LOST BOY by Christina Henry – Review

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

LOST BOY by Christina Henry – ReviewLost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry
Published by Berkley on July 4 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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The nitty-gritty: A dark retelling of Peter Pan, steeped in loss and heartbreak, with thrilling action and lots of surprises.

We were still children, for all that we thought we weren’t. We were in that in-between place, the twilight between childish things and grown-up things.

Childhood still held out a friendly hand to us, if we wanted to go back to it, while the unexplored country was ahead, beckoning us to come there and see what new pleasures were to be found.

I’m not usually a fast reader, but I literally DEVOURED this book in a 24-hour period! Most of us are familiar with the original story of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, who loved adventure and was mortal enemies with Captain James Hook. Christina Henry takes the familiar characters and gives everything a twist. In Lost Boy, Peter Pan is the villain and Hook—or Jamie as he’s known in this story—is the innocent, lured to the island with promises that he will stay young forever, promises that turn out to be nothing but prettily disguised lies. There are lots of Peter Pan retellings out there, and a fair amount of those tell the story of Hook, but this is going to be a hard one to beat.

The story is told by Jamie, who was lured away from home by a boy named Peter many, many years ago. Now Jamie lives with Peter and the other boys on an island, and he’s still the same age he was when he arrived, even though “one hundred and fifty seasons” have passed. Peter and his boys spend their days playing and going on adventures, including raiding the pirates in the nearby cove. But it isn’t all fun and games. Peter has an unhealthy love of blood sport, and has created an event called Battle, where boys can settle their disagreements in a “fight to the death” match, a sport that Peter loves to watch, but never participates in himself.

Jamie has taken on the role of protector of a very young boy named Charlie, taken from his mum on one of Peter’s excursions to the Other Place. One of the biggest threats on the island are the giant spider-like monsters called the Many-Eyed, who mostly keep to the forest, but on occasion venture too close to the boys. Peter has many rules, but the most important one is that no one is allowed to hurt or kill a Many-Eyed. Jamie has never understood this rule, until one day he is forced to break it in order to save Charlie.

In an instant, all their lives are changed. And even worse, Jamie realizes that Peter has been keeping secrets from him. And telling lies…

There is so much that I loved about this story! First, this is ALL about the characters and their motivations. Yes, the familiar trappings of Peter Pan are present, but they are mostly off-stage. We all know that Jamie will eventually become Captain Hook, and so pirates do play a part in this story. However, we never actually get to meet the pirates, or even take part in the raids. The reader only hears about these things after the fact, and I was actually OK with that. Likewise, there are mermaids in the story, and even Tinkerbell makes a quick appearance, but these elements are only discussed in an off-hand way. Some readers may wish that the pirates and mermaids were bigger parts of the story, but then it wouldn’t have been THIS story.

Instead, Henry focuses on her characters, especially Peter and Jamie, who are as opposite as can be. Peter is a wonderfully drawn character with psychopathic tendencies, a boy whose sole happiness lies in the amount of mischief and mayhem he can create. He is by turns cruel and charismatic, dangerous and happy-go-lucky, petulant and cunning. He has spent his life on the island literally kidnapping young boys and bringing them back to serve as entertainment. This is at times a bloody and violent tale, and Peter revels in that violence. When a boy dies, he simply shrugs his shoulders and sets out to the Other Place to find a new boy. He terrified me, and I hated him, so kudos to the author for making me feel that way!

On the other side of the coin is Jamie, who feels protective of the other boys and has learned how to read Peter’s various mood swings. In other words, he keeps the peace, which is especially hard as he’s starting to see past the shiny veneer Peter wears and into his true heart. Jamie is a particularly effective fighter, especially when it comes to the pirates. He’s even come up with a signature “move” whenever he beats one of the pirates in a skirmish, a story element that delighted me, since it cleverly ties into story behind Hook’s missing hand (and also relates to the book cover).

I wasn’t surprised to find the theme of childhood and growing up part of Lost Boy, since this is, after all, a Peter Pan story. Henry did a great job of showing us the carefree moments of childhood, the irresistible idea of staying a child forever, and then tempering that idea with the realities of growing up and having to shoulder responsibility. I loved when Jamie realizes that indeed he is growing up (although very slowly). He sometimes feels his bones stretch, and he even wakes up one day with stubble on his chin. Henry even explains to some extent why the boys don’t grow any older, and so when Jamie starts to change it was both heartbreaking and inevitable.

And because this story is character driven, there are lots of emotional moments. In a very short number of pages, Henry manages to make the reader care deeply for the “lost boys.” In fact, I felt bad for every creature that had to deal with Peter, even the monstrous ones! My only negative is that the last part of Lost Boy felt rushed. Henry introduces a new character named Sal late in the story—a character with some very cool surprises—and I honestly wanted more. But by the end, Henry has brought us full circle to the familiar beginning of the original tale, and for me, it felt just right.

For any reader who loves great storytelling, this dark tale is a highly additive treat.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. Above quote was taken from an uncorrected proof, and may differ in the final version of the book.


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Posted July 10, 2017 by Tammy in 4 1/2 stars, Reviews / 22 Comments


22 responses to “LOST BOY by Christina Henry – Review

  1. John Smith

    “Do you love Peter Pan retellings? Which is your favorite?” I really liked that movie about the real J.M. Barrie. And there’s no bettering Mary Martin, of course. …I’ve wondered about this book, but darn it if that cover isn’t just so gory!

    • Tammy

      Ha ha, well the book has its gory moments, so really the cover fits pretty well with the story. I loved that movie about J.M. Barrie too!

    • Tammy

      Oh good, another fan of the book! It seems there are quite a few people who aren’t that crazy about Peter…

    • Tammy

      Thanks Verushka! I don’t run across that many books that make me want to read without stopping, so when I find one it’s a celebration:-)

  2. bill norris

    im a fan of Peter Pan and so far the only retelling i didnt like was the OUAT tv series season that they spent dealing with Peter, i havent watched a season since.

    • Tammy

      I missed that season, but I do remember the trailers and wondering how they were going to deal with it. Not well, I guess?

      • bill norris

        not well at all, it made me mad every time they dragged along the story line…. so horrible. I feel happy for you that you missed it actually.

  3. I devoured this one quickly as well. Great review and I agree with everything you said. I LOVED Jamie and at times, I wanted to reach right into the pages and strangle Peter with my bare hands. I think Henry did a marvelous job with this retelling and it was a dark as I expected. I’ve never read the original because I’ve always hated Peter for some reason but this was the perfect book for that and I’m so glad I read it!
    Barb (boxermommyreads) recently posted…Just As Great As the First – The Supernatural Pet Sitter 2 – The CurseMy Profile

    • Tammy

      I’ve never really hated Peter before, but maybe I need to go back and read the original again, I’m sure there’s lots of subtext:-) I’m glad you loved it too, so much fun!

  4. You had me totally enthralled as you were describing the story, that I actually was frustrated when you – rightly – stopped to avoid giving away the whole plot. But I wanted to know MORE!!!! 😀
    I love the idea of the change of perspective, of seeing the “hero” of the childhood myth transformed into an evil tyrant, and I’m adding this book to my “wanted” list – something tells me I will not wait long before acquiring it for myself…
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂
    Maddalena@spaceandsorcery recently posted…Review: SOUL OF THE WORLD (Ascension Cycle #1), by David MealingMy Profile

    • Tammy

      I think you’d love this, I love Christina Henry’s writing, it works so well for this type of story.

  5. I’m a fan of the original Peter Pan and I loved the film Hook, so I was intrigued to see what this one was about. Thank you so much for your excellent review – it sounds a bit like William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, but in a fantasy setting. Very disturbing! I’ll see if I can track this one down in due course – I’m a bit swamped again…
    sjhigbee recently posted…While the Morning Stars SingMy Profile

    • Tammy

      Glad you enjoyed it too! I wish it was a little longer, but other than that I can’t complain about anything:-)

  6. I won a copy of this and I’m really looking forward to it. Tbh I’m on holiday at the moment and meant to bring my copy as I’d started the first few pages and already had that tingle of anticipation. Pity I forgot it but still there to look forward to when I get back.

  7. Penny Olson

    I actually haven’t read any Peter Pan retellings but this book sounds really cool.