Lost Boy by Christina Henry
Publication: July 4th 2017 by Titan Books
Format: Paperback Pages: 304
‘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.’ – Goodreads
To say I am excited to talk about this book would be an understatement. Many of us are sceptical when it comes to reading retellings of our favourite books, especially the books we cherished as children. Peter Pan was one of the first books I read and loved as a child, so it’s always had a special little place in my heart.
The idea of a far off island where you never grow up lends itself to all sorts of dark twists and turns, which is why I was enthusiastic about a dark Peter Pan. Those of us who watch Once Upon A Time have already had a taste of a cunning and evil Peter, and despite already seen dark Peter a couple of times, I thought Christina Henry’s portrayal of him was completely different and exhilarating.
Lost Boy is told from the first perspective of a young boy called Jamie, he was one of the first boys Peter brought to the Island. Jamie’s character is instantly likeable, he’s kind, caring and brave. He can also be a little big headed and too trusting at times, but those aspects of his personality act as reinforcements to remind you that he’s really just a little boy. The book delves into the relationship between Peter and Jamie, how they went from being inseparable best friends to sworn enemies from the eyes of the one we will all later go on to know as Captain Hook.
The story begins in an amusing fashion with a bunch of little boys seeking adventure, play and laughter. It’s clear to see why anyone would want to run off to the Island with all the freedom and wild fun it allows. But it doesn’t take long for things to start getting disturbing and for the Island to become a dangerous and scary place. All of this happens as Jamie himself grows to learn more about Peter, as his character realises that there’s more to Peter than he thought, and that he’s been deceived the entire time. Henry doesn’t throw the twisted and dark elements at you all at once, she slips in a little bit of suspicious behaviour here, a smidge of creepy there and before you know it, Peter is a monster but you totally understand why the boys follow him around and do everything to please him.
Through Jamie, we also get to read about the other boys and it’s easy enough to like them too. It’s hard to read the gory scenes, it’s difficult to get through some passages as children are brutally hurt and a lot of them die. Jamie is the one who cares about the boys, he’s the one who buries them, and he’s always mourning the loss of innocent life while Peter remains carefree. It’s a sinister tale full of bloodshed.
I thought the story was brilliantly creative. Henry introduces Battle, where boys are made to fight one another (sometimes to death); raids where the boys go out of their way to harass the pirates; the Many-Eyed – nightmarish creatures that reminded me of Aragog; and mermaids that are so unpredictable that you don’t know if they’re going to be nice and playful, or if they’re going to trick you and try to drown you. The Island itself has its secrets, some of which are revealed by the end in surprising ways.
As you’d expect from a retelling of Peter Pan, this book is packed full of adventure. Henry’s writing was wonderful; each and every page was gripping and I didn’t want to put the book down. Lost Boy was an amazing read, it’s now one of my favourite retellings and I will definitely be reading it again.