The story of Peter Pan, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, has been told and retold over and over for the past century – can there be a fresh way of reimagining the tale? Well, you might not have thought so, but author Christina Henry has found a way. And it’s by giving J.M. Barrie’s classic a very dark twist…
In a spiritual sequel to Henry’s horror novel Alice, Lost Boy is a prequel to the usual story and is told through the eyes of Peter’s best friend, Jamie. A boy we know must grow up to become Captain James Hook, Peter’s nemesis. It’s a premise that recalls 2015’s Pan, a movie that also aimed to explore the origins of Peter and his past friendship with Hook. That film suffered from a lack of bite, however, which is something that Lost Boy has in spades. In fact, its teeth are as sharp as a certain crocodile’s.
In many ways, Lost Boy owes more to William Golding’s Lord of the Flies than it does Barrie, as Henry examines the darker side to leaving a bunch of boys to fend for themselves on a dangerous island. The biggest danger, though, isn’t the pirates or indigenous creatures but Peter himself. Henry takes the idea of Peter being stuck as a child forever to the extreme. By never growing up, Peter has an underdeveloped sense of morality and right and wrong. Make no mistake, Henry’s rendition of Peter Pan is a complete and utter monster; a twelve-year-old tyrant whose outward charm masks his total lack of regard for human life.
This audacious and gripping treatment of this well-known story is expertly told by Henry’s emotive, evocative prose. The inherent strength of the premise and the writing, then, is enough to forgive the book for some of its few shortcomings. For instance, it would have been interesting to spend more time with one supporting character, in particular, in order for us to invest more in their bond with Jamie.
Lovers of J.M. Barrie’s charming children’s tale might balk at such an iconoclastic retelling, but we urge you to put your shock aside as Lost Boy is a tremendous read. Until reading this book, you wouldn’t have thought that one of the most recognisable and boo-hiss-able villains of all children’s literature could be transformed into an ultra-tragic, sympathetic anti-hero. We guarantee that after reading this, you will hate Peter Pan.
THE LOST BOY / AUTHOR: CHRISTINA HENRY / PUBLISHER: TITAN / RELEASE DATE: 4TH JULY