The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

I’ve been reading in fits and starts since my daughter was born, a few pages here or a chapter there during her feeds and naps, but this was such a short, gripping story that I read it in a couple of sittings.

Ten year old Harvey Swick is bored, when one dreary February day he’s visited by a strange creature called Rictus who invites him to visit the mysterious Mr Hood’s Holiday House.

One by one, Harvey meets Mr Hood’s servants, kindly Mrs Griffin and her cats, as well as the mysterious “brood” of siblings Rictus, Jive, Marr, and Carna, each of them performing a different role for their master and threatening in their own way, though Hood himself remains hidden.

Mr Hood’s house is a wondrous place where there are four seasons in one day everyday, spring mornings turn into summer afternoons with Halloween every evening and Christmas every night.

Yet things take a sinister turn when a Halloween trick goes too far, and Harvey and the other children realise that they’re prisoners in Hood’s world of illusions.

This is a thrilling and sinister children’s horror story that reminds us to live in the present and not to wish our lives away – a pertinent message during lockdown when it feels like life is on hold. Have a lovely week. X

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