The Thief of Always

by Clive Barker

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What techniques of fantasy are used in The Thief of Always?

Barker uses many techniques of fantasy in The Thief of Always, like dramatic visualization. He uses lots of descriptive details so readers can imagine the magical setting, like in the scene in which Harvey first gets to Holiday House. Barker also made the story a cautionary tale to teach readers about the risks of being too curious.

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In his book The Thief of Always, author Clive Barker used many techniques of fantasy writing. Fantasy novels tend to include magical elements. Whether it be a magical setting or characters who can do magic, for a text to be labeled fantasy, it must have some sort of unrealistic element. Writing a fantasy text can thus be challenging for authors, because they must describe a place the reader has never seen.

One technique that writers used to craft a magical tale is dramatic visualization, the use of lots and lots of descriptive detail. Fantasy writers tend to use a lot of imagery and figurative language to help bring their imaginary world to life. Barker does this in The Thief of Always when he describes Holiday House, the magical house where the story takes place. For example, he uses the following vivid descriptions in the scene where Harvey gets to the wall at the dead-end road and ends up at Holiday House:

as he came within three steps of the wall a gust of balmy, flower-scented wind slipped between the shimmering stones and kissed his cheek. Its warmth was welcome after his long, cold trek, and he picked up his pace, reaching out to touch the wall as he approached it. The misty stones seemed to reach for him in their turn, wrapping their soft, gray arms around his shoulders, and ushering him through the wall.

Barker’s use of figurative language here, like the personification of the stones, helps the reader visualize this magical scene as if it is really happening. Barker also made the story a cautionary tale that teaches readers about the risks of being too curious. This is common in fantasy novels, as many fantasy writers make their writing an allegory for real-world experiences.

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