that’s ever happened to him, but he soon discovers not all is as

Sooooooooo, I mentioned that I had sworn off Mr. Clive Barker yeeeeeeeears ago- due to squeamishness- Ms. Stepheny called me on it- and said, "PLEASE... PLEASE...PLEASE- read THE THIEF OF ALWAYS before making your final judgement on allllllllll of his work".

Okay, Stepheny, I stand corrected- not all of his work is GROSS. In fact I quite enjoyed this blood-less tale.

[image error] photo 78224d42-6794-4cca-83e8-42cb2654c099_zpsq0yc1hvm.jpg

10-year-old Harvey Swick is bored...bored, bored with school. Bored with the dreary weather, and bored with his day-t
Jun 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone ever
Recommended to Laurel by: My 6th grade self
Edit 5: I now have a first edition thanks to a bookstore selling old books and it is in perfect condition thank you world.

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).

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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
Sadie Hartmann
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Always a no spoiler/no plot detail review...
I wish I would have read this book when I was like 12 or 13, what a very powerful book this would have been to me. But, sadly I only just read it now at age 41 but since I'm still a huge lover of children's fiction (especially dark children's fiction) I still found this story to be every bit as magical and scary as it intended to be.
This is my first Clive Barker book that I've finished. I started previous works (Mister B. Gone and The Great and Secret
Oh, you’re a horror fan? Read Clive Barker.

Steph, check out Clive Barker. You’ll love him.

Have you read any Barker? He’s brilliant!

These are all things that were being said to me for the last few years. I took note. Then I saw Stephen King saying that Clive Barker is the future of the horror genre. Well, if I am going to listen to anyone I am going to listen to Stephen King.

Everyone knows this.

I took the encouragement of some of my goodreads friends and went with it. I decided to go with the Th
Michael || TheNeverendingTBR
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
“The great gray beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive.”

From the opening line we're quickly transported into a tale that's equally parts horror, fantasy and fairy tale.

The main character Harvey is suffering with dissatisfaction and boredom with his life and is tricked into becoming a visitor to Mr. Hood’s Holiday House a seemingly magical house where bored children can go to take a break from their normal lives, but obviously - things aren't what they seem.

This was an easy read with short c
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, own-read
Great book to read on a rainy day.

What I liked the most (apart from story) are the illustrations. They were really creepy, and reminded me of Neil Gaiman's Coraline, which is one of my favorite books. The story is also similar to Coraline, but it does have its twists.

Really fun and fast read, and looking forward to reading more books from this author. The guy knows how to tell a good story.
Jun 09, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ten year olds who aren't afraid of monsters
I remember being a kid and being bored, and it is THE WORST. It wasn't just the boredom, it was the feeling of needing something but having no idea what. Awful. It will ruin your life.

And that is how you become me.

I don't really have much to say about this book. It's my second Barker, and vastly different than the first of his that I'd read (The Hellbound Heart). I liked this one well enough, and it's a quick read (or would have been if I didn't have this need to make new levels in Mario Maker
Ashley Daviau
Aug 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To me The Thief of Always is Clive Barker at his absolute best. It comes very close to beating The Hellbound Heart and that’s saying something because that book is one of my all time favourite novels. And this one comes pretty damn fucking close! It’s the most delicious blend of horror and fantasy and coming of age all rolled into one magical package and I ate it right up. Barker truly excels when he writes for a more young adult audience and the proof of it is clear in this story. I was complet ...more
Harvey Swick is ten years old and bored out of his skull. It's that dreary month of February, Christmas is over and summer is too far in the future for a small boy to contemplate. He just wants to have some fun. Through an open window flies a man in black by the name of Rictus. His smile is all sharp teeth and is as wide as his face, but he has a glib tongue and promises Harvey all kinds of fun. Plenty of playmates, the coolest treehouse ever, and a house that is almost too good to be true await ...more
Timothy Urges
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Thief of Always follows Harvey Swick, a boy bored with the mundanity of life and the slow tick of time, as he enters Mr. Hood’s Holiday House. The Holiday House brings every pleasure imaginable to the lives of the children that find it, but at a cost.

Child-friendly Clive Barker is as imaginative as the gore-infested Clive Barker that I love. I wish I had read this as a child.
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, top-shelf
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 beas
Pantelis Andreou
«His possessions had gone into a nightmare place, full of monstrous things, and he felt as though a little part of himself had gone with it, down into the dark.»

For a children’s book, there are so many things an adult can enjoy and appreciate while learning a lesson or two while reading.

Barker did it again.. i loved almost everything i read from him (i say almost because the damnation game really was a miss for me) and he can sure can kill it with a genre like this. The man is a legend. Having a
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
”I know a place where the days are always sunny, and the nights are full of wonders.”
Said the small man who mysteriously appears in Harvey's bedroom on a blustery rainy day. The day is a day in February, the worst of months. The month that swallows the hope of summer. Before the man can fill further promise, he is gone, but with the words, “Watch for me!” Perhaps it had only been a dream.

The man called Rictus does appear again, floating down from a cloud in his puffed-up coat. This time tho
Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*
The great gray beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive.

A 10-year old boy seeks to conquer the monstrous ennui particular to his age, and finds something far more terrifying in this timeless fantasy horror fable. The story doesn't break new ground; it stays rooted in horror tradition and delivers a simple and solid tale. For comparison, Stephen King's The Eyes of the Dragon is a meatier story, and Neil Gaiman would have inserted endless whimsy. Barker, though, doesn't fancify any of it, stick
Michael Sorbello
Harvey Swick is bored out of his mind. Bored of life, bored of school, bored of everything. One day, Harvey makes a wish for things to change. All he wants is a little bit of fun and excitement in his dull life. Little did he know, someone was listening, someone that was willing to grant him his wish. During a dark and stormy night, a mysterious man named Rictus pays Harvey a visit. He tells him of a magical place called the Holiday House, where all his wishes and desires can be brought to life. ...more
Peter (Peer105)
3.5 stars.

Hype is always tricky. In the best cases a book can live up to it, but most often it does not. The Thief of Always was such a case for me. It was good, but it wasn't excellent.

Let's start with the writing. This was my first Barker and I have to say, I adored the writing! I have absolutely nothing negative to say about it. This baby reads as smooth as spreading butter on toast.

The plot I liked, but I also never got the sense I was reading something super original. Barker included handma
Abbie | ab_reads
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have to thank my bestie @jobis89 for quite literally forcing this book into my hands by getting it for me for Christmas, and THIS EDITION. Gah. It’s almost too beautiful. Clive Barker illustrated it himself, and while I always enjoy a surprise illustration in a book, these were on another level, I swear. They toe the line between truly dark horror and children’s drawings, and admittedly (I’m thinking of Marr here), cross that line occasionally, but who didn’t love reading a book as a kid and g ...more
Deacon D.
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From one of the masters of modern horror comes this darkly delightful little fable, perfect for holiday reading. A joy from beginning to end! ☺
Alex | | findingmontauk1
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
What a fun and imaginative story! 5 stars and full review to come
Paul O’Neill
Jan 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a place of illusions. Wouldn’t he be happier here if he just stopped questioning what was real and what wasn’t?

One of my favourite books of all time. If you loved Robert McCammon's Boy's Life, or Stephen King's IT, you should love this. It has the same feel, and Barker has crafted such a tight, scary, immersive story in The Thief of Always.

I should really read more Barker, he's the master of turning your spine icy-cold:
She had a face like a rolled-up ball of cobwebs, from which her hair
Nils | nilsreviewsit
‘Your tears are sweet, child. And so are you. Now you go out into the light and enjoy yourself. There’s sun on the step, and it won’t be there forever, believe me.’

The Thief of Always by Clive Barker was such a fun, dark and magical book. At its heart this is children’s book, a fable, but honestly it’s one of those stories that can be thoroughly enjoyed by adults too.

The main character Harvey Swick; a ten year old boy who is extremely bored with life, gets more than he wished for when a mysterio
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I decided to re-enter the surreal world of Clive Barker. I seem to be doing things backwards. I watched the Hellraiser film at 10 years old, read some of his more 'adult' books in my teens, & now at the age of 36, I've finally got around to reading a book I clearly should have read many years ago.

Yet another great book by Clive Barker. I enjoyed the story itself, but I also loved the sentiment within the story, about not wishing your life away. If we got rid of all the days that contained things
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it

Harvey is 10 and bored...

Soooooo bored...

So when he is offered the chance of visiting a holiday house with unlimited food and presents, where it is spring, summer, autumn and winter all in one day how can he resist!

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All is not what it seems and soon things take a turn for the sinister.

This is a dark and fantastical tale that is ultimately about what it is to be human.
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Time passes ... and the beetle and the worm find their way into everything sooner or later."

This book was really hard to put down! Well written and a great intro for me into Clive Barker's written works.
Matt Rudy
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it

“However this miraculous place worked, it seemed real enough. The sun was hot, the soda was cold, the sky was blue, the grass was green. What more did he need to know?”

Harvey Swick is a 10 year old boy who wishes to be saved from another boring February day. Later on a creature named Rictus grants his wish, and brings him to the Holiday House. A place where magic is endless and wishes come true. While he is there he meets some other kids. They were also taken from the real world to come t
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book by clive barker. It's about this boy who goes to this house of seasons. It's a story worth checking out and one of the first Clive Barker books I checked out that got me started on his books. I hope one day that thief of always becomes a film because it is a pretty good story. ...more
Apr 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
“What did it matter, anyway, he thought, whether this was a real place or a dream? It felt real, and that was all that mattered.”

Henry Swick is a regular 10-years-old kid who loves to have fun and hates to be bored. He hates it so much that when one day a man flies through his bedroom window and tells him about a special house where it's always fun, he just can't say refuse his offer to join him.

This is my first Barker and I'm sorry to say I didn't enjoy it as much as everyone else did. I had n
Robert Bickers
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: taught
Read Synopsis
Wow! 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 Neu
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Clive Barker was born in Liverpool, England, the son of Joan Rubie (née Revill), a painter and school welfare officer, and Leonard Barker, a personnel director for an industrial relations firm. Educated at Dovedale Primary School and Quarry Bank High School, he studied English and Philosophy at Liverpool University and his picture now hangs in the entrance hallway to the Philosophy Department. It ...more

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