Review: The Plucker by Brom

Title: The Plucker

Author: Brom

Publishing Information: October 1, 2005 by Harry N. Abrams

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Horror

Series information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 156 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Readers wanting a beautifully illustrated novel that reads like a children’s picture book yet brings adult terrors to life.

World-renowned dark fantasy artist Brom in this illustrated novel intimately combines his dramatic storytelling with his uniquely arresting images, to create a work of striking imagination, a world where fairy-tale tradition collides with vileness and depravity, love and heroism, suffering and sacrifice. A shadowy land of make-believe where Jack and his box are stuck beneath the bed with the dust, spiders, and other castaway toys, forced to face a bitter truth: children grow up and toys are left behind. Jack believes this is the worst that can happen to a toy. But when the Plucker, a malevolent spirit, is set loose upon the world of make-believe and Jack is thrust into the unlikely role of defending Thomas, the very child who abandoned him, he finds out there is worse that can befall a toy-far worse. As desperation mounts, Jack is thrown together with Thomas’s other toys-Monkey, the Nutcracker, and the ethereally beautiful porcelain doll Snow Angel-as they struggle to rise above their simple roles as playthings in an effort to save the boy they love.

Plucker is an illustrated novel by Brom and it is a dark, twisted tale about children’s toys and their love for children. Don’t think of this as another Toy Story, it is absolutely NOT a children’s book.

This is the story of Jack (as in, Jack in the Box) who lives in a room with dozens of other toys who belong to Thomas. These toys come alive once Thomas is in bed and gallivant through his room, living it up as toys do. The only problem is that Jack has been shoved under the bed and is now a discarded toy that is to be shunned from all the others. Soon after Jack is shunned, Thomas is brought a spirit doll from his father. They place the doll above his bed and it falls, cracks open and releases a Soul Plucker who needs to feed on children’s gusto to flourish and survive. Jack becomes transformed into a Plucker killer and he sets out against the evil taking over the child’s soul.

I was very excited to read this book. I loved Brom’s The Child Thief and I think his illustrations are absolutely amazing. However this story was very different from The Child Thief, it read more like a picture book than a novel but the illustrations completely complemented the storyline.

Jack was transformed from a child’s toy who cowered in his box for comfort to a killer with a snake’s heart. African magic and voodoo play a significant part in the story and it helped create more depth, giving the story a little more than a straightforward path.

Some of the Plucker’s “minions” were gruesome and maggot filled and I found myself physically gagging over the intense descriptions. But that’s part of the reason that I enjoyed it, I love a good horror story filled with vivid imagery. Jack’s illustrations were also incredibly intricate, even his stitching was beautiful. I recommend this book to any fans of Brom or for those who like a twisted re-telling of a childhood fable.

“All around the mulberry bush,
The monkey chased the weasel,
The monkey thought ‘twas all in fun,
Pop goes the weasel.”

Review: The Child Thief by Brom

childthiefTitle: The Child Thief

Author: Brom

Publishing Information: August 25, 2009 by Harper Voyager

Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Magic, Paranormal, Retelling

Series information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 476 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Readers looking for a dark new perspective on a childhood tale, fans of having your heart ripped to pieces.

I first saw this book showcased on the shelf when I was working at Barnes & Noble. I was immediately intrigued and drawn in by the illustration on the cover. I thought to myself, “That looks like Peter Pan!” and lo and behold, it IS Peter Pan! Kind of…

Based in our modern world, Peter searches for children needing an escape from their brutal lives. Peter finds the desperate children, the ones grasping for any sense of light in a dark world. Peter waits until the opportune moment to reveal himself, knowing that at that time the children are most likely to follow him into the “paradise” he promises. However, as these children follow Peter they find that this paradise he promises is really a terrifying wilderness filled with things from your worst nightmares.

As time progresses, the children learn that this world, the world of Avalon, is slowly dying. Peter is dedicated to saving this world, his paradise, and the Lady that lives there. Peter believes the only way to save his world is to amass an army of children called the “Devils” to fight for the land he loves.

A little disclaimer: This story is NOT for children. It is NOT the story of Peter Pan from your childhood. It is harsh, sadistic and at times over the top. The children (and they are children) swear, maim and kill and they are tortured and killed in gory detail. That being said it is also one of the best books I have ever read.

Brom completely re-imagines the tale of Peter Pan, turning it into a thoroughly detailed and layered story. Avalon was once a magical and beautiful paradise, until man showed up on its shores. The “man” in question being the Captain and his crew (saw that one coming, didn’t you?) The crew is made up not of not savage men, but puritans (but really, what’s the difference?) looking to start a new civilization. As the story progresses these men do turn into beasts but the Captain remains whole and the reader gains a glimpse into his mindset. The question of who (or what) is evil is presented and as a reader I found myself wavering between the two, into an almost gray area. Brom tells the tale of horror, betrayal and dedication through a child narrator named Nick, a narrator I quickly fell in love with. Nick is a strong minded boy, who attempts to stand up for what is right while shirking away from what would be “easy.”

Although this was one of the best novels I have ever read I do admit that some parts were not so perfect. Most of the characters are extremely developed and layered with a detailed back-story. However, the character Uthger is barely fleshed out though he pays a very important part in the overall story. Also, I did not enjoy the ending. At all. I can’t go into much detail here but I will say that overall it felt rushed. The whole story leads up to this final act and suddenly it is over with no pretense. I do understand why the book ended in this way, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it!

Check out Brom’s website for a gallery of his amazing illustrations, many found in The Child Thief!