The great god Pan is...
alive? & in Prospect Park.
I picked this up from the Brom name alone. I have really been into him-- I think probably starting with the cover of Harlequin's Back. I have a thing for commedia del'arte soldiers. A pretty big thing. Anyhow, Brom's art adorns plenty of roleplaying material, but I've followed him over to his less & less illustrated novels, from Plucker to Devil's Rose. This book has black & white pieces at the front of each chapter, & an insert of colour pages in the middle, but isn't what you'd call an illustrated novel, you know?
The Child Thief is at its most basic a retelling of Peter Pan-- a dark retelling. In the afterword he says it was reading the actual text of Peter Pan that inspired it, which-- yeah, duh. If you read the actual Peter Pan, he's a pretty bloodthirsty & selfish monster. It is great. So Brom imported the myth into the modern world, & mixed in a strong helping of British mythology. The "dark modern world" is laid on pretty thick at first; I mean, Roman Polanski evil, you know? Almost cartoonish, except you know there are people who are raping kids & getting away with it (topical!) & so it is kind of distressingly plausible. Well, if pressed. The beginning is almost like the fiction in one of White Wolf's World of Darkness books-- everything is decayed & everything that could go wrong is turned up to 11. The main character (besides Peter) is from Park Slope, but not the gentrified Park Slope I live in-- no, a spooky, gang ravaged place. It gets to be a bit much, but once that shuffles into Avalon (which substitutes for Neverneverland) things really start falling into place.
A weakness the book has is that it occasionally asides to talk about the boring old "technology destroyed the magic in the world!" trope, combined with the sort of condescending attitude towards indigenous peoples. No, the aboriginal Americans did not live in a Garden of Eden in perfect harmony with "nature." Sorry. Neither did the ancient Celts. That aside though, Brom does some very clever stuff with the British Island mythology. The Lady of the Lake is part of a trinity of gods who made Avalon home, including The Witch & the Horned One...it should come as no surprise that (spoiler!) Peter is revealed to be the bastard son of the Horned One. See, because Peter Pan, right? I've always been fascinated with that cognomen, so I was happy to see Brom capitalize on it. Also, the treatment that The Captain gets is really interesting. It goes in an unexpected direction. & yeah, Christianity is made out to be a big bad, too-- witch hunt style Puritanism-- which I only fault as being a little tired. Then again, I might be jaded to that more than others. All in all, I liked it, & more & more as I got into it.