Book Review

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Genre | Fantasy
Page #s | 310
Publishing Date | June 2021

The Lost Boys say that Peter Pan went back to England because of Wendy Darling, but Wendy is just an old life he left behind. Neverland is his real home. So when Peter returns to it after ten years in the real world, he’s surprised to find a Neverland that no longer seems to need him.

The only person who truly missed Peter is Captain James Hook, who is delighted to have his old rival back. But when a new war ignites between the Lost Boys and Hook’s pirates, the ensuing bloodshed becomes all too real – and Peter’s rivalry with Hook starts to blur into something far more complicated, sensual, and deadly.


Peter Darling is my first five-star book of 2023, and I think it will remain at the top of my favorites throughout the year because it is so exactly my kind of book. The original story of Peter Pan (both J.M. Barrie’s novel and the 2003 film) are dear to my heart for the way they handle escapism, emotional transitions, and loss. All of those themes are present in this reimagining/sequel, with the additional layer of a queer perspective.

Set ten years after Peter Pan leaves Neverland, he returns as a 20-year-old desperate to reclaim his sense of self as the prince of an island, leader of the Lost Boys and equal adversary to Captain Hook. We slowly learn why he has come back, and you know what? I want to talk about this story clearly, so SPOILERS for a reveal that happens around page 50.

We learn that Wendy is a trans boy who fled to Neverland to be who he always knew himself to be. Missing his parents, he returns to the Darling family, only to be forced back into his assigned sex at birth. When he returns to Neverland as a young man, he forgets where he came from and revels in the body and role he has always wanted. He also crashes back into a rivalry with Captain Hook that is Very Sexy and had me whiplashed with how quickly I shipped it. Hook is a gay man, because Neverland is the place where those rejected by society can be themselves, totally and freely. It’s so obvious I’m mad this is the first time I’ve thought of Neverland as a queer utopia.

Peter’s fervor for battle and war, in this context, is portrayed as toxic masculinity that is a cheap and dangerous way for him to feel like a man. We also dive DEEP into the escapism metaphor, as Peter and Hook must decide whether to be the best versions of themselves they can be in Neverland, or return home and risk society’s judgment while being fully and completely themselves.

Peter Darling captures all of the magic, drama, adventure, and emotionality found in Peter Pan. My soul ached while reading this, and just an hour after closing the book I was contemplating just diving back in for a reread. I cannot recommend this more!

Who Do I Recommend This Book To?

EVERYONE. If you love Peter Pan and if you are queer, you MUST read Peter Darling.

Check out our Queer Lil Library for more book recommendations and reviews!

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