Lost Boy by Christina Henry
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication date: 04 July 2017
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
While Peter Pan may have originated as a fairly modern play, it has fairy tale status in the public consciousness. A boy who never grows up, an island filled with childlike wonder, and a grand adventure, the story of Peter Pan has been told by everyone from Disney to London’s west end theaters – it is a tale that many children grow up loving.
However, I’ve always felt there was a dark side to Peter and I’ve always found Peter Pan to be creepy. Apparently I’m not the only one. Christina Henry, who brought us the dark and twisted Alice books, takes on the story is just as deliciously dark as I have always felt it should be.
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.
Jamie is Peter’s right hand man. He’s the first child that Peter whisked away from our world and into Neverland. Henry takes the magical world of Neverland and turns it into the dangerous and frightening place Jamie sees. He has managed to survive for longer than any of the other boys, and the years have worn on him. He’s the one who cares for the Lost Boys — he makes sure they’re fed and safe, he nurses them when they’re wounded, and he buries them when they’ve died.
I really loved the characterization of both Peter and Jamie – it is truly a story of their relationship rather than a straight narrative. When the book begins, Jamie has begun to shake Peter’s spell over him. He still falls into old habits of worshipping Peter and believing, just as the other Lost Boys do, that he is Peter’s favorite. The book is told in the first person, therefore we get Jamie’s thoughts and really see his struggles. My only critique is that the US version of the book, cover and subtitle included, are pretty spoilery. I saw that version when I had looked it up and knew exactly where the story was going! I wish it had been a little more subtle, but even so it’s not a huge surprise.
We don’t see the Disney version of Peter Pan: instead we see a perpetual child who is forever jealous and uncaring. He can easily replace the Lost Boys and has no emotion or feeling when they are hurt or killed. He’s actually quite frightening, particularly as the story progresses and Jamie begins to pull the veil from his own eyes.
Lost Boy is a dark, bloody take on the Peter Pan story – it’s not a book for the faint of heart. Reading it feels like you’ve discovered the original Grimm version of Peter Pan after only knowing the sanitized Disney version — a horrifying discovery that many of us have made with Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Henry’s characters shine in her twisted and chilling version of Neverland, a place most children has dreamed of visiting. Jamie’s fall from friend to outcast is well-written and he becomes a serious character worth of sympathy – a far cry from the story we all saw in the Disney film.
Have you read Lost Boy? Are you a fan of Peter Pan? Let me know!
*copy courtesy of Amazon.co.uk