The Thief of Always by Clive Barker (1992) 157 p.
10-year-old Harvey Swick is bored as only a child can be, languishing in the doldrums of a grey and drizzly February, when a mysterious visitor offers to take him to a place of excitement and adventure. Not looking a gift horse in the mouth, Harvey goes along with him, and soon finds himself living in the idyllic Holiday House – a magical micro-kingdom where the mornings are springtime, the afternoons are summer, and the evening brings Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas in quick succession. Before long, of course, he begins to suspect the house is not as perfect as it seems.
The Thief of Always is a really great children’s book that combines elements of fantasy and horror, weaving a suspenseful fairytale while also examining the nature of childhood, growing up, and the inevitable passage of time. I really wish I’d read it in primary school, but I still enjoyed it as a 25-year-old. It’s a quick, fun, clever read, and while I can’t unreservedly recommend it to all adult readers, I can definitely recommend it to kids around the age of ten.