He didn’t bring magic and fun and eternal youth. He brought fear and madness and death, trailing blood behind him, trailing all the corpses of all the boys behind him.
And yet it didn’t weigh him to the earth at all. Every drop of spilled blood only made him lighter, gave him the freedom to fly.
Christina Henry | ‘Lost Boy’ | p. 275f
As some of you might already know, I am a sucker for dark and twisted retellings, so I really didn’t have any choice but to read this retelling of the classic fairy tale ‘Peter Pan’. Last year for example, I reread another retelling of ‘Peter Pan’, my all-time-favourite book ‘Tiger Lily’ by J.L. Anderson. And although it’s also twisted and dark, this one by Christina Henry is another level of dark. And oh my goodness, this was so damn dark and so twisted I could barely breathe or stop from crying throughout the story. Even as I read the blurb on the back of the book I got shivers all over my body, and it appealed to me right away. I knew on the spot I had to read it, like right now:
Blurb: “There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. Once I loved a boy called Peter Pan. Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. He wants always to be that shining sun that we all revolve around. He’ll do anything to be that sun. Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever. Peter will say I’m a villain, that I wronged him, that I never was his friend. Peter Lies.”
I started this book as part of my readathon in the beginning of February – and it was that kind of book you pick up and can’t stop reading while wishing for it to never come to an end. And because I am still feeling so overwhelmed by that book and really do not want to spoil anyone, I will hold the following review as vague as possible.
This retelling is about Peter Pan, the boy who never wants to grow up. Recently I read the original story about the boy who longs to be a child forever, and I did not expect it to be this sinister. [For a review on J.M. Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan’, follow this link.] ‘Lost Boy’ is also quite dark in a way that freezes your heart, and it tells the story long before Peter showed up at the windowsill of Wendy Moira Angela Darling and her brothers and convinced them to fly to Neverland with him so he could show them the wonders of his own paradise. But it is also the story of the first of his band of lost boys, Jamie, the very first playmate that Peter Pan took from the Other Place. After Jamie, there followed some more young boys – boys who were beaten on the streets, boys with no loving home – and together, they start their own adventures, and none of them grow old. Because Peter had promised them freedom, adventures, exciting dangers with raids on pirates and the boys love him for their freedom in the wildness of Neverland.
“It’s not such a wonderful thing, to be young,” I said. “It’s heartless, and selfish.”
“But, oh, so free,” Nod said sadly. “So free when you have no worries or cares.” – p. 296
The nature of Peter is very close to the one he has in the original play from 1967. Although he seems so wild and free and lovable at times for his need to play and stay young – he is also very forgetful of the boys around him, if not simply indifferent. He can be vicious and cruel and here Christina Henry did a marvelous job at characterizing Peter and the lost boys. I was shocked and my heart bled way too often because of all the things that happen during the story. I felt like I was holding my breath the whole time I was reading because I was expecting something to lunge at me from every corner of this book and for me that is storytelling at its best.
It is wonderful how ‘Lost Boy’ is a spectacular story on its own and how you can still see bits and pieces of the original shimmering through, which adds to the depth of the story Henry tells us. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good and gripping story line, who enjoys dark and gory retellings, or loves the story of Peter Pan and is interested in a different view on the child from Neverland who will never grow old.
Author: Christina Henry
Title: Lost Boy
Press: Titan Books
Year of publication: 2017
[Genre: Fantasy | Retelling]