What an extraordinary story. It isn't really a retelling of Peter Pan or Pirates of the Caribbean, but a strange, beautiful tale in it's own right, with characters that feel familiar and have some of the same names. I loved that everyone had their own agenda. They weren't quite what they seemed. Neverland is a dark, forbidding place, full of monsters and locked in the grip of a deadly curse. The pirates reside in the only safe spot left, and even that is diminishing.
I can't say too much, for fear of spoilers, but Wendy's relationship with Hook is a genuine shock, complicated, fraught with drama. Pan is the transgender young man, fighting with gender dysphoria. The tale weaves and ducks and dives, with Wendy and Tink, Pan's fairy friend, joining forces instead of being enemies.
Wendy gradually unravels the secrets of her past (which doesn't include an upper-class existence in Bloomsbury Square) and faces the fact she is not who she thought she was. She is an incredibly strong, yet vulnerable at times, character, and I loved her. She was the key throughout this book. Her and Hook, with Pan being there but almost a side character. There is fantastic LGBTQ+ representation, not shoe-horned in but woven seamlessly through the story.
Finally, despite the heavy-hitting themes (gender dysphoria, suicide, language, violence) this feels to me like a YA book, for those trying to make sense of their place in the world, who are trying to figure shit out, and are angry. I would have eaten up this story if I was in my teens, desperate to be Wendy, and be strong despite adversity.
Definitely a strange, dark and beautiful read.
Mermaids, stormy skies, daring adventures, pirates…it was little wonder I sprinted to the docks the moment I left the orphanage. Eager to begin my new life, I searched for a ship that would have me—and found a thief instead. I chased the bastard. Now I’m trapped. I’m told this place is Neverland, but everything I touch is dead or dying; what’s left is hellbent on killing each other. Monsters lurk around every corner, and everyone I meet hides a damning secret. I’m thrust in the middle of a deadly feud, and the only one capable of unraveling the curse that plagues us. Neverland is my home now. Until it’s done with me? It will never let go. Peter Pan meets Pirates of the Caribbean in A Land of Never After, but reader beware: this children’s tale has been reimagined for adult lovers of all things dark and deadly, with an LGBTQ+ positive twist. Content warnings include language, violence, and mentions of gender dysphoria and suicide.