The Thief of Always Summary

The Thief of Always by Clive Barker is a 1992 novel about Harvey, a ten-year-old boy whose boredom propels him into an adventure marked by both magic and evil.

  • On a dreary February day, Harvey is invited by Rictus to visit the magical Holiday House, run by the powerful, wish-granting Mr. Hood.
  • Harvey comes to realize the evil, soul-stealing nature of the House and manages to escape along with Wendell, another boy trapped there.
  • After realizing that thirty-one years have passed in real life since his departure, Harvey returns to the House to destroy Mr. Hood and save the other children.


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Last Updated on August 17, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1500

It is February, and Harvey Swick, a ten-year-old boy, is bored. As he longingly stares out his rainy window, he is suddenly roused from his trance when it blows open and a short man in a suit appears. This man, whose name is Rictus, offers Harvey an adventure, but Harvey has to agree not to question anything. A week later, Rictus appears on Harvey’s walk to school and invites him to a place called Holiday House, which is owned by a Mr. Hood.

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Harvey and Rictus travel across town to a wall at dead-end road. The wall in front of them begins to magically transform, opening the way to a beautiful, sunny expanse and a giant house. Inside the house, Harvey meets an old woman named Mrs. Griffin and a young girl named Lulu. Harvey explains he must get home to his parents, but Lulu says they know he is there. He calls his parents, who confirm her words, and decides to stay.

The next day, Harvey meets a boy named Wendell. They build a tree house together and plan to fish in the lake until they are stopped by Mrs. Griffin, who says the fish are “poisonous.” Harvey decides to visit the lake anyway but finds there is no sun, and the fish seem to be staring at him.

He returns to Wendell and notices the season has changed from summer to autumn. Wendell explains that all the seasons and major holidays occur every day and says that they need to return to the House now to prepare for Halloween.

That night, they see a shape fly through the sky, which distracts Harvey long enough to lose Wendell in the darkness. Harvey swears he hears someone tell him Wendell is in the tree house. Convinced Wendell is playing a prank, he runs towards it. As Harvey climbs the ladder, a body falls, tied to a noose. It scares Harvey until he realizes it is fake and sees Wendell is laughing. Harvey swears he will get revenge.

Back at the house, Harvey finds Lulu looking out the window at what is now a snowy night. She tells him to make a wish because it will soon be Christmas. Harvey wishes for a wooden ark, one that his father made him years before. To his surprise, he receives the ark, but he feels unsettled by it.

Time passes, and Harvey takes the ark to the lake to see if it will float, but he accidentally falls in. He feels like he is being pulled under and fights to get back to shore. He manages to save himself but not the ark. He doesn’t tell anyone what happened.

One night Jive, Rictus’s brother, comes to visit and tells Harvey he needs to scare Wendell. He brings Harvey to the roof and has his sister, Marr, change him into a terrifying vampire bat. Harvey flies off the roof, sending Wendell running for the House. Wendell begs for his life and tells the “creature” to eat a boy named Harvey instead. Harvey is hurt by this betrayal but decides he won’t tell Wendell it was him.

The next afternoon, Wendell tries to leave the property, but there is no way out. Harvey that realizes the mist at the entry to the property causes confusion, always seeming to direct them back toward the house. Harvey questions Mrs. Griffin, who eventually confesses that they are all trapped. She tells Harvey to try to enjoy what they have because time moves quicker than he realizes. Harvey pretends to take her...

(The entire section contains 1500 words.)

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