Christina Henry, author of the chilling Alice, which is a brilliant re-telling of Alice in Wonderland, has shifted focus to a new fairytale. In Lost Boy, readers get to experience the story of the boy-who-never-grew-up through the origin story of his arch-nemesis. And what a story it is.
“Peter will say I’m a villain, that I wronged him, that I never was his friend. But I told you already. Peter lies. This is what really happened.” loc 85, ebook. Goosebumps? Yeah.
Fans of the original tale will need to prepare themselves for having beloved characters shown in a new and sinister light. Think Longbourn, but worse, much worse. “I had been with Peter longer than I’d been in the Other Place, longer than I could count, anyway. The seasons did not pass here and the days had no meaning. I would be here forever. I would never grow up.” loc 146, ebook. The others in Peter’s group call the narrator, Jamie.
He is a fierce fighter- the best. And he protects the younger and weaker members of those lucky few that Peter brings back from the real world or in this tale, the Other Place. This protective instinct is sneered at by Peter who accuses Jamie of “babying” or “mothering” the boys. In truth, there is no worse insult in Peter’s arsenal. Grown ups either abuse you or take your stuff or both. They’re pirates.
“(Peter) had invited us there, had promised us we would be young and happy forever. So we were. Unless we got sick, or died, or were taken by the pirates.” loc 257, ebook. So, Neverland is not the paradise that it is portrayed as in the original tale. There are also monsters called Many-Eyed that eat the boys alive, if they catch them.
“Was this, I wondered, what it felt like to be a grown-up? Did you always feel the weight of things on you, your cares pressing you down like a burden you could never shake? No wonder Peter could fly. He had no worries to weight him to the earth.” loc 1971, ebook.
The stage is set. Love and hate intertwine with magic, blood and, of course, a little bit of fairy dust.
If you enjoyed this tale, you may also want to explore some other Peter Pan re-tellings like Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson or All Darling Children by Katrina Monroe. The last, a horror-filled offering, may really appeal to those who want to delve more into the potential shadows of Neverland. There’s a price to pay for never growing up. In that tale, as in this, Peter pays it without a qualm.
Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for a free advance reader’s copy of this book. Reminder: the short quotations I cited in this review may vary in the final published version.
Thanks for reading!