REVIEW: Peter Darling by Austin Chant
Peter Darling – Austin Chant
Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.
But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.
Peter Darling is a brilliant retelling of the classic story of Peter Pan.
Peter, who knew he was a boy and not ‘Wendy’ his family insists he should be, returns to Neverland after ten years only to find the Lost Boys and the pirates are no longer at war.The first person he announces his presence to is, of course, his favorite rival, Captain Hook.
“To die,” Peter began, “would be an awfully big—”
“Don’t start that again,” Hook said. “Surely you could have come up with something new to say after ten years.”
Peter promptly re-ignites the war and there were the inevitable casualties. In one of their battles, Peter and Hook were trapped together in the tunnels. They had no choice but to work together. Peter in a vulnerable moment, grieved the loss of an important friend. This is where Hook surprised him.
“I find that enemies are the most satisfying people to share secrets with,” Hook said. “If you must tell someone, tell someone who’s sensitive to all our vulnerabilities, on account of trying to exploit them.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
Peter soon discovered that he and Hook had many things in common. They were both dreamers who had gone to Neverland to make their dreams come true. Peter dazzles with his youthful energy, his arrogance and confidence that he could be anything he wants to be in Neverland. Hook was a revelation! He is dastardly, ruthless and greedy but also a cultured dandy, sardonic, charming, a man of his word and a skilled artist. It is hard to erase the image of the Disney Captain Hook in my mind but Austin Chant did a good job recreating this supposed villain, this caricature of a pirate into an engaging character capable of sympathy and love.
I felt narrator Mark B. Knight’s quiet, almost monotonous, almost clip voice didn’t quite deliver the right kind of emotion. Also, it was helluva lot confusing that the faeries have masculine sounding voices despite the female pronouns though this is probably consistent with the transman theme. At first, the narration threw me off and though I know the story was really good, I couldn’t fully get into it until Hook made his big move. Turns out, Knight’s style was perfect in delivering the right amount of tension to capture that momentous, explosive moment when these two mortal enemies stopped being at each others throats and were suddenly at each others lips! After that I was hooked! Sorry, I had to say that.
Peter Pan and Captain Hook! Who knew it would work out! There’s hope for all you bitter rivals out there!
I’m looking at you, Dexter and Mandark.
Hook gave a low chuckle. “Your obsession is flattering, Pan. And I share it.”
“Is that not what they call it,” Hook said, “when two men can think of nothing but each other?”
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away