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''The Thief of Always'' is a fable written by Creator/CliveBarker that may read like a children's book, but it's just as enjoyable for adults. It deals with [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor temptation]], [[GrowingUpSucks growing up]] and [[WhoWantsToLiveForever mortality]], and it has a few good helpings of horror, as expected of Clive Barker.

Ten-year-old Harvey Swick is unsatisfied with boring, day-to-day life; he is sick of dealing with school, homework, nagging parents... Until a shady figure named Rictus appears in his room and offers him a stay at the "[[HappyPlace Holiday House]]", a [[LotusEaterMachine paradise]] where kids don't age or ever have work. There are four seasons a day, every night is Christmas, and the House grants any wish, all made possible by a man called Mr. Hood.

Harvey quickly befriends the incumbent residents of the house: two other kids named Wendell and Lulu, kindly caretaker Mrs. Griffin and her seemingly sentient cats, and two of Rictus's "siblings". However, some sinister hints are dropped, such as the collection of [[InfantImmortality children's]] [[AvertedTrope clothes]] in the attic, the forbidden lake behind the House, and mentions of a fourth member of Rictus's family called "[[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Carna]]". Above all, who is Mr. Hood and where does he get his power from? Eventually, Harvey's curiosity and growing suspicions about the House lead him to discover some unpleasant truths...
!! This work provides examples of:
* AdultsAreUseless: Due to Hood's magic, only children can find the house. When adults try, all attempts to find the House fail.
%%* {{Animorphism}}
* BadFuture: [[spoiler:The first time Harvey escapes, it's revealed that a year passed for every day spent at Holiday House. ''Harvey disappeared for 30 years and returned to his parents as a 10-year-old boy.'']]
* TheBarnum: [[spoiler: Hood gains immortality by luring in gullible, greedy, lazy or just plain lonely children to the Holiday House and then taking their souls when they've spent enough time there.]]
%%* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: The book's premise
* BigBrotherIsWatching: ''[[spoiler:The House itself]]'' is listening to you.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:The heroes escape Holiday House, but they have to go back to their separate time periods. When Harvey encounters Lulu again outside the House, she's already grown up and engaged.]]
* BodyHorror: [[spoiler: Lulu's gradual transformation into a fish.]]
%%* ChekhovsGun
%%* CheshireCatGrin: Rictus
%%* CoolOldLady: Mrs. Griffin
* DarkIsEvil: But it's hard to spot the darkness at first...
%%* DealWithTheDevil
* DeliciousDistraction: Harvey doesn't fall for it, but Wendell does.
%%* DevourTheDragon
%%* DidNotGetTheGirl
* DisneyVillainDeath (doubles as KarmicDeath): Hood is killed when he falls [[spoiler:into the lake and is pulled into a swirling vortex]], which agonisingly destroys him.
%%* TheDitz: Wendell
%%* TheDragon: Carna
%%* EarnYourHappyEnding
%%* EpiphanicPrison
* TheFaceless: Mr. Hood does [[spoiler: make a "body" for himself from the remains of Holiday House]], but his true face is never seen.
* FantasticFragility: To defeat the BigBad, Harvey [[spoiler: wishes up a real, live ark, then an impossible feast, then for every season at once, under the guise of a soon-to-be apprentice testing his master's power]]. This ends up destroying the House and draining the BigBad's power.
%%* TheFogOfAges: Mrs. Griffin
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Harvey's transformation into a vampire for Halloween
* GivingThemTheStrip: Henry is grabbed by the back of the jacket, so he slips out of his jacket to escape.
* GrowingUpSucks: Played with. It's definitely a theme in the beginning of the novel.
%%* HappyPlace: Holiday House
* HeWhoMustNotBeSeen: Mr. Hood, for the majority of the book
%%* HoistByHisOwnPetard: [[spoiler: Marr, Jive. And Hood to a lesser extent.]]
%%* ImmortalityImmorality
* ImpossiblyDeliciousFood: Every night is Halloween, then Thanksgiving.
* InvoluntaryShapeshifting: When [[spoiler: Marr is [[HoistByHisOwnPetard hoisted by her own petard.]] ]]
* JediMindTrick: [[spoiler: Hood's illusions]] can be very persuasive for the WeakWilled.
%%* KidHero
%%* KindheartedCatLover: Mrs. Griffin
%%* TheLittleShopThatWasntThereYesterday
* LonersAreFreaks: Wendell believes that Lulu qualifies for this trope, but once Harvey gets to know her she's quite nice. Unfortunately, there's a reason (see BodyHorror) why she keeps to herself...
%%* LotusEaterMachine
%%* MasterOfIllusion: [[spoiler: Hood]]
* MeaningfulName: [[BodyHorror Marr]], Jive, [[CheshireCatGrin Rictus]]
%%* MoreTeethThanTheOsmondFamily: Carna, Rictus.
%%* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: Carna
* NotSoDifferent: See TitleDrop.
** Strictly speaking, [[spoiler: Hood]] is ''completely'' correct in this assessment; they've both stolen things that make a person what they are -- things that should never be taken by anyone. [[spoiler: Hood has stolen the souls of the children lured to his Holiday House, while Harvey has stolen the lives of Hood's illusory minions]] The difference comes in ''why'' they did it -- Harvey did it [[spoiler: to lure out Hood so he could defeat him and save the children trapped there]], while [[spoiler: Hood has merely done it to extend his warped existence and feed his unholy hunger.]] The difference between heroism and villainy sometimes isn't in ''what'' you do, but '''why''' you do it. Not the sort of thing you tend to see in a children's book.
%%* OlderThanTheyLook: The residents of the House
%%* OneWingedAngel
* OurSoulsAreDifferent: [[spoiler: Losing yours apparently causes you to turn into a fish.]]
%%* OurVampiresAreDifferent
* PleasureIsland: At the Holiday House there are four seasons a day, every night is Christmas, and the House grants any wish, all made possible by a man called Mr. Hood. Eventually though, Harvey's curiosity and growing suspicions about the House lead him to discover some unpleasant truths...
%%* PoweredByAForsakenChild
%%* QuirkyMinibossSquad: Rictus and his family
%%* TheRenfield: Rictus is revealed to be one.
%%* ResetButtonEnding: [[RippleEffectProofMemory Sort of.]]
%%* TheReveal
* RightBehindMe: [[spoiler: After Hood is seemingly defeated, Rictus reveals that he had secretly stolen some of Hood's power for himself. But then a hand reaches out of the ruins of the House and grabs him... ]]
%%* RippleEffectProofMemory
* TitleDrop: In a NotSoDifferent moment, [[spoiler: "Vampire King" Hood]] tells Harvey he is a "Thief of Always" just like him.
%%* TrappedInAnotherWorld
* TheTrickster: Rictus appears to be this at first, but later on it's shown that Harvey fits the heroic variation.
* VoluntaryShapeshifting: Played with. Marr has the ability to transform ''other'' people, she uses it to turn Harvey into a giant bat at his request. [[HoistByHisOwnPetard However]]...
%%* WeakWilled: Wendell
%%* WeCanRuleTogether: [[spoiler: Hood]] plays this straight with [[spoiler: Harvey]].
%%* WhatYearIsThis
%%* WhoWantsToLiveForever: Mrs. Griffin
%%* YearOutsideHourInside
%%* YouHaveFailedMe: [[spoiler: Rictus]]
%%* YourPrincessIsInAnotherCastle