Sunday, February 4, 2018

REVIEW: Peter Darling (book) by Austin Chant

Peter Darling is m/m fantasy published by Less Than Three Press. One of the characters is a trans man. In some ways this feels like a spoiler, because it takes a while for this to come up in the book. However, the publisher makes this aspect clear on both the product page and the back of the book.

Review:

Ten years ago, Peter left Neverland behind in order to go back to his family, who he hoped would finally accept him as he was. Unfortunately, things didn't turn out as well as he'd hoped, and in the book's present he's gone back to Neverland.

Peter seems to think that he can slide back into his old life in Neverland without any trouble, but things have changed since he left. The Lost Boys have a new leader and have become much more peaceful in Peter's absence, and Peter's efforts to "play war" now have more horrible and deadly consequences. The one person in Neverland who seems to genuinely like that Peter is back and shaking things up is his old nemesis, Hook.

I'm not really a Peter Pan fan, but I do like portal fantasies, and the enemies-to-lovers aspect intrigued me. I maybe should have paid more attention to the book's description, though, because the first half of the book had a lot more violence and bloodshed than I was expecting. Although it wasn't hard to guess the root of Peter's need to "play war" even over the Lost Boys' objections, I got frustrated with Peter and found myself wishing that someone (like Tinkerbell) would tell him to quit it before people got killed.

The second half of the book worked better for me. I enjoyed learning more about Neverland, although those revelations never completely took the sting out of the results of the big battle between Peter and the Lost Boys and Hook and his pirates. The progression of Peter and Hook/James from enemies to lovers was still very nice, and I really liked how things worked out in the end.

Since the review that put this on my radar mentioned Every Heart a Doorway, I couldn't help but think of that book too. I very much preferred the way Peter Darling's Neverland was set up as opposed to the fantasy worlds in Every Heart a Doorway, if only because I still dislike how things turned out for Kade in his world.

All in all, this wasn't entirely my cup of tea, but I'm now looking forward to reading Chant's Coffee Boy even more.

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