I think I read it during a battle of the books event in Alaska in the 1999-2002 range.

The story is about a kid who finds a house where everything is wonderful and perfect, and morning is always spring, noon is summer, afternoon is autumn and nighttime is winter. Every night they all open presents like its Christmas and its just perfect.

All the kids speak of Mr./Ms ____ who runs the house but none of the kids have ever seen them. I remember a pair of quotes where the protagonist realizes that "Mr. __ WAS the house!" and then later, when there ends up a war as some of the kids try to escape, the house itself starts to attack them with the phrase, "The house became Mr. ___". Eventually some of the kids escape and find out they have been missing for years. As many years as they had days in the house.

And one girl turned into a fish... I think, my memory on that bit is super vague.

  • Anchorage, Alaska. I was on a MASSIVE reading kick in those years so I was reading anything and everything that had the slightest recommendation to it. Oct 12, 2020 at 22:05
  • Was this an official event (with a website and marketing, etc)?
    – Valorum
    Oct 12, 2020 at 22:20

1 Answer 1


This is The Thief of Always by Clive Barker. Quoting some matching parts of the Wikipedia summary:

Harvey Swick is a 11-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 31 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 claims to have been there longer than anybody. And though she seems sweet, she appears to be keeping a secret about the house and its creator, Mr. Hood. Harvey eventually 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 the mysterious, dark, gloomy lake. Lulu is turned into a fish the night of Harvey's escape, but Harvey and Wendell still manage to flee the house 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, one year had passed in the rest of the world.

The Wikipedia summary doesn't mention it, but the battle against Mr. Hood at the end involves him forming a new body out of the wreckage of the Holiday House, hence "The house became Mr. Hood."


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