The Thief of Always is a novel by Clive Barker that was published in 1992. The book is a fable written for children, but intended to be read by adults as well. The book’s cover was created by Barker and the book contains several dogs and elephants illustrations by the author.
Harvey Swick is a 10-year-old boy bored with school, teachers, homework, and his day-to-day life. In response to Harvey’s frustrated plea for change, a man named Rictus visits Harvey and tells him about a kid’s paradise called the Holiday House. At the Holiday House, there are all the sweets a person could ask for, four seasons in a day, Halloween every evening, Christmas, with whatever gifts you could wish for every night, and everything else you could dream of. One week after his encounter with Rictus, Harvey hesitantly visits the house, entering through a wall of mist. Harvey stays at the Holiday House for thirty-one days, becoming friends with two other children staying alongside him, Wendell and Lulu. There is also a woman, Mrs. Griffin, who cooks all the meals for the children. She says that she has been there longer than anybody. She is very nice and sweet, but she appears to be keeping a secret about the house and its creator, Mr Hood. Harvey discovers that the house’s creator, Mr. Hood, has sucked all of the children’s souls away and turned them into fish, imprisoning them in a dark, gloomy lake. Lulu is turned into a fish, but they children still manage to escape by following a cat named Blue-Cat through the mist barrier that constantly surrounds the property of the house at night.
When both Harvey and Wendell come home, they soon discover that for every day they had spent in the Holiday House, a year has passed in the rest of the world. When Harvey meets his parents, he thinks he went to the wrong house, but he is wrong. His parents also realize who he is and invite him in. He takes a long nap and then tells them what happened. They go on the search of the House, but Harvey had forgotten all the roads he took coming home. They try all day, but Harvey and his parents can’t find the House.
Harvey’s father finally decides to go to the police station. While he is at the police station, Harvey and his mother are at home. Harvey’s mother decides to go out shopping and Harvey goes up to his room. When he is in his room, he sees Wendell in the street walking towards Harvey’s house. Wendell tells Harvey that Wendell’s mother is old, fat, and divorced. Harvey also tells Wendell what happened to him. They both think about what happened in the Holiday House and decide that the only way to regain their lost time is to return to the Holiday House. Upon doing so, Harvey learns that Hood runs the entire house on magic and illusions.
Harvey defeats Hood by tricking him into using up all of his magic by wishing for as many things he can think of as fast as he can. With his power drained, an exhausted Hood allows Harvey one more wish. Harvey wishes for all the seasons at once, resulting in a furious lightning storm that burns down the house. Hood seems to perish in the fire, but he manages to rebuild a body from the debris of the house, and remarks at Harvey’s courage. He contrasts Harvey with Wendell, who has succumbed to the House’s lures and wishes to stay forever in a trance. Hood then offers Harvey, whom he calls “A Thief of Always,” the chance to become a vampire with him and be immortal. Harvey refuses, and the confrontation ends with Hood being sucked into the lake, which has turned into a or whirlpool. The children all leave the remains of the house to go back to their respective times.