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The Thief of Always

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4.19  ·  Rating details ·  28,302 ratings  ·  1,750 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. ...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)

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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
...more
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 it
...more
Delee

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
...more
Laurel
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’
...more
Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror
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
...more
Stepheny
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
...more
Becky
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
...more
Mario
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-read, own
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.
Zoeytron
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
Chris
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
...more
Ron
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
...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
...more
Abbie | ab_reads
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 ...more
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
...more
Lisa
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Creepy!

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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Buuutttt...

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.
Jules
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
...more
Michela (michelaslibrary)
“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
...more
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
...more
Amber
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.
Matt Rudy
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5

“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
...more
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
Clive Barker brings readers this delightful fairy tale, surrounding the main character of young Harvey, a bright adventurous young boy with a stubborn streak. I advise not being put off by its seemingly childlike innocence; this one features monstrous beings, cruel twists of fate, and genuinely frightening outcomes. All ages can enjoy Thief of Always, for it stirs up the imagination and brings back that child in all of us.

Starting off with the basics (Harvey is bored), we are quickly whirled
...more
Michelle {Book Hangovers}
This was the first book that I actually picked up and wanted to read by choice. Being in middle school and forced to read what was on their criteria never amused me at all! So I really owe a thank you to Mr. Clive Barker for opening up my mind and a whole new world for me!
This was my first book I read, wanted to read and enjoyed reading it from start to finish!!!

3 time Re-reading: March 1-5 2018= still remains a favorite of mine. Clive Barker remain my favorite author
Siân Plummer (plumreads__s)
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review to come on scifiandscary.com
Yami
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Yami by: Johann (jobis89)
Whoa. What a tale!
I only read a few pages a week ago and I couldn't pick it up before yesterday but when I did, it was un-put-down-able!

I'll write a more elaborate reviewsoon...
andrea caro
I have no real idea what to rate this. Read more like a YA than an adult novel.
Nate
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Pitch perfect in every way, Barker really shines on this one. I could see kids reading this at age 9 without issue. Would recommend to any fans of the interstice betwen horror and fantasy or anyone looking for a good yarn.
Bettie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brandon
Apr 03, 2012 rated it liked it
A friend recommended this to me, and the very next day ANOTHER friend recommended Barker's Abarat, so it seemed like too big of a coincidence to put off reading him any longer. This was a very quick read, and you know a book is good when you lose all sense of time. I read straight through without stopping. The opening sentence, which is, perhaps, the most crucial part of any book, is definitely one of the best I've ever read, and I enjoyed how Barker kept referencing it throughout. I've said it ...more
Linda
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Although this was my second time reading this book, I didn't remember anything from the first time through given I read it 25 years ago when it was first published.

I'm used to the all out horror and gore of the other Clive Barker books I've read, and this one is definitely NOT that. Although his book definitely has its creepy moments, it is firmly in the YA genre. I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second half only because I thought the resolution felt a little too "easy".
...more
Laura
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Time is precious! So why not fill it with 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 ?!

This is a story for all ages that may show you what you'll miss, if you let your life be grey and dull. So go ahead and read it to find out!

Happy reading! :)
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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
“Wherever I go, I will speak of you with love.” 142 likes
“Evil, however powerful it seemed, could be undone by its own appetite.” 51 likes
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