Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook
by Christina Henry
Published by Berkley Books on July 4th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Historical, Horror
I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review.
There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.
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. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.
Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever.
I have to beg your forgiveness, lovelies. This is the first review I have actually written up in a while, and I am a little bit rusty. However, I couldn’t have picked a better book to be my first after a bit of a hiatus from reviewing due to health issues. Lost Boy by Christina Henry is a real gem!
So, a bit of a disclaimer. I have never actually read the J.M. Barrie original. I know, I know! Bad bookworm. But I find that I get a little overwhelmed when I read classics and originals. So, for now I have skipped it. But, I really love fairy tales, and I have a lot of fond memories of spending time at my grandparents’ house, reading many different treasuries of classic fairy tales. Back when Christina Henry wrote Alice and Red Queen, I jumped on the opportunity to read a dark re-imagining of the stories I loved as a kid. And when I saw she was writing Lost Boy, I had to read it, too! Not to mention, look how amazing that cover is. And the UK version is even more so.
Because all I know of Peter Pan is the Disney story, and a little bit of the stage musical, I had no serious attachments to the story or the characters as they were. If you do, and you don’t want those attachments ruined, I recommend steering clear of Lost Boy. You won’t feel the same about Peter and his boys after you read it!
We see some real growth and change in a few of the characters. While the main characters (namely Jamie and Peter) are very well fleshed out, the other characters were a little one-dimensional for me. I love sweeping casts, and especially with how things went in Part III onward, I would have loved to know a little bit more about the supporting cast of boys.
Plot and Pacing:
Lost Boy started out a little slow for me, but by Part II (of IV), it was really picking up, and I didn’t want to put it down. The core plot of Lost Boy is really magnificent, as it tells a story that isn’t often explored – the origin of the villain. And if the villain has just cause for becoming a villain, is he truly a villain?
Lost Boy was billed as a horror story on NetGalley, but I feel like it sits more comfortably in the dark fantasy genre. Where Henry’s previous two retellings had a very prevalent core of fear and suspense, I feel like Lost Boy was lacking in that department. However, it did keep the graphic violence that Henry writes so very well.
Setting and Worldbuilding:
The interesting thing about derivative works is that some of the work is done for you, while you get to reinterpret other aspects completely. While Henry’s Neverland (or as she calls it, Peter’s island) is not as lush and full as the world she created in Alice and Red Queen, it was still a lovely setting for the story. The one thing I was really missing was any mention of Tiger Lily and her “Picaninny” tribe. It would have infused some much-needed diversity into the story, as all of the boys Peter brings to his island (as well as the pirates) were described as being white.
I would also love to have seen a little more description of the Other Place, maybe via what the boys were wearing when they were brought to the island. We know Jamie has been there a long time, but if the new boys were wearing jeans and neon windbreakers as opposed to Jamie’s more 1800’s inspired wear, it would give a better sense of time passing. I understand why she didn’t do so, as it might have damaged the fantasy aspects of the book… but it would still have been interesting.
Christina Henry is a glorious wordsmith, and Lost Boy is no exception. My few beefs with it are that it lacks a diverse narrative, the supporting characters could have used some extra love, and the worldbuilding was not as striking as in her previous work. That said, this re-telling of Peter Pan is sure to stand the test of time as a dark fantasy favorite.
Lost Boy contains some graphic violence and gore, specifically against children. As such, it may be triggering to some readers.
Furthermore, this is not a Young Adult book, though the main cast is of a younger age.
Who Should Read This Book:
Readers who are a fan of bloody battles, fairy tale re-imaginings, and dark fantasy are likely to love Lost Boy by Christina Henry.