Book Review: Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Growing up as a girl named Wendy, Peter never felt like himself, so he ran away to Neverland where he could be a boy but returned home when he missed his family, even though they never accepted who he was. Ten years later, he's back in Neverland, ready to lead his Lost Boys and fight some pirates, only to discover that things have changed, Neverland isn't quite what he thought, and he just may be falling for Hook.

Book Review: Peter Darling by Austin Chant | reading, books, book reviews, fantasy, lgbt, retelling, peter pan, transgender, m/m
Title: Peter Darling
My Rating: 4 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*

Oh I just loved this book! It seemed to be based on the original, which I appreciated, but it was touching rather than dark. And I liked so many things that I’m just going to make a semi-list so that I can talk about all of them!

First of all, a transgender main character! That’s hard to find in fantasy.

Second, a romance between Peter and Hook! Hook (from the original) is one of my favorite characters, so I was super excited to see him portrayed in a good way and made into the love interest. And I also have been wanting more LGBT retellings.

Third, I loved these versions of both Peter and Hook. This version of Peter still retained some of the darker aspects of the original, like his cruelty and love for killing/fighting and inability to understand the difference between real and make-believe while on the island, but he wasn’t like that while in the real world, and he also matured and had a lot of growth over the course of the story. And this version of Hook was so sassy and a little flamboyant but also sweet and is now also one of my favorite characters.

Everything about Hook seemed a little frivolous, yet perhaps that was the point of it. He was such a dastardly villain that he could stand to do everything in twice as many ruffles as the next man.

Fourth, I love the intimate feel in stories when two characters are forced to spend time together alone, just the two of them, and there was a whole section of this book when Peter and Hook were trapped together, so I loved that whole section.

Fifth, the scene when they first moved into romance was amazing! (They got a little hot and heavy, but there was no sex and nothing too explicit.) I could really feel all that tension and attraction and pleasure and whatnot between them.

Sixth, I really liked the emotional struggles that came up. For Peter it was his gender dysphoria and finally feeling like himself but also kind of feeling like he was just borrowing a body that wasn’t his while in Neverland. For Hook is was *SPOILER ALERT* remembering his real life, who he really was, and the reason he came to Neverland and realizing that he just ran away from his problems and grief instead of dealing with them. He didn’t even know how long he’d been there in Neverland, but he knew he didn’t want to forget his life again. *END SPOILER ALERT*

Seventh, there was even disability since Hook was an amputee! Ok, it wasn’t exactly a big part of the story, but still, I always like to mention disability representation.

“You should have bandaged it,” Peter said. “Why didn’t you?”

“For one thing, I don’t have a bandage. For another, why didn’t I secure a bandage around my shoulder by matchlight with one hand and a hook?” Hook arched his eyebrows. “I wonder.”

Last but not least, I thought the book had such an interesting take on Neverland. *SPOILER ALERT* The island was real, in a sense, but it was also a fantasy/dream for anyone who ran away to it, something they had partial control over. So the Lost Boys and the pirates weren’t real, they were just figments of Peter and Hook’s imaginations, things they both made up when they ran away because of what they craved (Peter wanted to fit in and be accepted and play as a boy, Hook wanted his lover back, they both wanted adventure and had fun fighting each other). *END SPOILER ALERT*

My only complaint is that the book was so short, more like a novella than a full novel, and because of that the romance was a bit rushed. But the book still felt complete and satisfying, and I don’t think either man ever used the word love, plus they both understood each other in a way no one else ever would because of their shared Neverland experience, so I was able to accept it and I can’t complain too much. But still, I would’ve loved to read more about these characters.

So overall, even though it was a quick read, I loved the characters and the romance and the whole story and thought this book was super sweet and a great Peter Pan inspired story!


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  1. Greg

    More Peter Pan? πŸ˜› Seriously though love that cover. Anything with dark clouds and stormy weather gets me. And Peter loves Hook? Woot now THAT’s a surprise. You’re right I don’t think I’ve read a transgender in fantasy. Love the quote about ruffles- I like the idea of Hook as a somewhat dashing kinda villain. πŸ™‚

    The Neverland take is interesting too, with them experiencing it that way. I like the idea of it ten years later and things have changed.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol I have another Peter Pan retelling review going up next week too. Figured I’d put them all near each other πŸ˜› Yes, Peter and Hook! I loved it! And, well, Hook was already a dashing, charming villain in the original, that’s part of what makes him so interesting, he was just a little sassier in this one πŸ˜‰ And seriously, this was the first book I’d read with a trans MC, not just a side character, because it’s so hard to find in SFF.

      Definitely an interesting take on Neverland!

  2. Drangonfly

    first let me say that cover is beautiful! love it. Yup I think I haven’t seen many transgender characters in fantasy. It’s great that the love scene was good. I don’t see that often in fantasy either πŸ˜› One day I should probably read a Peter Pan book. I may like it. πŸ™‚ Great review

    1. Kristen Burns

      It is pretty! And seriously, I’ve never found a trans MC until now, at least not for the type of fantasy I like to read. But maybe you’re reading the wrong type of fantasy because I’ve found some other good sexy scenes lol. And you should totally try reading Peter Pan and/or some retellings. This wasn’t dark, but the original kind of is! Thanks!

  3. Julie @ Happily Ever Chapter

    I remember seeing this one on NetGalley and debating about it for a while. Now I’m kicking myself for not getting it because I keep thinking about it. haha! I’ll probably eventually have to buy it now. lol Great review! Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Lola

    This sounds pretty interesting! And definitely unique to see a LBGT retelling. And I like the sound of the Peter Pan and Hook romance, nice twist on the original story. I like retelling that differ a bit form the original tale and it sounds like this one does that well, while still containing elements of the original story.

    Forced proximity scenes like that can be great in a romance! And those scenes where a romance really moves into a romance are always fun to read. Too bad it was a bit short, but besides that it sounds like you really enjoyed this one!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I really would love more LGBT retellings. But yeah, this one was so great! Even though it was more like a sequel than a true retelling.

      That’s a good term for it, forced proximity. Is that what the trope is actually called? I always have to try to explain it any time I want to talk about it in a review lol. I do like it though! I did enjoy the book πŸ™‚

      1. Lola

        I am not sure if the term is official, but I always use the term forced proximity and have heard others use it as well. But I know for some tropes people use different names, like some call it enemies to lovers and some call it hate to love for example. But I can’t remember hearing another term so far for forced proximity and I like how you can use one word to describe the whole situation.

  5. Di @ Book Reviews by Di

    Wow – how interesting is that synopsis!? It really, really sounds like the author has made in incredible story out of this one both in keeping with the original AND twisting it.

    I love your review and I think this is going to be a great read! Thanks Kristen!

  6. Danya @ Fine Print

    This sounds absolutely darling! Hahahahaha…oh ho. I’ll see myself out. But seriously though, a trans protagonist, a cute queer romance in a retelling — that’s awesome! I’m pretty picky about novellas and short fiction in general, but it sounds like Chant totally pulled it off here.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lmao you’re so punny πŸ˜‰ I agree, everything about the premise is awesome, and I also usually don’t read novellas because they’re usually too short for me to truly enjoy, but this one ended up being great!

  7. Michelle @Because Reading

    I was going to grab this one netgalley but I just wasn’t sure. I am LOVING your review and think maybe I should have requested it. I think it’s still there but since it’s out I might grab it when I get some money.
    I haven’t read any transgender books, how awesome that the MC is transgender I really need to get this book πŸ™‚

    Awesome Review Kristen!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I pretty much snatched this one up from NG as soon as I saw it, haha. I definitely recommend it though! Thanks, can’t wait to see what you think if/when you read it πŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      It was good! It had some of the feel of the original in how Peter and Hook were portrayed, but it was really different since the original was dark and this was sweet and adorable.

  8. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    This sounds pretty damn awesome. I’m so glad you liked it as I know you’re a fan of Peter Pan. Glad to see this retelling as an interesting interpretation of Peter which doesn’t change him but instead leaves room for him to grow. Also a M.M romance between Peter and Hooke? I can totally get behind that and I definitely want to read, even if it is too short.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It is awesome! And yeah, I liked that he still had some of that cruelty but that it clearly had something to do with the island and he grew as the book went on. And yes, I totally loved the Peter-Hook romance!

  9. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    Sounds like a great take on Peter Pan. Since I like Hook more, I may eventually check this one out. I’ve always wanted to read The Child Thief by Brom but don’t know if I can make it through since I don’t care for the MC that much.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It was! I loved it and definitely liked Hook’s character. I also tend to be more interested in retellings that focus on Hook since I’m generally not a Peter fan. Not that I’ve read many retellings, but I do have some on my TBR lol.

    1. Kristen Burns

      If you like retellings, I definitely recommend it! It’s more like a sequel, but close enough. Don’t worry about the rushed romance, it’s still worth it.

  10. Bookworm Brandee

    It’s always a good sign when you want more of the book. And I love how you just listed everything you loved about this one. It has a lot going for it keeping parts of the original in tact but adding in so many new elements that really seem to have worked with the story. I rather love that Peter is transgender! I’m happy this was such a hit with you, Kristen. It’s definitely going on “your” shelf. πŸ˜‰

  11. Erin @ Paperbackstash

    Aha, looks like I didn’t read the other review wrong – this is the one I was considering reading. It has good review by you and also Goodreads. Wasn’t sure if it would be for me but wouldn’t hurt to try, especially since so short. Hm.